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By Consumers Union on Monday, August 23rd, 2004

This bill was vetoed by the Governor on September 30, 2004

A bill in the California legislature, SB 1154, would help consumers collect rebates on purchases of goods and services. This bill would restrict the type of paperwork consumers can be required to submit to qualify for a rebate, and would require companies to send rebates to consumers within 30 to 60 days of the time the company receives the rebate request.

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The text of the bill as of August 19, 2004, follows:

SB 1154 Senate Bill – AMENDEDBILL NUMBER: SB 1154 AMENDED
BILL TEXT

AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY AUGUST 19, 2004
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY JUNE 24, 2004
AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY JUNE 16, 2004
AMENDED IN SENATE APRIL 12, 2004

INTRODUCED BY Senator Figueroa

JANUARY 27, 2004

An act to add Chapter 23.5 (commencing with Section 22730) to
Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code, relating to consumer
rebates.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

SB 1154, as amended, Figueroa. Consumer rebates.
Existing law regulates various business activities and practices.

This bill would impose certain requirements on companies and
retailers that offer consumer rebates, including that a company allow
a minimum of 30 days for a consumer to submit a rebate request. The
bill would require a company to mail a rebate check within a
specified time period. The bill would specify the information that
may be required from a consumer by a company that offers a rebate.
The bill would exempt from its provisions rebates offered by a gas or
electric corporation or a local publicly owned electric utility
through its energy efficiency program. The bill’s provisions would
become operative on July 1, 2005.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no.
State-mandated local program: no.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. Chapter 23.5 (commencing with Section 22730) is added
to Division 8 of the Business and Professions Code, to read:

CHAPTER 23.5. CONSUMER REBATES

22730. As used in this chapter, “consumer rebate” shall mean
an offer to provide cash, credit, or credit towards future
purchases, that is offered to consumers who acquire or purchase
products or services a specified product or
service and that is contingent upon the purchase or
acquisition. “Consumer rebate” is conditioned upon the
customer submitting a request for redemption after satisfying the
terms and conditions of the offer. The term shall not include
any discount from the purchase price that is taken at the time of
purchase , any discount, cash, credit, or credit towards a
future purchase that is automatically provided to a consumer without
the need to submit a request for redemption, or any refund that
may be given to a consumer in accordance with a company’s return
, guarantee, adjustment, or warranty policies , or
any company’s frequent shopper customer reward program .
22731. As used in this chapter, “company” shall mean the
company or entity that is funding the consumer rebate.
22732. (a) A company shall not require a consumer to
provide more than the following as proof of purchase for purposes of
redeeming a consumer rebate:
(1) A receipt for the purchase of the product or services.
(2) A universal product code , packing slip, or
packaging element that is clearly and conspicuously marked as the
necessary proof of purchase for the rebate offer.
(3) The name of the consumer.
(4) The address of the consumer.
(5) The consumer’s telephone number.
(6) The consumer’s membership number, if applicable.
(7) The consumer’s signature.
(8) In the event that the eligibility for the consumer rebate is
triggered by an electronic transaction, a valid proof of the
electronic transaction.
(b) For purposes of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a), a copy of
the receipt shall be sufficient unless the consumer is provided with
a duplicate original receipt for each product associated with a
rebate, in which case the duplicate original may be required.

22732.
(c) If the consumer rebate offer is contingent upon ownership of
another product or service, a company may, in addition to the
information permitted to be requested under subdivision (a), request
reasonable proof of ownership of such other product or service.
(d) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a company has the right to
reject a consumer rebate claim or to request reasonable additional
documentation to verify a claim if it has reason to believe that the
individual consumer submitting the rebate request is attempting to
commit fraud, has already received the offered rebate, or that the
proof of purchase is not from a legitimate company product or
service.
22733. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), a
consumer rebate offer shall conspicuously disclose a telephone
number on the rebate form that a consumer may call to check the
status of his or her rebate request.
(b) For purchases of a company’s product that occur over a Web
site operated or maintained by that company, a Web site or other
electronic means may be provided instead of the telephone number to
check the status of his or her consumer rebate.
22733.
22734. A company may require the consumer to write the
model number or other identifying number on the consumer
rebate form only if the receipt does not reveal the product name,
type, model, or other identifying number.
22734.
22735. A company that offers a consumer rebate
shall allow a minimum of 30 days from the date the consumer purchases
the product, or becomes eligible for the rebate pursuant to
subdivision (b) of Section 22735 22736
, for the consumer to submit the rebate request.
22735.
22736. A company shall mail the rebate check or transmit
the rebate funds to the consumer or fulfill the terms of the rebate
offer within the same number of days provided to the consumer to
submit the rebate request pursuant to Section 22734
22735 , but in no event later than 60 days from
either of the following events as applicable:
(a) Upon receipt of a consumer rebate request meeting
the terms and conditions of the rebate offer, to the extent permitted
by this chapter and as disclosed at the time of purchase.
(b) If the consumer rebate offer is conditioned upon a
consumer staying with a service contract for a
minimum length of time, then upon completion of this term of the
rebate offer and receipt of a rebate request meeting the terms and
conditions for the rebate to the extent permitted by this chapter and
as disclosed at the time of purchase.
22736.
22737. (a) A company offering a consumer rebate
shall not require personal information other than the consumer’s
name, address, telephone number, membership number if applicable, and
signature.
(b) A company may require, instead of a telephone number, a
consumer’s e-mail address with respect to products purchased over the
Internet, Internet-based services, or Internet rebate redemptions.

22737.
22738. (a) A company offering a consumer rebate
shall provide the rebate redemption form directly with the product,
or at the same location and at the same time that the consumer
purchases the product.
(b) If a retailer sells a product on which a company
offers a rebate, the company shall supply A company
that does not provide rebate forms directly with its product may
comply with this section by supplying the retailer with either
of the following:
(1) A sufficient quantity of rebate redemption forms based on
reasonably anticipated sales.
(2) The means to create a rebate redemption form at the time and
place of sale.
(c) For purposes of Internet sales, a generally accessible company
Web page, including a rebate form thereon, shall comply with this
section. For purposes of telephone sales, directing consumers to a
generally accessible company Web page, including the rebate form,
and, upon request, sending the rebate form via the consumer’s choice
of regular or electronic mail or telecopy shall comply with this
section.
22738.
22739. The provisions of this chapter do not apply to
either of the following:
(a) Rebates and rebate programs that are offered by gas or
electric corporations through their energy efficiency
programs under the jurisdiction of the Public Utilities
Commission.
(b) Rebates and rebate programs that are offered by local publicly
owned electric utilities, as defined in Section 9604 of the Public
Utilities Code, through their energy efficiency
programs funded pursuant to Section 385 of the Public Utilities Code.

22739.
22740. This chapter shall become operative on July 1, 2005.
Nothing in this chapter shall impose on any manufacturer any
obligation to recall any product or service offering consumer rebates
shipped made available to retail sales
outlets or consumers prior to the operative date of this chapter.
Any rebate offer in effect prior to operative date of this chapter
shall be deemed to be in compliance with this chapter.

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