Why rebates, not discounts?

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q. Why do computer and other companies offer rebates instead of just selling a product at a lower price? It seems like there are always strings attached such as receiving a rebate check that can only be used to purchase other company products.

A. There are three primary reasons companies offer rebates, in addition to being a purchase incentive: First, the time between the purchase and the rebate can be several weeks, a period in which your money is in the company's possession, working to its advantage. This may seem insignificant, but for a company that sells hundreds of thousands of widgets, it can be substantial.

Second, what better way for a company to obtain your personal data for subsequent contact or to sell to others than by offering you money (in the form of a rebate) for your information?

Third, companies know that many people are busy or lazy (or both) and won't go to the trouble of cutting out the bar code or providing the requisite paperwork to obtain a rebate. In this way, the company gets to attract purchasers by advertising a low price, and in most instances selling an item for a higher price because the purchaser never applies for the rebate. What a deal!

Q. Can you explain the difference between “Read Only,” “Hidden,” and “Archive” options for files?

A. Those items are flags or what are formally called file attributes that describe various characteristics of a file. Technically, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but since I only have two remaining neurons, I need to keep this as simple as possible:

When you right-click a file and select Properties, near the bottom of the Properties dialog box you will see the Attributes section. The Read-Only attribute, as its name implies, causes a file to be "read-only," meaning that you can view it, but you cannot edit or delete it.

The Hidden attribute causes a file to be invisible under certain circumstances, such as when lists of files are displayed or there is a full moon. There are certain files within Windows that most of us have no business accessing, so those are frequently hidden. No good can come from a user accessing hidden files, so to protect us from ourselves, Microsoft designates certain files as “hidden.” System files are generally hidden files, and are critical to the performance and operation of Windows.

The Archive attribute was created by Microsoft to allow developers to quickly determine whether a file requires a backup (archive) copy. The Archive attribute is established whenever an existing file is either overwritten or modified. The idea, in general, is to signal a backup program that a certain file needs to be backed up. A backup program may not know to back up a new or modified file without the addition of the Archive attribute.

Generally speaking, the average user will never need to interact with attributes. And all things considered, that’s not a bad thing.

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