Canada's Competition Bureau is advising consumers to check the fine print of rebate offers to ensure they are getting the deal they think they are.
The Bureau advises that before making a purchase, consumers should always read the terms and conditions that accompany a rebate offer, in order to determine whether:
- there is a deadline to apply or an expiry date for the rebate;
- they must buy another product to qualify;
- they need to provide more than just a receipt to receive the rebate;
- there is a limit on the number of rebates per household; and/or
- there are any restrictions on geographic location and/or mailing address, such as a rural address, which may affect your eligibility.
True rebates involve a partial refund or discount on the purchase of a product, which is normally paid in the form of cash or a cheque. By contrast, some promotions offer gift cards or credits to be used on future purchases. While these may be a good deal, they are not rebates.
Once the consumer has read the fine print and has decided to follow through with the purchase, he or she should:
- ask for two copies of the receipt (one to mail in and another to keep for his or her records);
- carefully follow the instructions on the rebate form and include all required documents; and
- make copies of everything, in case the rebate is delayed or not honoured.
The Competition Bureau has produced a pamphlet entitled Rebates: The Real Deal, which contains information to help consumers make more informed decisions about rebates.
When rebates are not promoted or administered correctly, it is consumers and honest competitors who ultimately pay the price, said Melanie L. Aitken, Commissioner of Competition. Our hope is that Canadians will use this pamphlet to better inform themselves about how to get the best deal possible from consumer rebate promotions.
Rebates: the Real Deal is a collaboration between the Competition Bureau and Industry Canadas Office of Consumer Affairs. Consumers with concerns related to consumer rebate programs are encouraged to contact the Bureau's Information Centre at 1-800- 348-5358.
The Bureau has also recently released its Enforcement Guidelines on Consumer Rebate Promotions, which provides the Bureau's approach to interpreting the false or misleading representations provisions of the Competition Act, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, and the Textile Labelling Act in the area of consumer rebate promotions.
For more information, please consult the Rebates section of the Bureau's Web site at www.bureaudelaconcurrence.gc.ca.
The Competition Bureau is an independent law enforcement agency that contributes to the prosperity of Canadians by protecting and promoting competitive markets and enabling informed consumer choice.