Many companies will promote offers for free phones after rebate or phones with a rebate that actually makes you money (This happens when rebates and deals combine to add up to more than what you actually paid for the phone).
Look for the words "after rebate" before you buy and then make sure you understand exactly what you have to do to get your rebate and how long you have to wait to get it.
There's a reason why manufacturers want the receipt, a proof of purchase sale from the box, etc. As few as 5 percent of buyers successfully claim rebates. The rest have good intentions, but forget to make the claim, file it too late, or don't complete it correctly.
Bottom line: That free phone won't be free if you don't claim the rebate. And be prepared to pay meticulous attention to the requirements, and make copies of everything.
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