OT: Discriminatory Food Rebate... (Recieved Response from EBT)

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by elastigirl, Feb 21, 2006.

  1. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    Update: See post 02/23/06 07:08 AM for the Food Stamp Program response to my complaint.
    ...There is a nationally-advertised rebate by Pediasure that disqualifies people on food stamps! I find this wholly offensive and discriminatory. [url removed as per rules]

    Here is their wording, "This rebate offer is not valid for purchases of product that are reimbursed in whole or in part by third-party payors including government programs and private insurers."

    I reported this rebate to the national food stamp program several days ago but did not get a response back yet. I have also called Pediasure's toll-free number for the rebate but got a paging system where I had to enter my phone number. No call back yet.

    If one company gets away with this, then other companies will follow suit! People on food stamps are POOR! Often HUNGRY! Doing their best -- by using coupons and rebates -- to stretch the little bit of benefits they receive! I'm very offended that Pediasure would do this.

    My food stamp benefit is actually a CASH benefit that is applied to a debit-style card. It is real $$$ -- not play money. I'm so offended by Pediasure (they did it with their Ensure rebate, too,) that I've even lost sleep over this issue!

    It is wrong for me to be offended? Am I wrong -- is this NOT discrimination against the poor? Am I being silly losing sleep? I can't get it out of my mind that a company would go THIS FAR to slam the door on the poor. Ugh!!!!!!!!
    [This Message was Edited on 02/22/2006]

    [This Message was Edited on 02/23/2006]
  2. kalley167

    kalley167 New Member

    I really think the reason it says this is because you aren't suppose to get any cash out of the debit card they give you. And maybe legally the company isn't allowed since its goverment assistance. Just a guess.
    [This Message was Edited on 02/22/2006]
  3. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    We cannot withdraw our food benefit as cash for non-food use. However, it is paid as cash to the store, and is legally termed a cash benefit in some of my literature -- unless I'm remembering wrong.

    The stores treat it as cash, allowing us to use national coupons, in-store coupons, instant rebates, etc. If there were a legal reason why a company could not do this, I think I would have heard about it by now, but maybe not.

    We don't have to use the "play money" food stamps or booklets like they did in the past. My mom was on food stamps briefly at one point -- it used to be a very humiliating experience. This Ensure/Pediasure thing is very humiliating. Maybe they have an explanation, but they did not return my call yet :(.
  4. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    (Edited to add: some interim posts were deleted. I am not aware of why or who did it, etc., but a few posts are now missing.)

    My point is lost...

    ... the store buys the product from Pediasure. Pediasure gets cash.
    ... the store gets paid cash from the food stamp program.
    ... neither of those two venues are losing a thing, though Pediasure chose to offer a rebate to those who send in the paperwork.

    However, in my heart of hearts, I do not believe that I am attempting to double-dip... If that philosophy were valid, companies could extend it to anything!

    "Why should you be able to use coupons? You get your groceries for 'free'!"

    "Why should you be able to get Buy One, Get One free food sales? You get your groceries for 'free'!" This actually happened to me when presenting a WIC phamplet -- I was denied and humiliated in a store! It was right in the WIC literature that denying WIC recipients free food with purchase offers (that are available to the general public)was against the law.

    "Why should you get SALE PRICES? You get your groceries for 'free'!"

    You see? There could be no end to the places where poor people could be denied fair and equitable offers made to the general public.

    Just think if they started in on Medicaid, Medicare and SSI benefits! ("You receive government benefits -- therefore, we deny you a rebate/benefit available to the general public based on the source of your income.")

    Is Pediasure really paying the rebate to the government? I was under the impression they were rebating directly to the consumer. Maybe you know something I don't know? If so, please let me know. I'm still very upset about this turn of events.

    Please bear in mind that we are POOR. Extremely poor. Our income is less than $6K a year. Can you imagine surviving on that? (I know some of us are.)

    We receive a small benefit for food. It's not much, but I stretch it as far as I can. I've had to give up most of our organic foods because I just couldn't stretch it that far anymore.

    I was not poor before I left my ex. I see a marked difference in the way I was treated before (not poor) -- and now (poor.) I am the same person inside.

    If I could work, I would. I would do anything to work. At this point, I'd consider selling my soul. But I know I wouldn't last a week in a work environment. Due to the DD, I just can't deal with all of that stress anymore. And I was a person who usually LOVED my job, too.

