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OfficeMax bids farewell to mail-in rebates

Customer gripes lead office supply chain to dump the lengthy rebate process in favor of in-store discounts.

Citing overwhelming customer dissatisfaction with its mail-in rebate system, OfficeMax said it will eliminate the program beginning this weekend.

After a year of working with suppliers to implement the change, the office products retailer decided to do away with mail-in rebates in favor of in-store discounts.

The decision was the culmination of almost uniformly negative feedback regarding the lengthy and often-frustrating process of mailing in a rebate form and proof of purchase, followed by weeks of waiting for a check, a company spokesman said on Friday.

"Rebates were the No. 1 customer complaint we were getting," said Ryan Vero, OfficeMax's chief merchandising officer.

Customers would often call the company or question store staff as to the whereabouts of their reimbursement checks, Vero said. Because OfficeMax has no control over rebates--they come from the product manufacturers--the company decided it "needed an easier way to do this."

Vero said the decision will benefit customers because the new discounts will make shopping simpler and will apply immediately.

"In our stores, they'll be able to save that money right at the register; they don't have to pay taxes on that or wait four to six weeks," he said.

In 2005, Best Buy announced it would end its rebate program in two years.