FTC To Hold Rebate Debate in San Francisco on April 27, 2007

As previously discussed in this blog, advertisers' growing reliance on rebates to offer sale prices is leading state lawmakers to consider legislation governing how rebates can be advertised and handled resulting in a mish mash of legislation that is confusing to both businesses and consumers. Now the Federal Trade Commission is stepping into the foray. The FTC announced that it will be hosting a public workshop on April 27, 2007, in San Francisco, California, to discuss the issues surrounding the use of mail-in rebates by manufacturers and retailers.

The workshop is intended to be a debate involving representatives from consumer groups, industry, academia, and government to discuss the costs and benefits of rebates from all perspectives. One announced goal of the workshop is to explore "best practices" in the offering and fulfillment of rebates. Hopefully, a related goal will be to create uniform guidelines that are fair to business and consumers, and avoid what appears to be a growing hodgepodge of emerging state laws.

As FTC enforcement actions usually ensue some time after workshop-type events, advertisers that offer rebates should carefully review their programs to ensure that they comply with "best practice" standards. The FTC's Rebate Debate is open to the public. 

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