    So please keep all of this in mind if you judge me for double-dipping :(. There have been days when we ran out of staples, and I really struggled to put something on the table. The food benefit is a drop in the bucket of a normal food budget.

    I think I'm doing right by the government in trying to stretch and budget the benefit they bestow upon me, rather than trying to be an ill-motivated double-dipper. I think it's my moral obligation to use coupons, rebates and sales -- and to avoid buying junk foods with our benefits.

    Isn't it my duty to stretch that money as far as possible? I guess I'm lost in the despair of poverty. I don't know up from down anymore.[This Message was Edited on 02/22/2006]
    [This Message was Edited on 03/11/2006]
  5. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    (edited because post just prior was deleted)

    Updated: The only thing I could find associating Pediasure with the government is this from their FAQ:

    "1. Is PediaSure available through the WIC* program?
    PediaSure is WIC-available in all 50 states. Your child may qualify to receive PediaSure through the WIC program. The WIC program, which helps parents address the nutritional concerns of their children, makes PediaSure available to kids ages 1-5 who have special dietary needs. Ask your doctor or local WIC representative if your child can benefit from the nutrition in PediaSure."

    I already understood that WIC was not a cash-based program. In fact, cashiers draw a slash through and write, "Void," on WIC food receipts, so I was aware WIC food could not be used for rebtes.

    Maybe this is the government program Pediasure was referring to? Maybe they weren't referring to food stamp benefits? I'll update this post once (if) they call back.[This Message was Edited on 02/22/2006]
    [This Message was Edited on 03/11/2006]
  6. vp

    vp New Member

    I am using the same type of food "stamp" program as you are. I get a receipt, use manufacturer and store coupons, just like everyone else does.

    I even get my purchases applied to a gas savings program run by the store. For every $50 in purchases with my "government" money I accumulate .10 per gallon off gas. Thats about .30 x about 25 gallons to fill my truck, so about $7 a month I make off the "government" money. It is my responsibility as being disabled and poor to live as efficiently as I can on the assistance I get, and not to waste anything that is given to help me, and take advantage of anyway I can to keep the costs of everyday life as low as possible. That's just the way I see it, right or wrong.

    My question is... How do they know the method in which you paid for your groceries cash or credit card? And why do they care, they get the money for it regardless of where it comes from? Are you sure the disclaimer applies to food stamps? "...pruduct REIMBURsED by a third party..." could that mean only programs like WIC where you get a voucher for specific groups of products like milk and formula, etc... Just a thought, I don't know alot about programs like that, as they are usually for people with small children.

    Companies run these promotions to get people to try their product ONCE for free,(if people send in the P.O.P and reciept) with the hopes that people will come back for more, generating more profit. ONE sample would be a drop in the bucket to them, in comparison to what it means to us.

    I'll be watching this to see what you find out.

    I understand your frustration.

    About them puting that money back in to the foodstamp program.... How do they know if I buy one of their products, and give the money for the rebate to the government if I can't send in for the rebate in the first place to tell them I tried their product? I'm confused. Are you saying they support the foodstamp in general, regardless of this promotion?
  7. vp

    vp New Member

    You must have added that part the same time I was typing. That makes sense.

    Let us know what you find out.
  8. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    Sorry to report, I just got off the phone with a Ross Products CSR. She called the marketing department for the rebate, and said, yes, this rebate EXCLUDES people on food stamps.

    How can they tell if you use food stamps? I'm not sure if they can at all stores, but in Michigan, most stores print "EBT" as payment form rather than cash. So they can tell.

    However, she had no explanation for why they are doing this. In fact, when I first called her (I tried a different number,) the first thing out of her mouth in response is, "That does sound disc..." but she didn't finish her sentence.

    I do not know if what they are doing is specifically illegal, but I suspect it may be. At the very least, it seems unethical.

