February 28th, 2008

Your reality check is in the mail

I was enticed into buying a cheap graphics card from Amazon a few months ago by the combined effect of its already low price and a rebate offer. Yeah, you know, rebates, those incentives vendors toss out at you to make their products look cheaper, when in reality, most buyers will probably just forget or never get around to submitting the needed materials.

Well, I'm one of those pains-in-the-butt who jeopardizes our free-market way of life by always submitting rebates. I even create a file (electronic and/or paper) with all the relevant information and dates so I know when to expect further action, and when to follow up if necessary. Because there's nothing I hate more than letting myself fall prey to the sneaky, subversive tactics of sales and marketing people. That principle alone is almost more important to me than the money itself. But seriously, folks.

I actually waited a few weeks before submitting this one because I wanted to make sure the card was going to work, after experiencing a few earlier disappointments while looking for a card that would coexist with my poor old machine. But everything seemed to be cool, so I went ahead and mailed in the rebate back around the end of December.

Rebates, of course, typically take about 2000 years, give or take a century, to process. In fact, one might wonder whether the antichrist is supposed to arrive around this point in history just to pick up a check for a rebate Jesus mailed in after ordering some Miracle-Gro off of Tigris or perhaps Euphrates.com.

Anyway, getting back to the point here, I received an e-mail a few days ago informing me that my check was on its way. And the wording of the e-mail made it an instant classic:

... Your fulfillment has been mailed and you should be receiving it shortly ...


Really? My fulfillment? Will happiness and success be arriving via UPS around the same time? Could they possibly FedEx me some fame and fortune while they're at it? When enlightenment can be delivered to my door, I'll be impressed. (And no, a Nirvana CD doesn't count.)

(I'm aware that "fulfillment" is a term typically used in connection with rebate redemption, but somehow, the way it was used in that particular sentence just registered a bit differently through my warped view of the world.)

It reminds me of the time many years ago when I applied to live in a particular program house at Cornell, and the Residence Hall Director (i.e. homo-in-chief in this particular case) e-mailed me to let me know that once a room became available, he would be sending it via e-mail. Self-extracting .zip, perhaps? Data compression technology certainly has come a long way.

Okay, playtime's over for now. Back to your regularly scheduled program.