The offers are irresistible but misleading; retailers advertise after-rebate prices on hardware and software to grab your attention and get you to buy. But are you really getting the bargain you expected?
They’re Counting On You To Forget
According to the NPD Group, a global market research firm, almost one-third of all computer products and twenty percent of all consumer electronics are sold with a rebate. Manufacturers use rebates as an easy way to offer discounts without actually having to take the full financial hit; that’s because thirty to fifty percent of the buyers never attempt to redeem them and therefore end up paying full price for the merchandise.
Get Ready To Jump Through Multiple Hoops
To further tip the scales in their favor of not having to pay out, some manufacturers and retailers are imposing impossible restrictions, complicating the process to request a rebate, delaying payments, and creating other barriers that make it difficult to get your money. All of these are delay tactics to get you to give up on the idea of getting your rebate out of frustration.
New Laws Protect You
With consumer complaints to the FTC and Better Business Bureau piling up, regulators have tightened the rules around advertising rebates.
Last year, the Federal Trade Commission settled its first dispute with a Dallas-based CompUSA store for knowingly advertising rebates from computer peripherals manufacturer Qps Inc., even though they knew this manufacturer wasn’t fulfilling on the rebates advertised.
After this settlement, CompUSA was not only required to advertise the time frame for securing the rebates advertised, but also had to take financial responsibility for any rebates not paid during the promised time frame.
Even though the government is on your side, getting stuck in the middle of a rebate war is very frustrating and a huge waste of time. If you are going to try to cash in on a rebate, here are some tips that will help.
5 Tips To Collecting Your Promised Rebate
Follow the rebate instructions carefully. Many manufacturers will reject a rebate over a tiny technicality. That means reading the small print and following the instructions to the letter.
Make a copy of all the paperwork, receipts, and documents before mailing them off. Some manufacturers may request the original receipt; if you mail in your only copy, you could be out of luck if it gets “lost” in the mail.
Mail your rebate via certified mail to have proof of delivery.
Schedule a reminder to yourself to call the company if your rebate doesn’t show up within the time frame promised. Most companies will have a web site or toll-free number to call to track your rebate.
If the manufacturer rejects your rebate or is holding your check, let them know you plan on contacting the FTC or the BBB. Ask the people you speak to for their names and ask them to speak to their supervisor.
As a final word of advice, only purchase things you can afford without the rebate.
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