    She said we could lodge a complaint at:

    Pediasure Marketing
    Ross Laboratories
    625 Cleveland Ave
    Columbus, OH 43215
    [This Message was Edited on 02/22/2006]
  9. JLH

    JLH New Member

    I called a neighbor of mine who works in our local grocery store office and asked her what she thought. This is what she told me:

    "Maybe this has already been said, I can't remember, but maybe the reason you can't utilize the rebate is that it is not intended for those using food stamps to receive "cash" back from a rebate when they actually had no cash themselves involved in the transaction--so that you won't be "double dipping" -- using the government's money to purchase the product, and if you received the rebate cash back, you would be receiving money for the same product, hence, you would have been given money twice for the same product? And then, some people could actually try to return the product to the store saying that they got the wrong thing, and be reimbursed for it--then actually receiving money for it 3 times. She said people do scams like this (returning products they got free from the BOGO sales) all of the time to get more money."

    Now I don't know if what she said makes sense or not.

    Whatever the reason would be, and I certainly would like to know, too, I don't think I would lose any sleep over it. We have enough stress in our daily lives which affects how we feel, so I would try to just put this out of my mind and chalk it up to another dumb rule.

    I'm sure the company checked out every legal aspect of their campaign before they set the rules.

    I don't mean to offend you about not getting so worked up over this, but maybe re-channeling your thoughts into something else might help you feel better. It's just hard to fight city hall (the government) and their rules about food stamps, etc.

  10. elsa

    elsa New Member

    I know the feeling of frustation you get when you are told "no" about something that seems perfectly logical to you. On top of the "no" is there is rarely an explanation included with the "no" leaving your mind spinning at top speed trying to figure out the "why" of the "no".

    I think I have found some answers for you that might help keep your brain from spinning out of control,lol.

    Firstly, all states are required by law to have competitively bid infant formula rebate contracts with infant formula manufacturers.

    This means a state agency agrees to provide a brand of infant formula to it's participants and, in return, receives money back - called a rebate - from the manufacturer for each can of infant formula that is purchased by participants.

    As a result WIC pays the lowest price possible for infant formula. The brand varies from state to state depending on which company has the rebate contract in a particular state.

    This is a roundabout way of doing things .... The word "rebate" is kind of misleading .... It is not used as a rebate like the one you wanted to take advantage of ... or like a coupon.

    This "rebate" is a way for a company to cut the cost of formula drastically, not making them feel the entire finalcial pinch all at one time ... up front.

    Instead, they offer the formula at a discounted price ... formula gets shipped out ... participant purchases formula .... The grocery store sends company that particular formula's bar codes,serial number and EBT information ... Company sends the rebate out as the SECOND HALF of their discounted lowest bid. Instead of making one big balloon type "payment" the company gets to make two "payments" over a bit of time.

    Instead of the entire amt. of the promised low bid being realized as the formula gets sent to the store ... about half of the lowest bid is realized .... the remaining promised low bid is paid when the formula is actually sold in the form of a rebate. I hope that made since.

    Because of the rebate contract, the program gets back over a billion dollars each year from infant formula manufacturers. They are able to track this number by the return info sent from the grocery store, etc. to the manufacturer after the formula is sold. - This is big savings to the WIC program which allows many more women, infants and children to be served.

    About one out of every three participants are served / helped with the rebate program. Apparently the need for the rebate program became evident with the rising numbers. In 1974 - 88,000 participants .... 2002 - 7.5 million participants.

    Why weren't you allowed to take advantage of the rebate offered to all consumers? The price for your formula through WIC was already discounted to a much less price then Joe Blow paid for his formula without WIC.

    Plus, the manufacturer still owed, at time of your purchase, the second half - or rebate - of the company's lowest bid for your specific jar of formula.

    If you also used the "general consumer rebate" then the company would, in effect, be lowering the price of your specific jar of formula - for a third time. The company can't afford to do that.

    Also, the company would be paying two seperate "people" discounted rebates on the same jar of formula with only one of those people holding the financial obligation for the price of the formula.

    I'm sorry that you were not given a reasonable response when all you wanted to know was the "why's" of the rebate rules. You weren't there to make things tough ... you just wanted what we all want, which is to understand how something so day-in and day-out to your life actually works. When we understand ... the stress goes way down ... and we get on with living life.

    I hope I have helped you some with this. ... I am also sorry you have met with less then understanding responses today. I hope you aren't offended or hurt ... and maybe after reading over this ... what little I understand of it ... then maybe you won't be offended by the formula companies any more either.

