California adopts new rebate law

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California is finally providing firm direction on how rebates must be managed, at least in California.

The legislation is CA Senate #1154.
Among other things, it provides that the postmark deadline must be at least 30 days from date of purchase.
Also, it specifies that rebate checks must be issued within 60 days of approval of rebate submission (kind of vague, but it's something).
The new law also limits somewhat the personal information that can be requested on a rebate form.
The law goes into effect 7/1/05.

california rebate law

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slamjoe said: <blockquote><hr>thank you OP! my OMax rebate was recently invalidated due to postmarking it 1 day after th... (more)

johnstexas (Jan. 16, 2006 @ 12:20p) |

johnstexas said: <blockquote><hr>slamjoe said: <blockquote><hr>thank you OP! my OMax rebate was recently invalidated due... (more)

fish777 (Jan. 16, 2006 @ 3:04p) |

I've done that a couple of times, realizing on Saturday night that they were due, but sent them out on Monday (no mail S... (more)

johnstexas (Jan. 16, 2006 @ 5:31p) |

Law is VETOED by Gov. Schwarzenegger on 9/30/2004.

I like this.

[Q] 22735. A company that offers a consumer rebate shall allow a
minimum of 30 days from the date the consumer purchases the product,
or becomes eligible for the rebate pursuant to subdivision (b) of
Section 22736, for the consumer to submit the rebate request.
22736. A company shall mail the rebate check or transmit the
rebate funds to the consumer or fulfill the terms of the rebate offer
within the same number of days provided to the consumer to submit
the rebate request pursuant to Section 22735, but in no event later
than 60 days from either of the following events as applicable:
(a) Upon receipt of a consumer rebate request meeting the terms
and conditions of the rebate offer, to the extent permitted by this
chapter and as disclosed at the time of purchase.


So, if only 30 days are allowed for submission (which is the minimum), the rebate check should be mail within 30 days. And if 60 or more days are allowed to mail the submission, 60 days to receive the check. Even if a year is allowed (like with the Norton UPG rebates. Well if you bought in early 04 you have until Jan 05, IIRC) you still get it in 60 days. Then again Norton rebate come back in about 30 days anyway.

Will be nice on those OMax ones that now allow 14 days to get it extended and also a lot of memory rebates and PNY video cards too.

I hope Texas passes a similar law.

BTW, thanks for the article Frank.

I think the law will have a nationwide effect. Here's why:

Almost 75% of technology companies are headquartered in California, so all of them are subject directly to the law.

The law pertains to anyone who offers a rebate to a California resident, and that affects the remainder of companies (even though California would have a tougher time enforcing it's law on companies outside of its jurisdiction).

No matter, since everyone will have to comply with the California law where it pertains to California residents, they will not be able to differentiate them from residents of other states and so they will be forced to apply the terms of the law to everyone.



Thanks for the heads up Frank.

This is significant. I like that it finally spells out in law that a copy of the receipt shall be sufficient proof of purchase, or as an alternate, which Staples, OfficeMax, Circuit City, and Fry's are doing, is to print out separate rebate receipts for each item. I've always believed that requiring the original receipt was a waste of time on everyone's part - it does not deter rebate fraud, forces the retailer to ring up each purchase separately for people who buy more than one rebatable item slowing down the check out lines, etc, and that a copy of the receipt with the original UPC symbol should have been enough proof of purchase.

Recently, I purchased a Bell bike helmet and fishing rods from a sporting goods store with rebates available on all items and was given one receipt. Unfortunately I was given the rebate forms after the purchase so I could not read the terms before purchase - and I didn't read the terms until I got home assuming they would be standard; the Bell rebate required original receipt/UPC and they would not even consider accepting a copy of the receipt. I had to go back to the store to have them do a return and re-ring the items. What a waste of time, gas, energy, natural resources, etc.

Edit - The bill does allow UPCs as a legitimate form of proof of purchase.

tcarebates said: [Q]I think the law will have a nationwide effect. Here's why:

Almost 75% of technology companies are headquartered in California, so all of them are subject directly to the law.

