Here is the thing; rebates are a perfect arrangement for both large retailer and manufacturer. The retailer needs to have the lowest advertised sales price; this is how they get people in the door. But they don’t necessarily want to sell that item at the lowest possible price, so the rebate works great for them. The manufacturer is in a similar position; it needs to volume buying of a giant retailer but does not want to sell the items at the large volume discount that the retailer demands. So the rebate is the answer to both.
Remember that the lower the price the more both parties lose. So with the rebate, the retailer can advertise their low price, knowing that only about 1/3 of the people will cash it in, and the manufacturer can charge a higher wholesale price, crediting the retailer for every rebate cashed in. So since only about 1/3 of people cash them in everyone’s margins are higher this way and everyone wins.
Neither part wants the rebates enforced at a higher level, if they actually sold the entire inventory at that price; they would be bankrupt in a week. The goal is to sell one 3rd of the inventory at a loss to maintain a much larger (full retail price) profit on 2/3rds of the inventory. So they are not going to do anything to raise rebate literacy. They will probably save face with a commitment to better turn around time on submitted rebates. Just about the only thing you can do it vote with your feet, but you have to decide what the probability of not getting the rebate you send in is, versus a guarantee of not getting it. I estimate that you have around a 75%-95% change of getting a rebate, with the probability going up as the cost of the item and value of the rebate increases. So is that chance more valuable then the satisfaction of paying a guaranteed retail price at a smaller retailer?