    Take care,


    [This Message was Edited on 02/22/2006]
  11. mildred623

    mildred623 New Member

    I receive food stamp monies on the debit type card as well. But I agree you shouldnt receive the rebate. As someone else said food stamps are not designed to receive money back for them they are only to purchase food with. And it's a priviledge not a right that we even recieve that much help.
  12. Greeneyes2

    Greeneyes2 New Member


    I think some of the posters are thinking that you are talking about WIC, which is a completely different program than food stamps.

    I also think that you are right when you say that with your food stamps there is no way that the company or the government have any way of knowing what you purchased.

    I do think you should be allowed to get the rebate as the money would be put back into feeding and taking care of your family.

    Although I have not had to use these programs for a long time, I truly am amazed that you are able to take care of your family with such a small income. You have my sincere congratulations on being able to do this, and I do know that it is not easy.

    As far as double dipping, I do not think that applying for a rebate that the general public is getting is double dipping. If you where getting these products for free through a WIC program it MIGHT be a different story. But I understood you to say that you purchased them with your food stamps.

    Anyway, I hope you can get the answers you are looking for and find some serenity about this. Unfortunately, life isn't always fair.

    Gentle hugs,

  13. lauralea443

    lauralea443 New Member

    you should not get the rebate when you didn't pay for it in the first place. Not meant to be rude at all please don't take it that way.

    I don't believe in some of the government programs, but that's a separate issue, I think we as people should take care of each other. Charities would do a better job than the government could ever do, but this is an issue that can not be settled over this board.

    Take care
  14. kch64

    kch64 New Member

    First of all, don't ever be ashamed of using food stamps.

    There are many people who need them and have no other choice.

    If your local food stamp office can't help, try calling your local government officials and ask about it.

    If you can use coupons and such, it would make sense that you would get a rebate for the milk your children need.

    However, rebates may be handled differently than coupons. It would seem that the rebate money could be applied to the EBT card and then it would be like a rebate added to your food stamp money.

    I hope you find a satisfactory answer. Hold your head up and keep on going.

    P.S. If the rebate is an exceptionally good one, maybe you can scrape some money together just for the formula and send in the rebate.

  15. mylilcherub428

    mylilcherub428 New Member

    that the reason they will not allow this unfortunately is because there are people who take advantage of foodstamps. There are people who will buy someone groceries with their ebt and then that person would give theem cash mabe theyd spend 100 on groceries in exchange for 50 in cash. so mabe they are worried people will buy the pediasure with ebt only to get the cash rebate ...ireally dunno
  16. 1sweetie

    1sweetie New Member

    companies can offer promotions to whom ever they wish. They are probably targeting a certain population. They also do not give rebates to people with a Post Office box address. The bank I worked for(and all other banks) would give better rates to attract new people and not the customers that they had banked there for years. It's probably not fair but I'm beginning to wonder what is fair???[This Message was Edited on 02/22/2006]
  17. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    but you do not have to pay taxes on the food you "purchase". BTW some I work because I haven't any choice either.

    Thank you,

  18. 69mach1

    69mach1 New Member

    yes we do have to pay taxes on our food...meaning, a crv on soda or pop as some call it...

    i know i michigan you take your bottles back to the store and get cash for the return...here in california...we have to pay, i think it is 2.5 cents per bottle for a soda or water...

    we are supposed to take it to a recycling center...i truthfully never had or will...it is a pain in the but for me...i just put it in a recyling bucket by the curb and someone else will come by and fill up their p/u trucks and take the load in for money...it takes a lot to make it cover your gas to the center...it is stupid out here as far as i am concer...in mi it is so much more convienant and worth your while to recyle back at the stores....

    so if you paid with food stamp money you can take your cans back and get cash for them in michigan...is there something wrong with that..no i say....

    but i know in all states and you are on cash aid of any sorts you are suppoosed to report any money you get...cash , b-day money...too much infor is needed to the govt...as far as i am concern....

    why should they be allowed to get a darn rebate...

    i have been on food stamp, paper money and i had the card...so much easier with the ebt card and much less embarassing for me...i would go to another city and use my money so i didnt run into anyone i knew...

    this is not free money in my opinion...there are many heart wretching stories as to why men and women are on food stamps and tanf/and or cash aid.....

