NEW YORK, NY (12/29/2010)(readMedia release)-- The New York State Consumer Protection Board (CPB) is alerting consumers to a new State law that provides important information about rebate offers made by manufacturers and retailers.
Taking effect January 1, 2011, the law requires any entity that offers rebates to conspicuously disclose to consumers:
If the rebate will be issued in a form other than cash or a check, including but not limited to credit, credit towards a future purchase, gift certificate, gift card, general use prepaid card or any other form of compensation, and
If any additional fees related to the exercise or the non-exercise of the rebate may apply.
The measure also requires any retailer advertising a rebate to clearly disclose if the rebate will be issued to the consumer in a form other than cash or a check, including but not limited to credit, credit towards a future purchase, gift certificate, gift card, general use prepaid card or any other form of compensation.
"Consumers are entitled to know the terms of a rebate before they decide whether to purchase a product," said Mindy A. Bockstein, the CPB's Chairperson and Executive Director. "This measure will ensure that consumers receive the information they need to make an informed marketplace decision. They will now reap the benefits of knowing what form their rebate will take before they make a purchase. The law will also provide clear guidance to businesses that use rebates to bolster customer relationships and loyalty."
In recent years, rebate offers have become an increasingly popular method for businesses to attract customers, who appreciate the opportunity to save money on items they wish to purchase, and tend to respond favorably when rebates are offered on such products.
However, manufacturers and retailers, which offer rebates, do not always make the terms of the rebate clear to consumers at the point of sale. While consumers tend to assume that a rebate will be in the form of a check, some rebates are actually provided in the form of a credit toward the purchase of another product. If the rebate is provided in the form of a pre-paid card to make the additional purchase, consumers can face undisclosed fees for activation, checking of balances, and account maintenance for periods of inactivity.
For more information about rebates offers and other consumer topics, visit www.nysconsumer.gov or call the CPB toll-free at 1-800-697-1220.
The CPB, established in 1970 by the New York State Legislature, is marking its 40th anniversary as the State's top consumer watchdog and think tank. The CPB's core mission is to protect New Yorkers by publicizing unscrupulous and questionable business practices and product recalls; conducting investigations and hearings; enforcing the Do Not Call law; researching issues; developing legislation; creating consumer education programs and materials; responding to individual marketplace complaints by securing voluntary agreements; and, representing the interests of consumers before the Public Service Commission and other State and federal agencies.