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SLIM CHANCE OF GETTING REBATE CASH

Q: My problem involves a rebate complaint against K&E International of Lake Worth, Fla. As a result of listening to a home sales pitch for replacement windows by a company from Rochester, I received a K&E questionnaire from the window company stating that I would get reimbursed for up to eight movie tickets dated the same day, Sunday through Thursday, with a maximum value of $72 - if I sent them the completed questionnaire, the ticket stubs and a copy of my driver's license by Aug. 22, 2003. I attended a movie with some friends (six people in all) on July 24, 2003, incurring an expense of $61.75, which I paid by credit card. I made copies of the stubs, the credit card receipt and the questionnaire before mailing the materials on July 29, 2003 to K&E.

I did not send the materials by registered mail, but we did have a clearly-marked return address on the envelope. The materials were neither returned, nor did the post office - when asked to trace them - indicate they had been lost or undelivered. But when I received no rebate after three months, I contacted K&E and eventually talked to a supervisor who stated they had no record of receiving my materials.

In spite of the fact that I was willing to send my copies and an original credit card statement that would substantiate my claim, I was told the rebate would not be honored. The company should accept my word that I did send the materials and that they must have lost or mishandled them somehow. It would not make sense that I was careful enough to make the copies of my ticket stubs, my questionnaire and my credit card statement - but was so careless as to have not sent the originals on time. I feel K&E should accept the mistake as theirs, and in the face of all of our proof that we complied with every part of the rebate procedure, honor their rebate with a check to us for $61.75.

- Daniel Schroeder, Depew.

A: Unfortunately, you may be out of luck - even though it wasn't your fault that somehow K&E never got your initial mailing. K&E insists that it never received your mailing with all of the necessary original paperwork and rebate voucher. Mark Elie, K&E's owner, is a stickler about sticking to the terms and conditions of the rebate offer. "We never got the original (from him) at all," Elie told us.

Elie points out that on the rebate certificate, the company notes that reproductions or copies of the certificate are prohibited. "We don't accept photocopies. He was told that we have no record of him in the system," Elie said. "He must send originals. We keep everything for three years and have no record of anything at all."

Elie said he doesn't doubt that you followed the conditions at the outset, but the bottom line seems to be the photocopy issue. "He probably did it right, but we didn't get it," Elie said. "It's very clear what we need and I'm fair. But I have to have originals."

Elie said the company has been selling promotional vouchers across the country to hundreds of thousands of companies for years. "We're not some fly-by-night company," he said.

However, there is a chance that this could still work out. The hitch is that you need to go back to the original company through which the movie rebate voucher was offered and get another original certificate.

Elie recommended that you go back to the home improvement company from which you initially received the voucher. "He's not going to get a check unless he goes out and starts all over again and gets another rebate form from the company," Elie said. "We won't just send him one to use. We're no different than Sears with a rebate or a rebate on a cell phone. He has to follow exactly what happens to be on there. It's not that difficult."

Have a consumer problem? Send a letter summarizing your problem to News Power, The Buffalo News, One News Plaza, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14203. Attention: Karen Robinson, or e-mail newspower@buffnews.com or fax a question to 648-3012. To be considered for publication, readers must fully identify themselves by name and the town where they live. Clearly explain your problem, and be sure to include a telephone number. Not all questions can be addressed.