Finding rebate offers online

August 2000

As my buddy Ken would say, "It's nuts." Here's the scenario: both the black and color ink cartridges on my old StyleWriter color printer were empty, and it was going to cost $60 or more to replace them. Then I come across a deal online for a new Epson Stylus 740 color printer for $50. As they say, it was a "no-brainer."

Yes, I do like the Internet, where you can find deals that help you buy a new printer for less than the cost of replacing the cartridges on your old one. In this case, the deal was courtesy of DealMac. The printer was listed for $120, but DealMac told about a $20-off coupon at Buy.Com and about a $50 manufacturer rebate--making the final cost $50.

Each day DealMac lists the best deals to be found nationwide--mostly contributed by readers. And some of these offers aren't obvious. For example, when I went to Buy.Com to order the computer, I couldn't find the $20 off coupon and had to go back to DealMac to follow the link. Similarly, when the printer came, there was no rebate offer inside. I was scared, thinking I'd have to pay the regular price. But then I went back to DealMac, followed the link, and sure enough, the Epson web site had a rebate offer that I printed out and mailed in.

DealMac offers information about the best deals on Macintosh systems, storage, peripherals, upgrades, and software. A related site called DealNews has information about general computer peripherals as well as other products. Almost every day both sites offer "Buying Tips" that alert you to online coupons, such as $20 off at Barnes & Noble.

SalesCircular.Com takes a different approach. They simply alert you to the special sales and rebate offers available in your area instead of being a middleman. If you're going out shopping, you can use their directory to tell you what products currently have rebates in categories such as computers, electronics, appliances, and cameras. They also have a link just for products that are currently being offered for free after a rebate. When I visited, Microsoft's Encarta Encyclopedia in CD-ROM was free, along with a range of lotions and shampoos.

There are probably hundreds of sites devoted to directing you to special offers, and you can find a good selection of them at the excellent Freebies site at About.Com. Click on the link that says Coupon Sites.

© 2000 by Jim Karpen, Ph.D.

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