Ask vendors to honor your rebate up front

Dennis o'reilly By Dennis O’Reilly

Here’s a secret that vendors don’t want you to know about: rebate terms are sometimes negotiable.

You may be able to avoid the hassle of submitting rebate documentation via mail by asking for the rebate amount to be deducted from the price at the time of purchase.

Redeeming rebates for hardware and software is a pitfall-filled process, as contributing editor Scott Dunn’s Jan. 7 Top Story pointed out. But reader Walter Donavan says he’s found another way to play the rebate game:

  • “Scott omitted one possible method of dealing with rebates that is 100% certain — if you can negotiate it. Simply tell the vendor by phone or e-mail that you want the product and will buy it, but only with the rebate already included in the price. For example, ‘$50 after mail-in rebate of $100’ becomes ‘$50 price now.’ Never mind the risky $150 price before rebate.

    “I will no longer buy a product that depends on a mail-in rebate. If the vendor won’t give me the post-rebate price up front, I hang up. It’s very satisfying.”

Whether a particular hardware or software vendor can or will convert a mail-in rebate to an instant discount is an open question, but it can’t hurt to ask.

Hotfix for a bad XP SP3 Firewire driver

The clock is ticking for Windows XP SP2, as contributing editor Susan Bradley explained in her Dec. 17, 2009, Patch Watch column (paid content). As of next July, Microsoft will provide security updates only for XP SP3. Carl Spencer highlights one precaution some XP users need to take before applying Service Pack 3:
  • “I see from your current version of Windows Secrets that it will soon be time to upgrade from XP SP2. However, please advise your readers to back up their firewire drivers. … Many PC owners — myself included — have lost the ability to download DV camcorder files due to the camcorder not being recognized by the PC [after] having upgraded to XP SP3.”
It’s true: Following installation of XP SP3, some systems freeze before the sign-in screen appears if the PC has certain firewire devices connected. But on Jan. 13, 2009, Microsoft released a hotfix for the problem via Knowledge Base article 955356.

The company warns that the update is intended only for systems experiencing that specific symptom. There’s discussion of the problem on Microsoft’s Windows Client TechCenter forum.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2010-01-14: