Several months ago I went to our family physician for a routine checkup where blood was routinely drawn. Before I even left, however, my doctor informed me that I had developed type 2 diabetes, which didn’t completely shock me since diabetes runs in my family and I suspected that one day I would receive such a diagnosis. What did surprise me, however, was the hassle involved with ordering diabetic supplies like testing strips, a testing meter, and lancets.

My first obstacle was seen immediately when I contacted my medical insurance company and was directed to call another number to receive a free diabetes testing meter. I thought this was great — no cost to me, right? Well, I answered all their questions, thinking that would be it and I would soon receive my meter, but three weeks later I had still not received the meter. I again called the company that was supposed to send me the meter and was told they were still awaiting authorization from my insurance company. So, at this point, knowing that I needed to be checking my blood glucose levels, I decided to order my own meter ($15.00), from Amazon and was pleased to receive it within two days. When it arrived I immediately noticed that there was a rebate notice attached to the outside of the box. Once sent in, the rebate notice promised to reimburse 100% of the entire purchase price.

Rebates: Are They Worth the Effort?As with most rebates, it came with a full set of instructions that I have learned from past experience must be followed exactly since rebate companies are sticklers for precision. For those of you who are unfamiliar with rebate procedures, you will quickly learn that if you don’t follow the instructions to the letter, you will receive a dreaded notice that you have failed to comply with a minor requirement such as including a damaged UPC code or other nonsense. In fact, for this particular rebate, I reread and rechecked my rebate form three times to make sure I didn’t miss something.

Fortunately for me, my attentiveness to all of the required particulars resulted in my receiving an email confirmation from the rebate clearing house approximately two weeks later informing me that my rebate had been received and was being processed. At that time the company also informed me that I should be receiving payment, in the form of a $15 debit card, within the next couple of weeks.

So while this rebate appears to have gone relatively smoothly, it brings up another problem I once had.

In this particular case I had received a debit card rebate in the amount of $50, and tried to use the card at a restaurant. The card specifically indicates on the front that it is a debit card, however, we soon learned that if it is run as a debit card on a credit card system, it will be rejected. After my initial embarrassment, I called the issuing company and was informed that when making a restaurant purchase I needed to advise the waiter/waitress to run the card as credit. I followed the instructions and was relieved to find that this was the correct procedure to use with that particular card. Just a heads up in case you run into a similar problem.

For me, rebates have paid off fairly well, however, I do not base my purchases on whether there is a rebate available since I prefer instant rebates at the counter over mail-in rebates. How about you? What problems have you had with rebates?

Comments welcome.