The law pertains to anyone who offers a rebate to a California resident, and that affects the remainder of companies (even though California would have a tougher time enforcing it's law on companies outside of its jurisdiction).

No matter, since everyone will have to comply with the California law where it pertains to California residents, they will not be able to differentiate them from residents of other states and so they will be forced to apply the terms of the law to everyone.

Not sure about the last part. What is to stop companies from telling the fulfillment house to pay California residents rebates first. Then delaying funding to pay other states' residents rebates.

The other option for companies is simple, just add "Offer not valid in California" to the rebate forms


True, a vendor could ask the rebate company to pay California consumers first. That is not easily done, and the logistics would be a nightmare.

The other option, "not valid in California" is possible but not practical, since retailers will not want to disenfranchise 33 million consumers.

ADventurous said: [Q]tcarebates said: [Q]I think the law will have a nationwide effect. Here's why:

Almost 75% of technology companies are headquartered in California, so all of them are subject directly to the law.

The law pertains to anyone who offers a rebate to a California resident, and that affects the remainder of companies (even though California would have a tougher time enforcing it's law on companies outside of its jurisdiction).

No matter, since everyone will have to comply with the California law where it pertains to California residents, they will not be able to differentiate them from residents of other states and so they will be forced to apply the terms of the law to everyone.

Not sure about the last part. What is to stop companies from telling the fulfillment house to pay California residents rebates first. Then delaying funding to pay other states' residents rebates.

The other option for companies is simple, just add "Offer not valid in California" to the rebate forms



Not being valid in California would be suicide for the company since California probably buys 50% of the items. Remember California is like the 5th largest economy in the World.

LOL, YOU ARE SCREW FRANK........

does the law forbid the company change the rebate terms after they advertise their rebates? I got one problem with RadioShack. When I purchased the rebate items, they didn't list one per household term but later on they added it. I was completely unaware of that change. The company put the consumers in a very vulnerable situation. Usually they add the term like they can change offer or cancel it anytime. Does that mean we have to suffer the loss? Like many stores won't accept returns after 14 days. For the company, they can just stop the rebate or change the terms after 14 days. What can a consumer do?

tcarebates said: [Q]California is finally providing firm direction on how rebates must be managed, at least in California.

The legislation is CA Senate #1154.
Among other things, it provides that the postmark deadline must be at least 30 days from date of purchase.
Also, it specifies that rebate checks must be issued within 60 days of approval of rebate submission (kind of vague, but it's something).
The new law also limits somewhat the personal information that can be requested on a rebate form.
The law goes into effect 7/1/05.

california rebate law

Note the law does not take effect until July 1, 2005. Reasonable time for compliance, I suppose.

I strongly agree with asudog about needing a clause for changing rebate terms.

The nice thing is they must pay california residents within 60 days of rebate receipt.

Other states will have to wait until their deadline which may be more than 60 days if printed on the rebate.
Federal Law
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/rebatealrt.htm

ADventurous said: [Q]

Not sure about the last part. What is to stop companies from telling the fulfillment house to pay California residents rebates first. Then delaying funding to pay other states' residents rebates.


i love california <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif" border=0>

tcarebates said: [Q]Also, it specifies that rebate checks must be issued within 60 days of approval of rebate submission (kind of vague, but it's something).

Frank, i don't want to put ideas in your head but what stops rebate houses from not 'receiving' or 'approving' rebates for 6 months ? rebateshq/maxmyrebates is already doing it.. it takes atleast 3-4 weeks for them to 'receive' the rebates.. USPS may be slow but not this slow..
expressgroup has another nice once.. I have a comcastoffers rebate sitting there for last 7 months in 'review' stage.. they haven't come around to approve it..
however much I hate to say it, scums (not you Frank) do find out a way not to pay or delay the rebates..

