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Your Money : Walt Disney’s ‘Return of the Rebate’

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“The Return of Jafar,” the sequel to Walt Disney’s best-selling “Aladdin” videocassette, could well be subtitled “The Return of the Rebate.”

Consumers are being offered a $10 rebate on “The Return of Jafar” if they also purchase certain Pillsbury cake mixes and-or Mattel toys. In the case of “Aladdin,” consumers received rebates if they bought Colgate toothpaste and toothbrushes--and remembered to send in receipts and proofs of purchase.

Unless you’re planning a bake sale--or an early Christmas--the “Jafar” rebate deal isn’t for you. You must spend at least $6 on icing and three boxes of cake mix by the end of June to get the $5 rebate from Pillsbury. To get the rebate from Mattel, you must buy one of four toys at prices ranging from $8 to $30. (The parents of boys should be mad: The toys aimed at boys--a rocket set and a racing car set--cost between $25 and $30, while two dolls in the offer, presumably for girls, cost $8 each.)

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In order to get the $10 rebate, consumers end up spending between $15 and $40 over the cost of the video, usually between $15 and $22. Quite a deal.

If you can’t count on the rebate to lower the cost of the video, what’s a good price for “Jafar”? Amy Innerfield of the New York consulting firm Alexander & Associates said retailers are paying between $13 and $15 for the video. Merchants selling “The Return of Jafar” at those prices are forgoing profits on it to lure you into their stores.

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Here’s a real vote of confidence: As the summer beach season gets under way, Weight Watchers International is reaching out to former clients. The unit of Heinz Inc. is mailing them coupons that can be redeemed for free Avon skin creams and lotions.

A reward for people who have managed to keep the weight off? Hardly. To use the coupons, former clients must be at least two pounds over their “goal weights” and be willing to “come back to Weight Watchers” to shed the extra pounds. The coupons can be redeemed only at participating Weight Watchers centers.

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Food fight: Big Bird is readying to take on Ninja Turtles for control of the lunch table.

American Home Food Products this summer will introduce “Sesame Street” canned pastas, with less sodium, sugar and fat than its line of Chef Boyardee pastas, some shaped like sharks, dinosaurs or Ninja Turtles. Product manager Barbara Pound says American Home reduced amounts of those ingredients at the insistence of Children’s Television Workshop, producers of “Sesame Street.”

But “Sesame Street” pastas aren’t low in sodium. The amount per serving ranges from 240 to 520 milligrams, depending on the kind of sauce. (Meat sauces have more.) The government defines a low-sodium food as one containing 140 milligrams of sodium or less.

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Odds and ends: The personal touch: Inside an envelope addressed to “Resident” is a questionnaire from Watterson College in Pasadena that begins, “You have been chosen to receive this survey through a comprehensive selection process.” . . . Money machine: American Express is testing sales of traveler’s checks through automated teller machines in Dallas, Boston and Hartford, Conn. . . . Name game: The Federal Trade Commission has reached a false-advertising settlement with Beverly Hills Weight Loss Clinics, which runs nine Eastern centers from a headquarters in Portsmouth, R.I. The allegations involved claims about the price and success of the program, not the name.

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