I decided to buy my oldest son a computer for Christmas. In the Staples store in Bridgehampton—this is one of my favorite stores—I found a Toshiba laptop on sale for just $259. It retailed at $350. Toshiba is a good name. I know from experience that Staples offers excellent service and support. And this was quite a bargain, so I asked a clerk to get me one of them. He did so, and I carried it to the checkout counter and took out my credit card.
They rang it up for $328. This was a lot of sales tax.
“Hey,” I said. “Its on sale for $259,”
“It’s a rebate,” the cashier said.
“The price card said $259.”
“You get a rebate for $50.”
“Oh. Then you give me $50?”
“No. You send in a form.”
“Oh,” said I. And I signed it.
After that, I asked if when I sent in the form if they would send me the $50, and he said no, they would send me a Visa credit card that had a $50 credit on it.
I’m familiar, in a bad way, with such credit cards. I once got one from a department store, and when I went to use it found that only three-quarters of the money was available. The rest was computer card fees. Another time, I found when I went to use one that the company that had the deal with the store and Visa had gone out of business—as in, took all the money and left. Still another time, I found that the credit card was available to be used at only certain stores, and to get a list of them, I had to guess. And still another time, my Visa card had up and died. It had exceeded the time limit available for me to have used it.
The rest of this article is about this $50, how I’m going about getting it, and how many people are involved in giving it to me, which is many, and which I guess is good for the economy since unemployment is a problem.
The cashier gave me this long strip of a receipt that had on it my purchase, my eligibility number, my form to fill out and the name and address of where to send it, which I believe was in Ohio. I took it and the computer home. I wrapped up the computer as a Christmas present.
The form got filled out with my name, address, email and telephone number (for future use by someone selling something by phone that I didn’t want?), I got an envelope and a stamp, made a copy of the form in case it got lost, put the original into the envelope and addressed it, carried it down the driveway, put it in my mailbox with the flag sticking up for the postman and, I suppose, off it went.
Three weeks later, I received an email from the “Staples Easy Rebate” action team. The subject read WE GOT IT. AND SOON YOU’LL GET IT BACK.
“Thank you for submitting your rebate request through Staples Easy Rebates! We have received rebate information for this product: TOSHIBA C55D-A5382. We’ll begin processing your request shortly. To track the status of your rebate, click below.”
I decided not, at this time, to click on the link. This was Staples—I had complete faith in their ability to put my submission through its various hoops and tests and approvals and get it off into a truck and on its way to me. Watching the various cities and warehouses my rebate was spending the night at as it headed my way was of limited interest. But there was more for me to take note of. There was a Rebate Offer Number of eight digits, there was an Easy Rebate ID number of 17 digits, and there was a tracking number of nine digits. There were Americans (or foreigners working at just a few dollars a day) at work now, laboring mightily over my $50.
“If you have questions about the easy rebates or this email, please read our frequently asked questions at:” and then there was this second link I could click on. Then there was a third link that was “if I need more help.” I publish the link here, because it has the phrase SplashAction in it: stapleseasyrebates.com/staples/SplashAction.do?action=help.
The email was signed “Your Easy Rebates team.”
That email was sent to me on Monday, December 23 at 9:28 a.m., which was two days before my son opened his present and thanked me profusely for the wonderful Toshiba computer.
At this point, it is January 12 and as far as my $50 is concerned, I’m eagerly looking forward to whatever is going to happen next.
Bear with me one moment. There’s somebody ringing our doorbell.