5 On Your Side

Proposed Law Would Crack Down on Rebate Red Tape, Delays

Posted March 22, 2007 6:51 p.m. EDT

— Long waits, unreasonable terms and ridiculous red tape are some of the complaints heard from customers trying to claim rebates on products they bought.

Now, a North Carolina state senator is trying to do something about it.

Sen. Richard Stevens, R-Wake, saw a 5 On Your Side story about Carrie Whiteside, who had to wait more than a year to get $500 in rebates she was owed for two phones she ordered online.

“We need to fix the way we do rebates in North Carolina," Stevens said Thursday, and he has introduced Senate Bill 1055. It would require all rebate terms to be clearly printed on the form and would require companies to send the rebate to consumers within 30 days.

“At first, I thought the reason that they do this is they're hoping that you forget about it,” Whiteside said. “I immediately went on to my computer and put it in my calendar six months out to the exact date.”

Then, almost a year after she filed, the rebate company denied her claims. Whiteside called us for help and to get out the word about rebates.

“I still hope that somehow there can be some kind of resolution,” Whiteside said, “and these people could be put in their place for what they've done, because I know I'm not the only one.”

Stevens said he's heard from plenty of constituents who had experiences similar to Whiteside's, “It's just frustrating and confusing for the consumer,” Stevens said. “It's not fair and it's not right!"

Stevens said that after hearing the constant complaints and seeing Whiteside’s story, he knew he had to do something.

"You know you can move money around the world in seconds right now,” Stevens said. “It shouldn't take six months to get a $25 rebate from a purchase you made."

One rebate company tells us that's not a problem for reputable rebate firms, as long as manufacturers provide the money.

The bill is now in committee. Stevens says it has strong bi-partisan support, and he hopes it will be heard within the next couple of weeks.