Let's look at Ebates, a review of how it works, its features, the pros and the cons of using this site to get cash back, or rebates on your online shopping.
I am not totally sold on this one yet. But that may be because of small personal peaves. For instance, when I first wanted to explore it, the site went dark with a window that insisted on taking my email address before it would let me even have a peek at the default index page. I found that uncomfortable. Why should I be forced to sign up before I can check it out?
Just the other day I took another look at their Terms of Service, and was struck by how defensive it sounded, as if it were assuming the worst from everyone in the world. I know there are other sites and software programs that sound like that when you read them, but nowadays many are writing their Terms in more readable and friendly tones. No doubt they hired someone else to write it for them, and it may have nothing to do with their own eager-for-business attitude, but some of us hesitate and turn away before we get far into their door.
So I've overcome my hestation and am exploring Ebates as impartially as I can. With some prowling around, I discover some tiny links at the bottom of the page that allow me to read their history and how it works.
Apparently this was the very first such a cash back site, started in 1998 by two Deputy District Attorneys who used to prosecute online fraud and identity thefts in the Silicon Valley of California. (That explains why they are so security conscious!) They make their money from the rebates of the stores they are affiliated with, so they are able to share some of that cache with members without having to charge membership fees, or anything else. Every three months they send out, what they call, the Big Fat Checks to their members. The size of them, of course, depends on how much shopping members have done, entering Ebates first, and then clicking on the stores of their choice.
Simply sign up for free at their site. You can't get lost because they don't let you 'see' the site until you do. However, you do get a lot of emails from them, so I recommend using an extra email just for receiving them. That keeps the one for your normal correspondence more tidy. (Mind you, if that helps you to forget about Ebates, it's not so great an idea).
When ready to shop, login. (Or, if you've clicked that you want to remain logged in just open the site in your browser; do this only if you are the ONLY one using your computer).
Find the store you want to shop at, click on the coded link, and go ahead to do your browsing and shopping there. Check out in their shopping cart. Just be careful not to wander away to other sites, or to close your browser window at the store, or the coded link you took will not be able to track your purchase. If you do (some of us are inveterate comparison shoppers, aren't we?), just go back to Ebates, and click on that store link again, and then stay there until you've completed your purchase.
Nothing else to do. In about 12-13 weeks you should get your Big Fat Check in the mail for all your shopping in the previous quarter.
This site now has 1200 stores to choose from. I even found a section of stores that are in Canada, or willing to ship to Canadian addresses. (That's a big deal to Canadians like myself, because, believe it or not, there are still people in the USA who are afraid that it is too complicated to ship purchases over the border to the north. If they but knew how easy it is!) However, that's only 49 stores of the total 1200.
It is possible to combine some coupons (not all) with your Ebates rebate for extra savings.
Every day one store is chosen as the "Daily Double". Your purchases that day, at that store-site through your EBates link, will give you a DOUBLE the usual rebate!
Some stores have exceptions for items on which they will not give a rebate. This site lists them on the Exceptions page.
While purchases made on a gift certificate are not eligible for a rebate, the purchase of gift cards are.
Ebates offers several tracking tools, so you can trace your rebates, your purchases, the stores you have visited, your saved coupons, and your tracking history.
You've heard of Groupon? Well, you can get 3% rebates on the already deep discounted prices on those coupons if you go through Ebates to get them.
If you don't really need or want your rebates, you can designate them to be sent to your favourite charity. (Nice!)
Confirming that your purchase is properly credited to you in Ebates can happen as quickly as 48 hours, or it may take as long as 30 days because some stores wait until the return period is over, in case the customer returns the purchase.
For that reason, Ebates waits until the 15th of the second month after the quarterly period of shopping, to send you the rebates. As I said, you often forget that you even have the rebate coming, so when it arrives, it's a pleasant surprise. It helps to know this in advance, so you don't panic.
Your rebate comes either as a Big Fat Check in the mail, or a deposit in your PayPal account. It depends on what setting you choose in your account settings. Ebates is testing some other options of direct deposit into your bank account, or perhaps a credit card. After you become a member, watch for announcements or invitations to take part in beta testing.
After a while I noticed that there are a number of ways to sort and find the kind of store you would like. There is the menu on the left, the filtering links on the right, and the search bar. If one method is frustrating, just try another. Note too, that there is a difference between the coupons and the products. If you hate coupons, for instance, and find yourself on a page of such results, don't despair, just click on products in the green bar across the top.
If you need inspiration for shopping. . . . (Some people need to feel they are going shopping 'with' someone instead of all alone). Then you'll probably find that in the blogs area. There are a whole list of guest bloggers who talk about their shopping finds and how they go about it. Personally, I shop best alone, but I have dipped into the blogs a bit, and it could help you.
Wow, I think spreading out their pros and cons helps me to see that this is a decent place to get cash back from my shopping. We just need to wait for more shopping money to come in, right?
Okay. In the meantime, you and I can do some comfortable browsing. Click on this wee banner to get there.