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How to Avoid the Rebate Trap

There are some steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of the rebate trap. The simplest is to boycott rebates. Instead, shop for a low up-front price, instead of a price that will be low only if a rebate is paid.

If you are persuaded that the rebate offers the best bargain, be sure to:

  • Read the offer carefully before you buy small print is usually the trap. Be sure you know what you will need to redeem the rebate and be sure you have it before leaving the store.
  • Make copies of everything. This includes receipts, the correctly filled-in rebate coupon and all the information the offer requires. Staple these to the manual or put them in a warranty file if you keep one. If you don't, start keeping one. Save all your warranties, major-purchase receipts and rebate coupcns with your other important papers.
  • Promptly fill in the rebate form. It's easy to forget to do so in the excitement of enjoying your new toy. Companies count on your missing the mailing date.
  • Mail it certified, return receipt requested! Be sure to keep the receipt when it is returned to you. Keep it with the rest of the rebate material. This makes it difficult for the company to deny receiving the rebate from you. Anyone who falsifies information about certified mail can face criminal mail fraud charges.
  • Be sure to keep the contact information should you need to complain to the manufacturer about lack of a rebate check.

Next: When Things Go Wrong

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