Millions In Rebates Never Redeemed

With the economy in a slump, companies are offering more rebates to try and boost sales. Consumer Reports survey reveals a staggering amount of mail-in rebates go unclaimed.

Rebates can be a powerful incentive to convince people to make a purchase, but Consumer Reports' Tod Marks says not everyone takes advantage of them.

"Many people just can't be bothered. And that's money in the bank for manufacturers, which is why they like them so much," said Marks.

A nationwide Consumer Reports' survey of 1,000 adults shows 25% never take advantage of available rebates, saying-

--Rebates require too many steps.

--The dollar amount is too small

--They missed the deadline

--They were skeptical they'd get their money

"Well, that skepticism is really well deserved. In our survey, one in five people didn't get the rebate they applied for, or were disqualified for some technicality," said Marks.

Consumer Reports' advice-first try to get a good price without a rebate.

But if a rebate is offered, get ready to do some work.

"Companies don't necessarily make it easy to get that rebate." said Marks. "And the higher the dollar value, the more hoops you have to jump through."

Be sure to copy everything, in case your claim is lost or rejected.

Mail your paperwork right way, before the deadline.

And sort through your mail carefully. Rebate checks look a lot like junk mail.

Filing for a rebate can take a little effort, which means maybe "free money" isn't really "free" after all.

Consumer Reports says it's also a good idea to mark your calendar a few weeks ahead of when your refund is due so you're on the lookout for it.

If you have a problem with a rebate, contact the company.

And if the problem isn't resolved to your satisfaction, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission or the Attorney General in the state where the company is based.

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