In theory, a cash rebate on a product is a great idea, but the reality in most cases is that getting it can be a huge hassle. At the beginning, it seems simple enough. Make a purchase online or in a store, fill out a rebate form, then send it with the original receipt and the UPC code from the packaging and you should get money back on your purchase. It may even be possible to register for your rebate online.
It is at this point that the cash rebate scenario often derails from the simple concept. You usually have to wait a minimum of a month (and sometimes much longer) before you receive a weird postcard you almost throw away until you realize it’s a check. This process can be so time consuming because it’s often not the company that you purchased the product from that is processing the rebate, but a third party company they have hired.
Things can get worse if your request for a rebate is denied. Maybe you missed some small detail in the fine print or missed a deadline for which you were not aware. Some consumers even speculate that manufacturers and retailers intentionally deny perfectly valid rebate requests since they know that many people won’t bother following up to claim their cash.
This can make the entire cash rebate process a much more time consuming and frustrating experience than many think it should be. If you have an opinion on cash rebates, you will have an opportunity to share it. The Federal Trade Commission is hosting a free public workshop on this topic in San Francisco on April 27, 2007. Consumer advocates, government officials, business people and members of the general public are welcome to participate. According to the FTC, the workshop “will provide an opportunity to discuss consumers’ perspectives on rebates and challenges businesses face when they offer rebates, and will explore best practices’ in the offering and fulfillment of rebates.”
The FTC would like you to submit your written comments, opinions and suggestions for workshop topics, speakers, and participants. You can send these suggestions to the FTC at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information and details about The Rebate Debate workshop, you can visit the FTC’s website.
By pfadvice contributing writer Valerie S. Johnson