Here are some frequently asked questions and consumer tips regarding rebates:
- 1. Are there any laws regulating rebates?
- There are very few federal or state laws that specifically address rebates. Federal law says rebates that are properly redeemed by the consumer must be honored in a reasonable time. Beyond that rebates and rebate companies are governed by the same fair trade laws as other companies that sell goods and services in Missouri.
- 2. Are any rebates illegal in Missouri?
- None are specifically banned. The only type of rebate mentioned in Missouri law is any rebated offered with the purchase of alcohol. While this is legal, it is illegal for an advertisement to give the price of the alcoholic beverage after the rebate.
- 3. Why do companies offer rebates?
- According to national statistics, less than 40% of consumers actually redeem mail-in rebates. That's how companies that offer rebates make money. Most rebates are handled by manufacturers or third-party companies, rather than directly by the retail store selling the discounted product.
- 4. What types of consumer complaints does the Attorney General see regarding rebates?
- In the vast majority of our complaints, consumers say they get their rebate much later than they expect, if at all. This applies to rebates in the form of cash, a check store credit, etc. Another common complaint is that the rebate is not what they expected. For example, with a $50 rebate, they expect a check. Instead they get a credit card usable only at a particular store.
- 5. What should I consider before I purchase a rebated product?
- Be sure that you understand the steps required to redeem the rebate, and can afford or would be willing to purchase the product at its full price in case you can't meet the rebate's requirements.
- 6. What's the best way for me to make sure I get the rebate I'm owed?
- Make sure to follow the instructions on the rebate form exactly.
- Keep copies of receipts, document what you have mailed in and when.
- Mark your calendar for deadline dates. For example, you may have to mail in your rebate form within 30 days. The company may promise to have your rebate back to you within 90 days of receiving your form.
- Ask where to call in case there is trouble filling out paperwork or you do not receive your rebate. A product's retailer is often not in charge of redeeming your rebate, and it can be confusing to know who to contact.
- Ask for two copies of the rebate form in case you make an error on the first one.
- Make sure the rebate coupon is not expired before you make your purchase.
- 7. What are the most common industries or products that use rebates?
- Computers, computer accessories, wireless phones and other electronics. However, we have seen rebates used with everything from cars to hot tubs to jewelry.
- 8. What can I do if I don't get my rebate?
- You can file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office, either by calling our Consumer Protection Hotline, 1-800-392-8222, or using our online complaint form. Our office handles many of these complaints each year and has good success in mediation, usually getting consumers the rebates they are owed.