As you tidy up from the holidays, don’t throw away packaging or sales receipts if you plan to file for rebates. Those items may be required to secure your reimbursement.
Companies offer billions in discount and rebate coupons every year – on everything from toothbrushes to digital cameras -- but not every consumer makes the effort to collect. According to the Promotional Marketing Association, the average redemption rate is about one in five. Some consumers who go through the redemption process miss the filing deadline or submit insufficient information. Those who do succeed in claiming their rebates can save hundreds of dollars.
If you were among the holiday shoppers enticed to purchase gifts offering rebates, the Better Business Bureau suggests that you review rebate offers as soon as possible and note expiration dates. You may be approaching the filing deadline. In most cases, rebate paperwork must be sent to the manufacturer or retailer within 30 days of the product purchase.
Rebate offers typically require consumers to mail the requested documentation to a redemption address, but some retailers offer the opportunity to file for a rebate online. Check the company Web site if you have rebate questions.
The documentation required usually includes the original sales receipt, UPC code (it sometimes must be cut from the product package), rebate certificate, and the customer’s name, address and telephone number or e-mail address. Consumers generally receive their rebates within 12 weeks of submitting their documentation.
To help assure a successful rebate claim, the BBB encourage consumers to:
- Follow the instructions exactly as detailed on the rebate form and provide all requested documentation.
- Consider sending your rebate paperwork via certified mail if you want to secure proof that you mailed your form by the required deadline.
- Make a copy of all paperwork that you submit when applying for your rebate. It’s the only record you will have of the transaction if anything goes wrong.
- Contact the company if the rebate does not arrive within the time promised. According to the Federal Trade Commission, companies are required by law to send rebates within the time frame promised, or if no time is specified, within a “reasonable” amount of time.
- If the rebate never arrives or arrives late, consider filing a complaint with the BBB at www.bbb.org.