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Policy and Research Related to Consumer Rebates: A Comprehensive Review


The authors present the first comprehensive, multidisciplinary review of consumer rebates that includes federal regulations, state laws, and academic research. They discuss four topics that have been the foci of consumer concerns and policy reform: rebate advertising, rebate redemption disclosures, rebate redemption processes, and rebate payment processes. With respect to each of these four topics, the authors identify federal guidelines for rebates by reviewing the 18 Federal Trade Commision rebate-related complaints and the 18 associated consent decrees. Furthermore, they discuss 15 rebate laws from 11 U.S. states, 7 of which were enacted since 2007. In addition, they review academic research related to rebates from diverse literatures including marketing, consumer behavior, psychology, and economics and identify research gaps. This information should help policy makers evaluate rebate policies to assess whether the policies are evidence based, and it should help academics identify unanswered research questions that are important to policy makers.

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