Cash back

I recently bought a new laser printer from Officeworks. It’s from Brother, and I picked it up for $99. Actually, it was $139 with a $40 “cash back” (and I’m still waiting for the cash back, to be completely honest).

Cash backs are a weaselly way of providing a discount. We all know that they are offered with the understanding that not all customers will be bothered to, or will remember about, getting their cash back. If they were genuine about the discount, they’d simply reduce the retail price.

In order to claim this one, I had to:

  1. Keep the receipt from Officeworks
  2. Make a photocopy of it
  3. Do a web search for “brother cash back” (no details were provided in store, on the receipt, or with the product on how to claim the cash back)
  4. Visit the right website
  5. Locate the serial number for the product (detailed instructions are provided on the website)
  6. Complete a claim form online, including specifying receipt number, serial number, and bank account details
  7. Get back a unique code, that had to be written on the back of the photocopied receipt, along with my name and address
  8. Post the photocopied receipt to the address specified (also requires a stamp)
  9. Wait

Not exactly trivial. At several points I wondered if it was worth bothering, but I obviously persevered. A straight-out discount would have been preferable.

Although, now I’m reconsidering. The practice of cash backs is a bit like a tax on the slack. The motivated get the discount, while the slack do not. If everyone was motivated enough to jump through the hoops the manufacturer has created, the amount they could provide in the cash back would be less. So, in a real sense, the difficulty of the cash back process results in a higher cash back amount for those willing to endure it.

I may end up quite happy once the payment has been received. However, The Age published an article today alerting readers to problems with HP’s cash back schemes. So, I wait, and hope that Brother’s process is less difficult than HP’s.