Last updated: February 28. 2014 12:21AM - 308 Views

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DAYTON — Some shoppers may be enticed by rebates offered by manufacturers on items they’re considering purchasing. A rebate is an amount paid by way of reduction, return or refund on what has already been paid or contributed. It’s a sales promotion which uses incentives or supplements to help sell an item.

However, Consumer Reports says about four out 10 people never collect their rebates, which is a reason retailers like them so much. Your Better Business Bureau says if you’re not careful you could be paying full price.

Your Better Business Bureau offers rebate advice:

- Make sure you get the rebate form from the store or download and print one if shopping online.

- Read instructions carefully. Some rebates require many steps to follow. The guidelines for redeeming a rebate can be extensive and missing steps may delay the process or result in loss of the rebate. Follow the instructions and read the fine print.

- Redeem rebates immediately. Some rebates must be redeemed within a certain time period following the purchase. To avoid misplacing the necessary receipts or packing, send rebates shortly after purchases are made.

- Keep the packaging. Rebates often require UPC bar codes or other identifiers found on the packaging to be included with the paperwork. Don’t throw away your boxes or tear through the bar codes when opening the items.

- Keep a copy of paperwork mailed to the retailer or manufacturer for the rebate. It’s the only record you’ll have of the transaction. If you filed your rebate electronically, keep a copy of the completed electronic submission.

- Know who to contact if the rebate doesn’t arrive. Some retailers and manufacturers use third-party fulfillment companies for processing rebates so keep in mind you might be dealing with a different business when it comes to tracking down your rebate.

- Consider sending rebate materials by certified mail, so you’ll have proof of delivery.

Remember, companies are required to send rebates within the time promised, or if no time is specified, within a “reasonable” time, which is interpreted as 30 days. However, some rebates can be redeemed immediately at the checkout counter. But, most have to be submitted after you make your purchase.

The documentation required generally includes the original sales receipt, UPC code, rebate slip and the customer’s name, address and telephone number.

If the rebate never arrives, contact the company. If it arrives late or you’re unhappy with the process, you can file a complaint with your BBB by calling 937-222-5825 or 800-776-5301 or visiting www.bbb.org. You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission or Attorney General’s office.

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