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Rebates That You Should Avoid

How to Tell If Companies Have Poor Rebate Redemption Policies


Have you ever felt victimized by a company that refuses to send you a rebate check that you deserved? Have you received a denial letter with some lame excuse about why you do not qualify for the rebate? If so, you are not alone. Many companies are guilty of making the entire rebate process for customers so difficult that actually qualifying for the rebate becomes almost impossible.

Why Do Companies Make Getting Rebate Back So Hard?

In truth, many companies do not really expect to send out rebate checks, or at least not very many. According to a 2013 report from Consumer Affairs, over $500 million in rebates go unclaimed every year. Out of the small percentage of people requesting rebates, an average of 40 to 60 percent will not get the rebate check because of an error they made on the rebate request form. The error can be a small oversight, like an "e" that looks like a "c" on the person's name. That is when the small print on rebate forms are first noticed. Most rebate "agreements" specify that if the rebate form is not properly filled out than the company has the right to deny the rebate.

Buyers Beware

There are certain practices that companies with reputations for not making good on advertised rebates tend to follow. Before expecting money back on a rebate, check to see if the company has any of the these policies in effect and if they do, get clarification or even better, shop elsewhere.

  • Companies that do not accept copies of receipts.

  • Companies that require shoppers to write identifying information on the rebate form, unless the receipt does not identify the purchased product.

  • Companies that do not send rebate checks in a manner which identifies the piece of mail as the expected rebate check.

  • Companies offering rebates that require information that is not necessary to process the rebate, including information other than name, address and phone number.

  • Companies that fail to provide telephone numbers or contact information for rebate inquiries so shoppers are able check on the status of the rebates.

  • Companies that fail to provide customers at least 30 days to redeem their rebates and who do not fulfill the terms of the rebate within the same amount of time required of the shoppers, not exceeding 60 days.

Knowing what to watch out for and following the proper rebate instructions should help make the redemption process a more positive experience. If unresolved problems still arise, do not give up and do take action.

Finger Pointing

One problem with rebates is that most companies hire outside companies to handle the process and issuing of the rebate checks. When customers start complaining about not getting their rebate, the finger pointing begins. The companies send the customer to the service handling the rebates and in return the services blame the companies for slow payment. This generally occurs after several other attempts have been made by the customer to get help.

You would think that companies would want to avoid disgruntled customers, especially in today's competitive retail environment, but there seems to be an blind eye in the industry to the massive amount of problems that consumers experience with rebates. The problem is so bad, that Consumer Reports strongly suggests to shoppers to buy where the price is low at the store and avoid rebates altogether.

Do Not Give Up

If you have been unsuccessful in with your efforts to get a deserved rebate check, do not give up. That is exactly what the companies hope you will do. Instead, you must be relentless and write down the names, dates and times that you spoke to the various company representatives about the problem. If the issue is not resolved, contact the state's Attorney General where the corporate headquarters are based. You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission or submit your complaint by telephone. The phone number is 877-382-4357.

More: How to Avoid the Rebate Rip-Off

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