Assembly Panel Advances Measure To Change How Retailers Can Advertise Rebate Prices

Assemblyman John Wisniewski

TRENTON – Legislation that would require retailers to charge consumers an advertised after-rebate price – rather than making buyers send in coupons or log on to manufacturer’s web sites to claim their savings – was advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.

Under the legislation (A-1511), retailers that advertise a product’s “net price” – the price after a manufacturer’s rebate is applied – would be required to charge that price at the time of sale. It then would be a retailer’s responsibility to complete the rebate redemption process.

“Research show that about 40 percent of manufacturer rebates are never redeemed, costing consumers more than $2 billion annually,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), a sponsor of the bill. “This bill doesn’t prevent rebates from being offered, but simply brings more truth in advertising, which is always a good thing.”

The bill would allow retailers to advertise rebates by displaying the net price of the item of merchandise if the actual selling price of the merchandise is disclosed in the same font and size as the net price and clear and conspicuous notice is provided in the advertisement that a mail-in rebate is required to achieve the lower net price.

Violations of the measure would be punishable under the state’s consumer fraud act, with fines of up to $10,000 for a first offense. Repeat offenses could be punished by up to $20,000 in fines, as well as injunctive relief, triple damages, and restitution.

The bill was released by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.

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