Cash back offers, gifts and prizes

  • Businesses sometimes offer cash back promotions, prizes or gifts.
  • These offers are usually time limited and special conditions usually need to be met.
  • Certain rules must be followed when gifts or prizes are offered

What the ACCC does

  • We accept reports from people about possible issues under consumer law with cash back offers, gifts and prizes.
  • We investigate repeated and ongoing consumer problems.
  • We provide general guidance to businesses and consumers on how consumer law operates.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We don’t resolve individual disputes between consumers and business.
  • We don’t provide legal advice.
  • We don’t investigate individual complaints.

Cash back offer rules

About cash back offers

Cash back offers, also known as rebates, are a form of discounting. Instead of marking down product prices, the manufacturer or retailer offers to return some of the consumer’s money after purchase.

Cash back offers are usually made in advertisements or in-store promotions.

Conditions and limitations should be clear

Any conditions or limitations should be made clear to the consumer before the purchase. It’s against the law for a business to mislead or deceive consumers.

Consumers should read the terms and conditions

Consumers should read the terms and conditions of the offer carefully before deciding to buy the product.

Consumers should check:

  • the expiry date of the offer
  • waiting times for receiving the offer
  • all the steps needed to get the offer.

Consumers should complete the cash back offer carefully

Consumers should:

  • make sure to complete the application carefully to meet all conditions of the offer. For example, the product serial numbers, bar code and a copy of the receipt may need to be included
  • keep copies of all documents as evidence in case something goes wrong.

Download the ACCC Shopper app to store receipts as photos on a mobile phone.

Example of consumers being misled

Certain cans of deodorant have a shrink-wrap packaging carrying the words ‘$3 Cash Back’.

The offer is limited to one can per customer. The offer expired a week earlier, but this information can only be seen in the fine print after the packaging is opened.

The packaging is misleading because the bold representation of the cash back offer was made without clear mention of the limitations.

Gifts and prizes rules

It's illegal for a business to offer a gift, prize or other free item to promote the sale of goods, services or land if:

  • the business has no intention of providing it
  • the business fails to provide it as offered
  • it isn't provided within the time specified, or
  • if no time is specified, within a reasonable time.

A business won't be breaking the law if the failure was due to something beyond its control.

The business and consumer can also agree to a replacement gift or prize.

It's illegal for a business to:

  • offer a free gift without telling consumers that they must pay for the delivery of the gift
  • tell consumers that if they buy certain goods they will win a prize when all they actually receive is the chance of winning the prize.

See also

False or misleading claims