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What a Savvy Consumer Should Know About In-Store-Only Rebates

It sounds like a good deal: “10% Off EVERYTHING!” But take a closer look. You are not getting that $50 item for $45.00 ($50 less 10%). Instead, you have to pay full price today and get money off on a future in-store purchase — after you fill out and timely mail in your rebate form with proper documentation. 

A number of consumers have complained about companies offering temporary in-store-only rebates with terms or conditions so complicated that many consumers will either fail to send in the requisite paperwork or fail to redeem the rebate altogether. As a result, they never receive the “discount.”

As a savvy shopper, it pays to take a moment to read and understand any offer. And while it is not illegal to offer in-store-only rebates, it also may not be in your best interest.

Note: If you purchase a rebate-eligible product and never receive the promised rebate, you should file a consumer complaint with our office immediately so we can track and pursue as appropriate.

Rebate Reality

  • The fine print may limit your discount to “stock on hand” and inform you that by submitting a rebate form, you agree to binding arbitration for any dispute about the rebate and you waive your right to file or participate in any class action lawsuit about the rebate.
  • Your rebate — a paper check — may be mailed to you in a piece of junk mail. The retailer is hoping you will not open it and instead throw it away.
  • Beware of multiple rebates for the same item: the rebate process may be overly complicated and require separate mailings and different proofs of purchase.
  • Don’t be surprised if for some items, the proof of purchase is hard to get at — you have to destroy the package to get at it — or it is hidden under a flap where you don’t think to look.

Complaints should be directed to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division:

Consumer Protection Division
P.O. Box 30213
Lansing, MI 48909
Fax: 517-241-3771
Toll free: 877-765-8388
Online complaint form

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