Many online retailers offer a “Low Price Guarantee”, which doesn’t mean they actually have the lowest prices but only that they will match a lower price if you find it and ask for your money within a certain time window. Sometimes they’ll match certain competitors, and sometimes they’ll only match themselves.
For example, let’s say you buy some shoes and you find that a week later they are $25 less. If you don’t both notice and ask using the proper channels, you won’t get that $25 adjustment.
Paribus is a start-up which promises to help you automatically request price adjustments on all your online purchases. They’ll even see if you could have saved more using another coupon code. Thanks to reader Colin for the tip.
What does it cost? The service makes money on a contingency basis, taking 25% of any savings found. If it doesn’t save you money, it doesn’t get paid.
What merchants does it support? Here’s the current list:
- Best Buy
- J. Crew
- Banana Republic
- Old Navy
Any concerns or catches? Well, in order for their bots to do their thing (and basically impersonate you), you’ll need to hand them a decent amount of information. I signed for an account and this is what they wanted:
- Control over your e-mail address. You will need an e-mail from a major provider (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or iCloud) and either need to authenticate them or give them your e-mail password. They need the ability to both scan your e-mail for receipts and send e-mails requesting refunds on your behalf.
- Your Amazon.com password. If you want to utilize Amazon’s price match policy, you’ll have to give them your account password (which they promise to keep encrypted on their servers).
- Your credit card information. Most retailers will credit your money onto the same payment method as the original purchase, so you’ll have to leave a credit card on file with Paribus for them to charge their finder’s fee.
A workaround for e-mail privacy concern would be to create a special e-mail address for shopping (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) and then set up auto-forwarding of everything going to that “dummy account” to your normal e-mail address (i.e. email@example.com). That way, you can just check your normal e-mail and still get all your online receipts.
I just signed up for an account today, but here’s a screenshot which shows some theoretical savings:
This does seem like a good idea for a service, although the merchants probably won’t like it as they profit when we are lazy and uninformed. I don’t like the idea of giving out my Amazon password, but really that is the only online merchant that I use regularly. The final question will be if their execution lives up to the promise of “set-it-and-forget-it” savings.