    i for one went from making 27.50 an hour plus being married and having my husbands income to live on...he left me...i went on disability...got no child support for 3 years...my state disability ran out, i sold my 69 mach 1 mustang, used up all my savings that i did have...paid for a divorce

    anyways... now we have people that are on ssi and they qualify for food stamps...these people are human beings....they are our grand parents on social security...these are our parents....mothers stayed home and raised children for no pay from anyone...our children...who have parents that are not paying child support...not the kids fault...that the parent knows how to hide and conceal money...work for tips and pays nothing to the custodial parent.....

    i do know of a neighbor next door to me who abuses the system...she knows who the biological father is...and her child gets all the state can offer her and her child...she has her section 8 voucher...he gets food stamps and cash aid money and yes med-ical....
    the father still comes over to the mother homes, gives her money to pay for things, rent food whatever...this discuss's me but what can do...the county will not do a darn thing....yes it is welfare fraud...

    well i am going to end this here....i am glad we get to give these people that are deserving food...i am glad it is on a card now...so they do not have to be so humilated to get some food....

    well thanks for reading

  19. elastigirl

    elastigirl New Member

    Thank you for all of the kind and well-thought out responses. I just wanted to make sure everyone understood that WIC and food stamps are not the same.

    WIC uses a voucher check system for specific products. From my current understanding, this is the information Pediasure uses for it's 'rebates' to the government.

    EBT is the term used for the food stamp debit card. This is a >> cash << benefit similiar to an SSI benefit. Although it is now cash, we are restricted (rightly so) to using the food portion on food. (Some receive a separate cash benefits for living expenses on the same card; this can be used for any purchase anywhere that accepts EBT cards.)

    In the information and literature presented by the food stamp program, we are to be treated in all essences as if we are paying by cash. In fact, at this point, the term 'food stamp' is a misnomer altogether. This is now a cash benefit.

    There is nothing in the food stamp program that indicates >> anyone << is tracking our purchases by EBT number. (Very scary thought!) However, because this is a possibility, I will call Pediasure back sometime to see if they are indeed getting information from the EBT system, but I don't think they are. (This is the only thing that would make sense.)

    So at this point, I am still under the impression that they are just making a sweeping denial, whereas their original intent was to just cover the WIC program and similar. Food benefit recipients just got caught in the net.

    As I mentioned earlier, the receipts for purchases made with WIC vouchers are slashed and marked void at the register. I never intended to ask for a consumer rebate through the WIC program.

    Remember, Pediasure is denying us on the >> source << of the income. It is honestly none of their business whether or not we are on food stamps, and they should not rub it in. It is an invasion of privacy for one thing and very discriminatory on the other.

    Can an electric company say you do not qualify for the rebate everyone else is getting this year based on the fact that your income >> source << is SSI?

    Can a school say you cannot participate in sports program because your income >> source << is child support?

    I have thought it out, and it's definitely NOT double-dipping. Food benefit is ours. NOT the business of the company. They cannot make social judgements like that. They cannot say, "You get your money from xyz, therefore we deny you." Not in the case of these food benefits, anyway. WIC, yes. EBT, no.

    It just boggles the mind. I know that many people have the mindset that this is 'free' money, but I'm referring to a matter of >> privacy <<.

    No one should be refused offers made to the general public based on the SOURCE of their income. That is discrimination in my book. Again, it is not Pediasure's business that the source of my grocery money is food stamps.

    As for people returning rebate items, it cannot happen in any case where the company requires a physical UPC code. The item is unreturnable. In rare instances, I've seen rebates that don't require UPCs, but a lot of stores (like Meijer) won't accept returns without a receipt at all anymore, and an original receipt is required for the vast majority of rebates.

    I am a very honest rebater and couponer, plus I do report cash income to my case worker. I'm a pretty straight arrow (can we say boringly straight?) I know there is fraud in any system, but that isn't me :).

    Well, again, thank you for your thoughtful input. I am still very hurt by this rebate. I guess my big fear is that more and more companies will start taking discriminatory action like this, but maybe my fear won't play out. This just sets a really bad precident.
    [This Message was Edited on 02/23/2006]
  20. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    it is to me. It would be akin to people delivering babies under Medicaid not being given any feebies from the hospital like baby foods etc from the cmpanies, or maybe that already happens? Wgho knows.

    Yes, I would think it falls under some sort of regulation, and it is worth persuing. How would they know if you used food stamps on the rebate by the way? Just apply for it anyway, but still persue it.

    Love Anne C

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