Canon rebates are distributed as American Express prepaid reward cards. Why?
Rebates are a pain in the ass, no matter how you look at it. Why not just give your customers a discount at time of purchase? Is hassling a paying customer a viable business strategy?
But, I fell victim to temptation and bought a Canon printer with a generous rebate. Imagine my disappointment — after waiting for weeks to receive the rebate (so that I could pay it back to the credit card I used to make the purchase) — to open an envelope and discover a prepaid AMEX card. In fact, I almost trashed the envelope because it looked like one of the unsolicited credit card offers I receive in the mail all the time.
Canon’s entire rebate experience is a major hassle
1. The submission process
To get Canon’s rebate, you must mail in a form + your original receipt + the actual UPC code physically cut from the cardboard box. Yes, you have to cut a hole all the way through the box. This goes into an envelope to be sent by snail mail.
2. Why send the rebate as an AMEX card?
If you just want to go to a local merchant to make a purchase with your Canon rewards American Express prepaid card, you will probably have no issues, assuming the merchant accepts American Express. The card comes in the mail activated and ready to use at local point of sales merchants. If you want to use the card to make an online purchase, the included paperwork tells you that you must first call to register the card. I called to do this, thinking that I may be able to use the card to make an online payment to my own credit card — which I couldn’t. The call is not difficult, but it took 7 minutes.
My problem is that I wanted to use MY rebate funds to pay back my credit card, which I used to buy the printer. My credit union does not accept American Express. They said that if it were a VISA card, there would be no problem accepting it. They recommended I go to the grocery store and buy a money order. No luck, the grocery store does accept AMEX, but the card was declined when attempting to get cash, and when attempting to convert it to a money order. The paperwork specifically states that the card cannot be used at an ATM.
OK, now my hassle-factor is starting to mount up.
3. The Solution
Researching online, I discovered that American Express will send a check if you call to request one — assuming you have not used any part of the balance on the card already. I called the AMEX customer service number, and even though I had already given them my home address when I called previously to register the card, I had to give it all again. There were two hold periods. Overall the call lasted exactly 15 minutes. However, the friendly customer service representative was able to get the check authorized and told me to expect it in 20 business days.
All in all, one great big hassle. Even though the printer is great and has exceeded my expectations, I am seriously perturbed with Canon’s decision to force its paying customers to undergo such a major hassle, when they could easily streamline this process in many ways, the best of which is simply to give a credit at time of purchase and bypass the rebate process altogether. The entire process is very last century.
I can only cynically assume that Canon hopes that most people will choose not to undergo this hassle, and thereby not claim their rebates.
I contacted Canon USA via Twitter with my gripe. To date, I have received no response, but if they reply, I will revise this posting.