Many commenters to my earlier entry on sales in France had questions about rebates. Slate explained the whole rebate thing back in 2003. The short version: There are two types of rebates, manufacturer rebates and retailer rebates. Manufacturer rebates exist because they want the retail price to go down, but they are afraid that if they just lowered the wholesale price, retailers would not pass the savings on to the consumer. A manufacturer's rebate ensures that all the benefit of the price drop goes to the consumer and not to any middle-men. Retailer rebates, on the other hand, are carefully crafted schemes designed to trick the consumer into buying the product and then failing to meet all the requirements for redeeming the rebate coupon. Read the Slate article for details.