Monday, April 14 2014 8:19 PM EDT2014-04-15 00:19:35 GMT
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Tuesday, April 15 2014 10:51 PM EDT2014-04-16 02:51:11 GMT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Joyce Houser loves her RV camper.
"We take it to the beach, we take it to the mountains," said Houser.
She and her husband bought it in 2006 from the RV Superstore of Mocksville. The Housers could have found one close to their home in Newton, but the deal clincher was a big rebate offer.
"$4,000 is a lot of money," said Houser.
The rebate would knock 25% off the total price. However, the rebate was not through the dealer, or the manufacturer. It was through a third party, Cashback America out of Florida.
"A lot of hoops you have to go through," said Houser.
The Housers went through them all, including the biggest. The one where you had to wait 54 months to even submit the paperwork to get the rebate.
"I've never seen anything like that before in rebate world," said Tom Bartholomy of the Charlotte Better Business Bureau.
He points out in most cases you have a deadline to make a claim.
"In this situation you couldn't even claim it until that time (54 months) has passed," said Bartholomy.
This type of rebate offer may have been a new one for the BBB, but it wasn't for two attorneys general. In January 2006, five months before the Housers bought their RV, the state of Pennsylvania sued Cashback America. The next year Florida did the same. The state's attorney general accused the company of misleading advertising, while in the end paying out very little and in many cases nothing at all.
The Housers fall in the no payment category. They also filed a complaint with the North Carolina Attorney Generals Office against RV Superstore of Mocksville. Owner Jeff Plemmons responded to the complaint by saying the issue was not with his company, but Cashback America.
"If that retailer enticed a consumer to come in and buy that product with that rebate in mind," said Bartholomy of the BBB. "They are going to have to bear some of the burden."
Plemmons no longer owns the dealership. He sold it just a couple months ago. WBTV made several attempts to reach him by phone and by visiting his house. We were not successful in reaching him to ask questions about whether he knew Cashback America was already under investigation when he signed on to use the rebate program.
All Joyce Houser can do is keep fighting for her $4,000.
"If I don't get my money back the world will know to be very cautious of huge rebates," said Houser.
She has filed a complaint with the Florida Attorney General's office. The case is still pending.
As for North Carolina, timing was not on Houser's side either. In October 2007, the state enacted a law prohibiting long-term, or deferred rebates. The Housers bought their RV in 2006.
The BBB urges consumers to always check out 3rd party companies before making a purchase based on the rebate offer.