Rebate rip-offs have sparked consumer lawsuits and new legislation. Many who buy products promoted with “cash” rebates are enraged when the rebate is too hard to apply for, is unreasonably delayed, takes the form of a “reward” credit card, is a credit toward purchases limited to the issuing manufacturer, or never arrives at all.
A federal court in California has allowed cell phone buyers who received Visa “reward cards” to file a class action. Purchasers allege violations of federal laws against unfair competition, false advertising, and unjust enrichment.
There are other consumer-rebate cases as well:
- When thousands complained to InPhonic, Inc., in 2006, Washington D.C.’s attorney general sued for the company’s failure to honor rebates. The city and InPhonic reached a multimillion-dollar settlement.
- In 2007, California computer retailer Soyo, Inc., reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over complaints about excessive delays in rebate processing.
What a buyer can do
Obtaining rebates can be challenging. To avoid rebate rage…
- Shop at reputable merchants.
- Obtain duplicate cash register receipts.
- Apply for rebates immediately.
- Photocopy all submitted materials.
- Submit via certified mail.
- Maintain transaction and call notes.
- Be persistent.
- Cash rebate checks immediately.
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