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Rebate Sparks Controversy

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Apple USA today announced a new "On the Spot" rebate program that promises hundreds of dollars in instant point-of-purchase rebates to customers buying certain Macintosh models and peripherals in the United States, but appears to have put itself, and many dealers, "on the spot" in the process.

At first glance, this rebate offer isn't all that different from previous offers. Essentially, Apple is providing an incentive for people to come into the store, as well as a way of boosting sales of some models that aren't selling too well or whose prices might be dropping in the future. (Typically, such price drops don't outshine the rebates that proceed them, so there's no need to wait.) However, unlike with previous rebate programs, in this case, Apple is asking some of its dealers to lay out the money that's being handed to the customers.

Difficult logistics apparently prompted Apple to leave one segment of its dealership population in this position, while other dealers are receiving the rebate funds "in advance," in a sense, through discounts on the related purchases from Apple. Unfortunately, the details reached dealers so shortly before the beginning of the program that there was little anyone could do but express astonishment.

The good news for Macintosh users and prospective buyers is that, while some dealers may elect not to participate because of Apple's approach, most will, and the rebates are quite attractive.

Affected computers include the Centris 610 and Macintosh IIvx, and rebates range from $125 to $300 depending on the specific computer and configuration you choose. The IIvx, an unimpressive but solid, respectable computer, has already been reduced in price dramatically, and the rebate should make the price positively sensational. (It should also make the IIvx good competition for the hard-to-find LC III.)

There are also rebates on a variety of popular peripherals, to further sweeten the deal. The rebate is simple; the amount is simply subtracted from your purchase price (after taxes, sorry!) before you sign the check. It could just make the difference between affording an almost-as-good system, or the one you really wanted.

-- Information from:
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