Friday was a day I’d been awaiting for weeks. It was the start of the appliance rebate program in Florida. The program is part of the stimulus package. There’s a 20% rebate on the price of an Energy Star appliance and $75 if they haul the old one away. (Each state has its own policies.)
First was “Cash for Clunkers.” We missed out on that because Susie’s Mazda needed just 1 MPG less to qualify. That was the bad news. The good news: we would have bought a Toyota, which is now part of the recalls.
So when I learned months ago about the appliance rebate program, from a friend in the Governor’s Energy Office, I was excited. Susie’s Mazda is running fine but our dishwasher gave up many months ago.
It was the original dishwasher (70’s gold color), which means it served well for 30 years. Mainly because we hardly used it since buying the house 20 years ago. With only two of us, Susie hand washes the dishes. All two of them. But when there’s company and I serve appetizers, salad, entrée, and dessert then a dishwasher sure is nice.
I began researching dishwashers a month in advance. After checking reviews, I found that Maytags are well rated. (We have a Maytag refrigerator.) And, Maytag was running its own rebate on selected dishwashers. I decided on a model with a $50 rebate.
After checking prices online, it seemed Lowe’s had better prices. But I decided to see what Home Depot was offering. Ka-ching! They were offering an extra 10% off. (Later, I learned Sears offered 30% off but no free delivery / haul away.)
The model I had selected listed at $500 at Home Depot (HD) and the 10% discount brought it down to $450. The stimulus rebate will give me 20% off the $450, bringing the price down to $360. Then, there’s another $75 rebate from the program for hauling the old dishwasher off, (free delivery and haul off from HD) so now the price drops to $285.
Lastly, there’s the $50 rebate from Maytag, for another price reduction to $235. Oh, and in April Discover (which I have) is offering 5% cash back on home improvement store purchases up to $400. So I’m paying with my Discover card for another $20 off for an absolute final price of $215, excluding taxes. Yes, I am the KING of deals!
Thursday evening, we went back to HD to do the paperwork. That way, I just walk in early Friday morning on the way to work, pay for it, and leave because I expect there will be a mob.
There’s a problem. The model I had picked out is no longer available. There were three “in the warehouse” when we visited on Tuesday. Now, they’re gone! We managed to find another model with the same features for the same price. But…no $50 Maytag rebate. Price is now back up to $265. I can live with it.
Friday morning, I arrived at HD at 6:30 AM and was relieved not find many vehicles in the parking lot. The early bird rebater gets in and out without a wait! ( The local paper reported about 30 folks waiting at hhgregg before 6 AM.)
But as I reviewed the paperwork after the sale, I didn’t see anything documenting that HD would haul off the old dishwasher. Without that, I wouldn’t receive the $75 “haul off” rebate. That took about 25 minutes to straighten out. (Moral: don’t trust others to look out for you when money is involved… verify!) I still arrived at work 30 minutes early.
My biggest concern from the beginning was the 11 AM Friday opening of the rebate website for obtaining a priority number. Rebate requests with priority numbers are handled first. If any funds are left over, the other folks can get in line. I was convinced that when 11 AM arrived, the rebate website wouldn’t be able to handle the crush.
I was right. I tried to log on at 11:01 and received a “cannot connect – the website is experiencing problems” error message. I tried every five minutes and was finally able to connect at 11:35. But it was sloooow….
Three registration attempts resulted in nothing happening for a good 30-45 seconds before a “server busy” error message popped up and I was taken back to the registration screen. At least my information wasn’t lost. After I was finally able to register, I had the same problem trying to get a priority number. I received a priority number after an excruciating 25 minutes. (Later, I read that the website was receiving 300,000 hits per second right after it opened at 11 AM.)
After receiving my priority number, I noticed that a “balance countdown” area of the screen showed about $15 million remaining from an allocation of $17 million. At 1 PM, I was curious about the balance and went to the website. No problem connecting.
The balance was now down to $7 million. That’s $10 million accounted for in two hours! At 8 PM, the balance was $3.6 million. At 7:15 PM Saturday evening, it was down to about $405,000.
Thursday morning, I’ll mail in the rebate forms after getting the dishwasher’s serial number following delivery Wednesday. I can track the rebate’s status online. By the time summer arrives, I should have $165 towards a vacation in the form of a prepaid AmEx card. I’ll need it…I’m looking at a week in New York City during September.
(I have a prioirty number but I need cash now!)