Just do what I do when a rebate is significantly late. Email the company saying it is not acceptable. Tell them you are complaining to the FTC and the BBB. Then file the complaints. Everytime, magically my stuck rebates get mailed.

cyfan said: [Q]Just do what I do when a rebate is significantly late. Email the company saying it is not acceptable. Tell them you are complaining to the FTC and the BBB. Then file the complaints. Everytime, magically my stuck rebates get mailed.

Thanks a ton for the Tips...!!!

tcarebates said: [Q]True, a vendor could ask the rebate company to pay California consumers first. That is not easily done, and the logistics would be a nightmare.

The other option, "not valid in California" is possible but not practical, since retailers will not want to disenfranchise 33 million consumers.

I don't understand why it would be hard to separate out california rebates. All of the information is in your database and just needs to be reported twice, once for CA and once for non-CA. It'd be more work for sure but not hard.


One challenge would be invoicing. In order to pay California rebates on a separate schedule, the rebate processor would have to generate separate invoices for California submissions. This means there would be twice as many invoices for the vendor to process.

Invoice processing is time-consuming. Charges must be validated, funds allocated, payment issued, etc.

They will address the california resident issues stated above by having two rebate forms with two offer #'s. One form will be valid for California residents only, the other will be void for california residents. That way, they are sorted by offer # and California rebates will be afforded greater turn around time.

As for the changing of rebate terms, I am going to recommend to my state legislators this bill with additional comments;

It should prohibit the changing of rebate terms after a purchase has been made. I have seen it here numerous times that Circuit City has done this when they made mistakes and they only honor the purchases made on the first day even though it took them 2 days to correct the rebate form online. It probably didn't make it into this bill because that activity is already illegal under deceptive business practices acts across many states.

Also, I would like to see rebate offers have unique offer #'s associated with them, and these unique offer #'s printed on the check mailed to me. I have seen Parago confuse me a number of times (I have had over 200 rebates through them) where I receive a check and think it is for one rebate when it was really for another. Then I am calling them to complain about not getting the check, but they think I already cashed it becaused I referenced the wrong rebate offer. The key word here is UNIQUE.

gatzdon said: [Q]Also, I would like to see rebate offers have unique offer #'s associated with them, and these unique offer #'s printed on the check mailed to me. I have seen Parago confuse me a number of times (I have had over 200 rebates through them) where I receive a check and think it is for one rebate when it was really for another. Then I am calling them to complain about not getting the check, but they think I already cashed it becaused I referenced the wrong rebate offer. The key word here is UNIQUE.


Whether it's trackmyrebates dot com, maxmyrebates, rebateshq, rebatetrack, whatever, after a check is mailed they always put its check number in the rebate information for each entry online alongside with saying the rebate is in fulfillment.

So let's say you've done two rebates for the Targus cd holder at officeax over the course of 6 weeks, each having been different promotions, both for $4.99. If you get a rebate check for $4.99 you might have an idea what item its for given the amount, but not which specific one of the two rebates is paid out, right?

Well, all you have to do is cross-reference the check number on the rebate check you physically received with the check number for the rebate tracking entries online, and you'll know which rebate entry its for.

So, the rebate amount serves to narrow down which rebate item it could be (cause obviously you aren't going to think an $8 check goes with an item that had a $3.99 rebate) and then a check number cross-reference conclusively pinpoints which rebate its a check for.

Thanks OP for good and informative post.

Don't jump the gun just yet. It looks like the Terminator hasn't signed it into law just yet. I hear he has over a thousand bills to sign--looks like they have enough votes for a veto though.

I hate rebates! The 'rules', the details, the forms, the DELAY.

So it is about time for this kind of regulation. I just stopped shopping rebates at stores that are slow or make it difficult. That pretty much left only Staples as a store where I even consider buying something with a rebate.

Not a big fan of CA for many reasons, but this makes some sense.

Hate this law. Why does government care about this stuff? Come on. The system works. People don't get their rebates, they get *VERY* cranky - especially when they are big $$$. This is ridiculous.

