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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Read the fine print with appliance rebates

Samantha Mazzotta King Features Syndicate

Q: I’m a little confused. I purchased an appliance at a nearby home-improvement store, specifically because a mail-in rebate was offered. So I mailed in the rebate form and six weeks later, instead of a rebate check, I got a letter saying I didn’t qualify for a rebate! How can I get that rebate money? Is the store where I bought the appliance responsible for paying it? — Gregory J., via e-mail

A: Mail-in rebates are a good incentive when purchasing expensive items like appliances, but it’s important to read the fine print to make sure you really qualify for them. Sometimes that’s tough to do in the store — buyers are often in a hurry, we sometimes forget our glasses (I always do) or the kids are tugging on our shirttails. So as soon as you get home, it’s very important to review the purchase, read the rebate form thoroughly and check the receipt.

If the rebate requirements don’t seem to match the item you bought, or you have questions, call the number listed on the rebate form. A toll-free number directly to the company responsible for issuing the rebate (usually the manufacturer) will yield the fastest answers. You’ll be able to make sure you qualify for the rebate, and if you don’t, you can return the item to the store right away and get your money back (or exchange it for the item that does qualify).

Because you’ve already applied for a rebate and were turned down, your next step is to contact the company that issues the rebate. You can call the number listed on the rebate form (if you no longer have a copy, ask the store for one or download a copy from the store or the issuer’s Web site) and get an explanation.

Unfortunately, you’re probably out of luck on getting any money back. Six weeks down the line, it will likely be difficult to return the item you purchased to the store (you can certainly check). And the rebate issuer will hold fast to its decision. You do have the right to complain, and you should lodge a complaint with both the store and the rebate issuer.

Most retail stores want to keep their customers happy and will try to find some way to resolve the problem. And if they can’t resolve it, they may offer you some other in-store incentives on future purchases.

Home Tip: Before mailing a rebate claim, read the fine print to make sure you’ve included everything that needs to go with the form. And make copies of everything, including the receipt, proof of purchase and the claim form.

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