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The Providence Journal reports on a new rebate law in Rhode Island that says “that a retailer advertising a manufacturer's rebate on any sale item must apply the rebate amount at the time of the sale and complete the rebate redemption process themselves, rather than requiring the consumer to do it.”

What this means on a day-to-day basis is that shoppers have gone to supermarkets and other retailers throughout the state that have advertised manufacturer rebates that resulted in products being for free, bought the relevant products and then expected to pay nothing for the items. The new law also means that there has been a run on these same products, with shoppers buying up soft drinks and toothpaste, for example, that have offered such rebates…with rain checks given out when stock ran out.

Retailers and manufacturers now reportedly are changing the wording of their ads so that the word” free” is not used, thus eliminating the problem for the immediate future.
KC's View:
It amazes us that the Rhode Island legislature has so much time on its hands that it is able to consider and vote on legislation like this.

Rebates are fine, and if they result in products being for free, that’s fine, too. But the idea that retailers should have to give away the products and then apply for the rebates seems a little silly.

As consumers, we sometimes will buy a product knowing that we can send in a proof of purchase and get money back…but to be honest, we rarely do it. We just forget, which we know makes us an advertiser’s dream customer. But that’s our fault, not the advertiser’s and not the store’s…and we don’t think government intervention is required to protect us from ourselves.