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Legislation Would Make N.J. 3rd State to Require Stores To Charge Advertised After-Rebate Prices

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblymen John Burzichelli, Paul Moriarty, Vincent Prieto and John Wisniewski sponsored to 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 – has been released the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.

“Customers should not be deceptively lured into stores by low prices that only exist after they take the product home, cut apart the packaging, fill out aggravating paperwork, and then wait weeks or months for a check,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “Retailers who want to advertise a ‘post-rebate’ price as the actual cost to the consumer should be the ones who have to jump through hoops to claim a money-back offer.”

Quite simply, the price shown in the newspaper should be the price the consumer pays at the cash register,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “Filling out rebate forms can be confusing, complicated, and drawn-out. Consumers should not have to navigate a sea of fine print and corporate red tape when they could have been charged an honest price to begin with.”

“This bill would not prevent manufacturers from offering rebates to New Jersey consumers, but would only prohibit stores from deceptively passing off a net price to unwitting customers,” said Prieto (D-Hudson). “It’s a consumer protection measure that makes common sense.”

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

Under the legislation (A-1692), 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. New Jersey would become the third state to enforce such a consumer protection if the bill were to become law, following Rhode Island and Connecticut.

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 measure was released on Thursday and now heads to the Assembly Speaker, who decides if and when to post it for a floor vote.

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