Cpaladin said: [Q]gatzdon said: [Q]Also, I would like to see rebate offers have unique offer #'s associated with them, and these unique offer #'s printed on the check mailed to me. I have seen Parago confuse me a number of times (I have had over 200 rebates through them) where I receive a check and think it is for one rebate when it was really for another. Then I am calling them to complain about not getting the check, but they think I already cashed it becaused I referenced the wrong rebate offer. The key word here is UNIQUE.


Whether it's trackmyrebates dot com, maxmyrebates, rebateshq, rebatetrack, whatever, after a check is mailed they always put its check number in the rebate information for each entry online alongside with saying the rebate is in fulfillment.

So let's say you've done two rebates for the Targus cd holder at officeax over the course of 6 weeks, each having been different promotions, both for $4.99. If you get a rebate check for $4.99 you might have an idea what item its for given the amount, but not which specific one of the two rebates is paid out, right?

Well, all you have to do is cross-reference the check number on the rebate check you physically received with the check number for the rebate tracking entries online, and you'll know which rebate entry its for.

So, the rebate amount serves to narrow down which rebate item it could be (cause obviously you aren't going to think an $8 check goes with an item that had a $3.99 rebate) and then a check number cross-reference conclusively pinpoints which rebate its a check for.

I know where you are coming from and that works most times, but my problem is when the description and amount on the website is the same for mulitiple offers (i.e "Get up to $30 Rebate on Select KHypermedia Products (See Qualifying Products and Reward Amount below)" but there is no additional detail. That is very frustrating. It's only come up once, but why should I have to be a detective to figure which rebates got paid and which ones didn't when all they have to do is print a the offer/promotion # on the rebate check. Besides, what about people that don't have internet access?

Well, the difference between us is one of method, as I do not simply cross reference the check number on the physical check I receive with the check number for a given listing online and stop there to determine what is or isn't paid. Trying to use the online tracking at maxmyrebates/rebatetrack to determine anything other than if a rebate has been approved, check mailed, or check number is futile, since the rebate tracking results aren't in any sequential order from oldest to newest like rebateshq does.

I use rebate! rebate! to keep track of all my submissions, including item name, amount of rebate, when it was mailed, and the promotion number. When I see that a submission has been received and approved I put "APPROVED - " to the left of the name field, and later when I receive that rebate I use the program to indicate it was paid, and then it goes into the paid column/category and its no longer in the pending category. Once I get paid its out of sight and of mind.

So let's say on 6/1 I purchase a 24 count targus cd holder with a $4.99 rebate and I mail the submission on 6/2.

One month later, on 7/1, I purchase the same item with the same rebate amount under a different promotion and I mail the rebate on 7/2.

Now, a month down the line, whatever it is, I check online and both my $4.99 rebates are valid. One says received 7/5 and one says received 8/5. I'm going to reasonably assume that the one with the earlier received date of the two, 7/5, corresponds to the one I mailed first of the two on june 2nd, and the one with the 8/5 received date, being a month later than the other one, corresponds to the second rebate I mailed a month after the first one, on july 2nd.

At which point, when the one marked received 7/5 changes to fulfillment stage, it shows the check number. When I receive the check with the same check number, I then flag my june submission as paid, and its gone from the pending rebates. A month after that, when I get the next $4.99 check, well, I know which one of the two it goes with since the other one was paid a month prior, there's only one left.

Even before I used rebate! rebate!, I used to keep my rebates in different folders. Pending, Approved, Mailed, and Received, it achieved the same thing. Between the differing purchase dates which would also serve an indicator of when the submission was mailed, the check number, the check number being online for every entry, and the amount of the check, I can determine quite easily what check goes with what purchase.

If one is trying to use the rebate tracking online to determine which ones they are or aren't still owed for, that won't work. Even if they did print the promotion number on the check and online, you'd still have to do some cross reference work. The bottom line is, if you're anything more than a casual rebater, detective work is part of the equation, period <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif" border=0>

Btw, it WOULD be nice if the darn rebate tracking results would be displayed in some kind of order, from oldest to newest or vice versa. They do at rebateshq.com, that's Parago, so why they don't at maxmyrebates or rebatetrack is beyond me. That might help you in your regard as well....

anbudmor said: [Q]Don't jump the gun just yet. It looks like the Terminator hasn't signed it into law just yet. I hear he has over a thousand bills to sign--looks like they have enough votes for a veto though.

