Friday, April 17, 2015

Save Money on the Large Majority of Internet Purchases

It is possible to save money on the large majority of Internet purchases by signing up for Ebates.  Then, whenever you want to purchase something online, simply go to their website, click on the merchant you wish to buy items at, and you will get back a certain percentage of what you spent in cash back!  Signing up is free, and Ebates will never take a penny from you as a customer, ever--the company makes money from the advertisers on its website, not from customers who sign up for its service.  In fact, there is a way to get c. 4% back on all purchases you make, whether on the Internet or not, using Ebates:  click here to find out how.  Furthermore, if you sign up with the button below, you will get a $10 gift card just for joining.  I have had a positive experience with Ebates for a number of years and have received a large amount of cash back simply for clicking through their website and purchasing what I would have purchased anyway.  You can get cash back at stores such as, Walmart, Macy's, Barnes and Noble, and hundreds and hundreds of other major merchants.  They also keep track of coupon codes for the merchants so you can easily find out if, say, your favorite store has a special 50% off deal that you would not know about otherwise.  Ebates is also a high quality business;  they have treated me well personally as a customer and they have been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 6/2000 and earned an A+ rating.  Start saving with Ebates today by clicking on the icon below and then clicking on the "join" button on the top right of the page:
Ebates Coupons and Cash Back
Another company that does the same thing as Ebates is Main Street Shares (Big Crumbs until early 2015), a competitor of Ebates.  Main Street Shares often has slightly higher cash back amounts than Ebates, but not as many companies are part of its network (although one can still get cash back on popular companies from Ebay to Best Buy to Walmart.)  It is also entirely free to you as a customer, since its business model is similar to that of Ebates.  However, it also offers special profit-sharing potential that creates the possibility for significantly higher cash back with the company than with Ebates (find out how by clicking on the banner below.)  You can save the most money by joining both companies and then comparing the two to see which gives you a better deal when you want to purchase something online.  Main Street Shares (formerly Big Crumbs) is not BBB rated.  I have had no problems with them and have received lots of cash back, but if lack of a BBB rating is an issue for you, I definitely understand.  You can join Main Street Shares using the button here:
I asked Main Street Shares (formerly Big Crumbs) about the BBB issue, since I was concerned about what the BBB website said about their company.  I received a reply, most of which I have reproduced below, from Big Crumbs customer support.  It somewhat alleviates my concern about the matter, although I cannot say I am on board with their view of the BBB.  I personally have used Big Crumbs (and am now a Main Street Shares member) since June of 2013, have received large amounts of cash back, and have not had problems with getting cash back or with their customer service, which has been prompt and helpful.  However, I obviously cannot speak for all customers, and if someone does not find their explanation below convincing, I certainly understand; I would recommend that such a person save money with Ebates but pass on Main Street Shares.
Thanks for your interest and for your very astute question [about the lack of a BBB rating]! In fact, the mismatch between your experience with BigCrumbs and our BBB rating is precisely the reason we don't "cooperate" with the BBB! The explanation requires a bit of detail/background, but please bear with me...
Contrary to popular belief, the BBB has no ability or authority to regulate or rate businesses. Many people think that the BBB is affiliated with the federal or local government, however, this is not the case. In fact, their "rating" system is self-serving and we find that the BBB's practices border on extortionate. If you search the Internet, you will find many businesses that have made similar observations, as well as 20/20 and other investigations into their practices.
Essentially, it comes down to this: Consumers complain to the BBB, frequently believing that the BBB wields some type of regulatory or arbitration authority. But, the BBB simply demands that businesses respond to these consumers using the BBB's own system, or face a negative rating, thus further contributing to the BBB's perceived value in consumers' eyes. Yet, the BBB has no knowledge of how the business functions and is not in a position to make a judgment as to whether the customer was treated fairly.
So, the BBB's rating system has absolutely nothing to do with whether the business has earnestly attempted to satisfy customers or treated them fairly. Instead, it frequently rates primarily whether the business allowed itself to be coerced into replying to the BBB and increasing the BBB's value. Any business that does not cooperate with the BBB's demands, thus risks earning an "F" rating. That's exactly what happened to BigCrumbs.
Worse, the BBB has a "Reliability" or "Accreditation" program in which the business can pay to be considered reliable by the BBB and, further, for the honor of participating in the BBB's scheme to cooperate in increasing the BBB's perceived value. The 20/20 investigation found very strong evidence that low-rated companies suddenly received high ratings upon paying to be members of their "Reliability program". Of course, that makes sense. How can any company that is being paid to "rate" other companies possibly be objective?
And, when we received our first complaints (along with threats by the BBB to respond via their system or face a negative rating from them), we earnestly responded and attempted to resolve the matter. However, we later realized how naive we were and that the BBB had no idea how our business operated. So, when a member attempted to use the BBB's system to place unreasonable demands on our business, we decided that we would no longer cooperate in the BBB's scheme as a matter of principle.
Still, in over nine years in business and millions of dollars in cash back paid across millions of purchases, BigCrumbs has received only ten or so complaints to the BBB, with five of these coming over the past three years. So, the overwhelming majority of members have had the same positive experience that you have. Yet, in spite of all of this, there we stand with an "F" rating from the BBB! This, when we never agreed to be rated by them or have them act as an intermediary between BigCrumbs and our valued members.
That  in itself shows that the BBB has virtually no value as an objective rating authority. In our estimation (and that of many others), it serves to promote its own interests, using the notion of assisting consumers as a thinly veiled tool to coerce businesses into participating in, and paying for, their programs.
I hope this long-winded explanation helps! It's really a story that all consumers should know[.]

This study can be accessed here.

Note: After being a happy member of both companies and getting thousands of dollars in cash back by simply clicking in the right place, I decided to become an affiliate of both Ebates and Big Crumbs. If you use the buttons on this webpage, I will receive financial compensation for helping you to save money.  I can in good conscience say that there is nothing on this website that I would not have said were I not an affiliate of the companies, and I believe that it is appropriate that we both benefit from the information I have put together for your benefit here (1 Timothy 5:18).  However, if you are bothered by the fact that I will be compensated if you use these buttons to sign up, you can sign up on the webpage of either or both companies without clicking on these buttons, and I will get nothing.  If you choose to use the buttons on this webpage, I offer you my sincere thanks.


Farmer Brown said...

The BBB thing is real. I own a business and have been running it for about 12 years. I have received a number of calls from the BBB asking me to sign up for their service and pay the signup fee of $400+.

I do not have a rating with them right now, they said, but if I become accredited, which is nothing more than giving them money as far as I could tell, I would automatically have a "A" rating. That is a pretty fishy offer, and has been a well documented practice with BBB affiliates around the country. I declined to pay.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Farmer,

Thanks for the comment and your perspective on the BBB. I think it is possible that businesses that aren't good can have an "A" rating at times, but if one does NOT have an "A" rating but, say, an "F" one, I believe there are at least frequently very good grounds for suspicion of the business.

KJB1611 said...

The link to the page where this material is from has changed--it is now here:

and there is further useful information that has been added.