The Cost of Forgetfulness: Rebates and Trial Offers

Your forgetfulness is incredibly lucrative for businesses. With so much for us to remember in our daily lives, it is often easy to forget the little things. There are all kinds of examples of this: canceling a service that you are no longer using, sending in that rebate form for a purchase you made, leaving your travel mug at home that gives you a discount at the local cafe, and more. Today, I want to talk about rebates and trial offers.

Each month and often every week, I sit down and review my transactions from all of my bank accounts and credit cards. There is always something that pops up that I forgot about. Last time I sat down for a review, I realized I forgot to send in the cancellation form for my co-working space and nearly forgot to send in a rebate form for a tablet. We are all human and forget things, and this is what businesses often depend on. It is profitable for them and expensive for us.

Rebates – Love ‘em AND hate ‘em.

We get excited about rebates. It seems like we are getting a great price for something that we want or need. When we make the purchase, in our head we automatically calculate that we have saved money and gotten a good deal with the rebate offer even though we paid the full price and have yet to actually receive the rebate. Because we have already mentally factored in the savings, it is easy to forget to follow through and submit the rebate forms to actually receive the rebate. When we forget to follow through, we either say “oh well” or fail to recognize that we forgot and paid the price. This is all part of the plan and what the business offering the rebate depends on.

Reality Check: Rebates are awesome as long as you fill out all of the appropriate forms within the appropriate amount of time.

Trial offers – Great until they renew.

Trial offers are a double-edged sword. They are awesome because you get to use a great service or try a new service at a discounted price before it renews at a full price. What frequently happens is we forget the trial period has ended and that we are automatically being renewed at the full price. Typically by the time we realize the trial has ended, we have already paid for the next month, quarter or year of service. Once that happens, we mentally think that we might as well use it through the term we just paid for and then will cancel. This goes round and round until we finally recognize what’s happening and cancel the service.

Reality Check: Trials are awesome as long as you get value out of them. You get to try a new service at a discounted rate. It is okay for it to renew at the higher price at the end of the trial if  it is something that you actually want and see value in.

Jedi mind trick

There are so many tactics that businesses employ to get and retain customers, as well as to make as much money as they possibly can from each purchase. These tactics that come in the form of rebates and trial offers are both good and not-so-good. Make them work in your favor by preparing from the start of the purchase by:

  • Putting a calendar appointment on your personal calendar with a few reminders for when the rebate information needs to be submitted or the trial renews at full price. When the appointment pops up, follow through on it!
  • Making sure you have access to and understand all that you need to complete and submit your rebate when you are making your purchase. Add all of that information to the calendar event you created so that it is all in one place. Store any receipts or needed forms in a safe (and visible) place.

Becoming an MFF Fellow  

Our Standards of Financial Literacy program is engaging, full of interesting information, and easy to navigate. Adapted from the National Standards for Financial Literacy developed by the Council for Economic Education (CEE), this robust curriculum features six short lessons on such important topics as earning income, understanding the value of saving and using credit. When completed, this program lays the foundation for becoming an MFF Fellow.

Becoming an MFF Fellow is the ticket to access additional MFF programs and opportunities for mentoring, networking, internships and real-world opportunities. These are the opportunities which allow MFF Fellows to continue their journey towards personal financial independence.

Learn more at

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest