Mounting Frustrations Over Mail-In Rebates
Apr. 23 - KGO (KGO) -- Consumers finding it difficult to get promised rebates will get a chance to vent their frustrations at federal hearings in San Francisco this Friday. So what sparked the hearings?
You've seen the offers -- buy a new computer monitor and get a $100 dollar mail in rebate. Purchase a cell phone and receive a $50 dollar saving after mail in rebate. Sounds simple, but federal regulators are learning these rebates aren't as easy to get as promised.
Nick Roche of Belmont is still waiting for the check promised from a mail in rebate offer. He purchased a laptop computer right before Christmas. Roche is extra careful when applying for rebates. He sends everything certified mail and even requests a return receipt. But his frustration with rebates is mounting. 7 On Your Side helped him with a similar rebate problem earlier this year.
Nick Roche: "I would like to see the state of California ban them. I think it is abusive."
Kerry O'Brien is an attorney in San Francisco with the Federal Trade Commission. She too is aware of the growing anger from consumers about rebate offers.
Kerry O'Brien, Attorney: "For sometime we've been receiving thousands and thousands of complaints from consumers who are just frustrated over the fact they haven't received their rebate checks in the mail."
The Federal Trade Commission will be holding a workshop in downtown San Francisco this Friday to find ways to make rebate offers run more smoothly. Representatives from various companies and consumers are expected to attend.
Kerry O'Brien: "I think when rebates go bad for consumers; they go bad for companies as well because they may be losing the good will of consumers."
Just two years ago, the FTC settled charges against Comp USA following accusations the superstore failed to pay in a timely manner thousands of rebates. The superstore agreed to make good on the rebates which ranged from $15 dollars to $100 dollars.
Most companies farm out to other companies the work of processing rebate claims. Often consumers must follow detailed instructions. When the instructions aren't followed, the rebates are rejected.
Nick Roche, Belmont: "They clearly make it overly complicated for the individual to claim their rebate."
Kerry O'Brien: "One of the exciting things about the rebate workshop we will be hearing from some companies who are trying to streamline that process and just make it a lot easier for consumers."
Once again, the hearing is this Friday from 9 am to 4:30 pm at the San Francisco State downtown campus on 835 Market Street.
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