A Small Slim Check from Ebates, But still Good

The last big fat check (that’s what they call it) I received from Ebates was August 2006 in an amount of $44.98 after I used their ShareBuilder incentives ($20 for each account opened) to open two ShareBuilder accounts and got $40 cashbacks (now you can only use the cashback once). Another check of $8.68 was delivered via PayPal today as a reward for shopping through their website in the past half a year. A small amount, but with no extra effort.

While it feels good to get something back for the shopping I have to do anyway, dealing with Ebates for the cashbacks isn’t always straightforward and their reward policy changes from time to time. For instance, I made a lot of purchases at Buy.com in the last two months of 2006 through Ebates and was hoping to get the cashbacks for all my shoppings. However, when I contacted them in January about the cashbacks, I was told that since I used Google Checkout, which offered some discounts at that time, all my purchases were disqualified because, as they responded to my email inquiry, “our merchants do not give us commission for these orders.” When I asked them when was this policy enacted, they told me November. After I checked their FAQs, I found the following:

Also, we cannot ensure that cash-back will be earned if Google Checkout is used as the method of payment for your purchase.

Who’s gonna check the policy every time when making a purchase? So I didn’t get any cashback for those hundreds of dollars I spent via their website in November and December 2006. Also, sometimes the cashbacks weren’t credited in time and I had to contact them to get the credits. Another problem is they only keep three months of shopping history (tracking tickets), current month plus two previous months. If I don’t check the cashback status very often, it’s difficult to find out exactly which cashback I deserved was credited after three months. Last month, after I noticed my tracking tickets of October 2006 were no longer in my account, I emailed them asking if they can help me find my October tracking tickets. The replied email says I need to state “which tracking ticket you are referring to and for what date so we can look into this matter further.”

If I knew which tracking ticket, why did I bother to ask you? According to their policy, it can take up to 30 days after the purchase for the cashback to be rewarded, yet they only two previous months of history in my account.

Of course, there are other alternatives to get a little back for the dollars I spend online. One is UPromise and another one I use is FatWallet. If you do a comparison (here are some between Ebates and FatWallet), you will find that the cashback percentages from these websites are almost identical. Which one to use depends on which one you feel comfortable with.

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