Also a lot of places have cut back on rebates because of all the complaints and other reasons.
This may make a lot of places just cut back more. A lot of the best rebates are from rebate oriented firms like Khyper , Maddog, etc. If the rules get too stringent for them ---- they might not make enough to justify the FAR and drastic discount rebates.

I mean I HATED those 14 day and even 7 day postmark deadlines but who knows. You know they depend on some percentage of people not making it in on time , forgetting to send them in or taking a long enough time probably to make a bit on the float. Who knows where the line is for them to make enough to be worth it or not. Look at Cendyne - they didnt even breakeven and now the Bestdata free modem deals every week and other stuff are gone as are most of the Khyper free CDRs every week which seemed to force others CompUSA etc to compete but now they both kind of quit those FAR and super discounts every week.





The law was finally passed, so this is a great start. I hope other states adopt similar laws or better yet a federal standard.

One disappointment was that the original bill wanted any Retailer rebates to be redeemed instantly, as opposed to mfr mail in rebates. Why can't a retailer give you a discount instead of rebate hoops. For example, Sears offers a rebate on dishwasher installation for Sears selected installers. Why not just reduce my bill? This was one of those postmark in 7 days deals too, so at least the California bill will give you 30 days to submit.

Where did you identify that Arnold signed the bill?

Seamless said: [Q]Where did you identify that Arnold signed the bill?
Here

BullishDad said: [Q]Seamless said: [Q]Where did you identify that Arnold signed the bill?
Here

Thanks Bullish!

My major complaints are not the number of days in getting the rebate but rather

- Who is responsible
- Manufacturer, Rebate house or Store?

Even with this law, they can delay and just keep you pointing to each other. Who will you complain to?

- I filed a few complaints with CA, AG last year about Soyo rebate, I got letter that they do not look into individual complaints.

I would say this law seems useless to me... The most useful law would be something like

- The store advertising the rebate has to pay for it if not paid within said period, as it was in the terms of sale

AND

- It is illegal to advertise price after rebate, so any advertised price is supposed to be the counter price.

Just found out that Arnold actually vetoed this law on sept 30, 2004. Text

Yep, unfortunately this time good did not prevail.

Text

Join me in telling Arnold that such legislation is important - http://www.govmail.ca.gov. You don't have to be a California resident.

shank said: [Q]Join me in telling Arnold that such legislation is important - http://www.govmail.ca.gov. You don't have to be a California resident.

I just found this and sent an email. Thanks.

If all of the fatwallet members would submit an email, it would definately change things.

thank you OP! my OMax rebate was recently invalidated due to postmarking it 1 day after the "14 day postmark date." I was initially fooled because it said requests must be filed within 14 days of purchase and by 1/7/05 at the latest. based on my purchase date, the 1/7/05 date was "information that does not belong" because for all purposes i needed to postmark by 12/30. i didnt mail it until 12/31.

but arnold vetoes the law so I am SOL.

going to return this item. what a waste of copies, stamps, filling out forms with lengthy department numbers and ridiculously long offer titles.

sometimes I feel legislators are idiots.

why not just start with a "minimum of 30 days to file" law and that's it. That at least gives the consumer a long enough window to file in time. A rebate check being delayed is a separate fight. must postmark after 7 days of purchase is ridiculous!

Why go big, try to destroy companies and end up NOT getting ANY bill passed?

no progress, just everyone's waste of time

harish said: [Q]Just found out that Arnold actually vetoed this law on sept 30, 2004. Text
"Consida it TERMINATED!"<img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif" border=0>

Skipping 4 Messages...
I've done that a couple of times, realizing on Saturday night that they were due, but sent them out on Monday (no mail Sunday) and they did honor them, but those are for smaller amounts of money and often GCs to bring you back into their store.



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