Consumer Basics


Rebates are often unredeemed.

Ah, the rebate – the way companies can advertise that their product only costs $75 (with their 25% off mail-in rebate) and then charge us the full $100 when we get to the store and make it to the register.  So, what does the product cost – $75 or $100?  Well, that’s really up to you, but if you’re like the vast majority of us, the answer is $100.

Research suggests that hundreds of millions of dollars in available rebates go unredeemed by consumers each year.  Shoppers routinely allow themselves to be enticed by rebate offers while in stores, then fail to apply for the rebate when they get home.  And those hundreds of millions of dollars to which we’re entitled stay in the pockets of the companies offering them.

Obviously, the reason that companies offer rebates in the first place is because THEY KNOW that you are not likely to jump through all the hoops necessary to claim the rebate.  They believe that you’ll probably just go home, set aside your receipt and rebate form, and forget about the whole thing.  And, the vast majority of the time, they’re totally right.

As for the hoops that you’ll have to go through to get your rebate, there are typically quite a few.  Keep these in mind next time you’re reeled in by an amazing rebate offer:

  1. Carefully follow all the directions when completing your rebate application form;
  2. Be sure to make copies of all materials submitted to the company offering the rebate;
  3. Send your rebate application by registered mail to ensure that the company offering the rebate takes delivery of your application;
  4. Be prepared to follow-up on your rebate application.  Even if the company you’re doing business with is a well-known enterprise, there’s no guarantee that your rebate will be processed in a timely manner.  Companies as well known as Samsung, TigerDirect and CompUSA have found themselves caught-up in rebate-related controversies within the past several years; and, finally;
  5. If the company fails to honor the promised rebate in a timely manner, you’ll need to follow-up with the company and/or think about filing a complaint with the FTC, your state’s attorney general or

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