Rebate offers can be irresistible to consumers, slashing the price of consumer goods at the time of purchase or promising partial or full reimbursements after the purchase. Some manufacturers and retailers entice shoppers with instant cash rebates that can be redeemed immediately at the checkout counter. But most rebates are of the mail-in variety. They require the consumer to pay full cost of an item at the time of the purchase, and then send documentation to the manufacturer or retailer to receive a rebate by mail.
The documentation required generally includes the original sales receipt, UPC code, rebate slip, and the customer’s name, address and telephone number. In most cases, the paperwork must be sent to the manufacturer or retailer within thirty days of the purchase. Consumers generally receive their rebates up to 12 weeks later.
When purchasing a product that offers a rebate, the Federal Trade Commission encourages consumers to:
• Follow the instructions on the rebate form and enclose all required documentation when filing for a rebate.
• Make a copy of all the paperwork to be mailed. It is the only record a consumer will have if anything goes wrong with the transaction.
• Contact the company if the rebate does not arrive within the promised time.
• If the rebate never arrives, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, Attorney General or the local Better Business Bureau.