I was introduced to Shopback by one of my friends almost two months ago after I posted on Facebook about my upcoming Taobao Spree (Apart from travel blogging, I kind of have a Spree/Mass Order business where I consolidate purchases for GMarket and Taobao since 2010. Right now, it is sadly grown into a not-for-profit “hobby” of mine).
Anyway, due to my “if all customers were like me, businesses will collapse” (a term that my colleague used on me due to my frequent bargain hunts) mentality, I was obviously attracted to earning CASHBACK from my online shopping! I “exploit” almost every available cashback credit card and plan their application timely for my big purchases and the best part of Shopback’s Cashback scheme is that I can double-up the cashback as both schemes (Shopback and Credit Card) are mutually exclusive!
Being the usually very skeptical me (If things are too good to be true, it is likely to be a scam), I held my reservations against this somewhat too-good-to-be-true Shopback scheme and did an extensive research on it.
I started off by watching this YouTube video of theirs which explains how this cashback could make sense.
Simply put, the clients (Online merchants like Groupon, Taobao, Agoda) pay the company (Shopback) money for every successful purchase/referral. Shopback takes the money and passes a portion of it on to their users (Like me!) who will feel happy receiving this additional cost saving! And because I’m happy, I blog about it and share it with my friends and readers and the number of users in Shopback’s customer base increases. When their customer base increase, they will have more bargaining power and as a result, more brands and online merchants will be more keen in joining Shopback in order to generate more sales for their website. This would be beneficial for the end consumers as we will get more choices, more savings for our purchases (and of course spend more). The cycle goes on indefinitely and almost everyone gains in, albeit in varying extents.
Shopback is a Singapore-based ecommerce company founded back in April 2014 and the website was launched in September in the same year; but I only knew about their brand approximately one year later. Like all startup booms, they have been expanding aggressively to markets into southeast asia markets like Malaysia, Philippines & Indonesia. I guess it’s a matter of time before they get will get acquired (Closest competitor ebates got acquired by Rakuten for US$1billion). Anyway, they have been featured as a promising startup in many articles:
- TechinAsia: https://www.techinasia.com/shopback-cashback-online-shopping-raised-600k-investors/
- Straits Times: http://www.straitstimes.com/tech/website-offers-cash-back-for-e-purchases
- Vulcan Post: https://vulcanpost.com/174511/steady-silent-and-deadly-inside-singapores-hidden-gem-startup-shopback/
After my extensive background check on its credentials, I was finally ready to start my Shopback adventure (but with a lot of skepticism).
1. Signing up an account was a breeze but I did not receive the $5 referral bonus
I did not receive a referral link from my friend when I first signed up. She told me to explore shopback and shared nothing about the $5 referral bonus. I signed up for my account and learnt about the $5 referral bonus (for each the referee and referrer). Instead of waiting for my friend to invite me (was very excited the moment I discovered it), I decided to suck it up and forsake my could have been $5 and started inviting people within my circle of friends who online shop.
2. Refer-a-friend bonus is attractive but it’s too hard to keep track
Shopback has been ultra attractive with their refer a friend bonus. For Nov-Dec 2015, If you successfully refer 3 friends (qualified referral means your friend made a valid purchase of more than $25 and that its traceable in their system) within the same month, you are eligible for a bonus $60 payout 4 months later in February 2016 (Read the Fine Prints). Back in October, the bonus was only $35 for 3 successful referrals and in September, you needed 5 successful referrals to get their $50 bonus. Anyway, their attractive factor is increasing by the months and I’m contemplating delaying till January as there may be an even better deal. To be honest, $60 payout is super attractive but I still have some unresolved issues with how they track it.
To date, my account shows 13 referrals (meaning I sent out the invite via email to 13 people);
I earned $5 bonus from 1 friend (I know she made a valid purchase, avid shopper on groupon and taobao);
I have 4 friends which shows the status as “Awaiting $25 purchase” and I know either 1 or 2 of them made purchases already;
yet it reflects that my bonus earned is $15.00.
So.. Is my bonus $5 (based on earned bonus status) or $15 (according to their summary)?
Update from Shopback Team: We have received feedback that our RAF tracking is indeed a little, messy, and we have plans in this month to revamp the whole page. There will be more visibility in your referrals and the bonus status will be updated accurately, so give us some time to work on this.
Apart from the inconsistencies, there’s one unanswered loophole that shopback did not put it in their FAQ and T&C.
If I invite a friend in September, she signs up in October and makes a valid purchase of more than $25 on Groupon. Groupon cashback is only redeemable after 60 days and it would be December by the time she gets her money. Is this referral considered a success in the month of September, October or December?
Update from Shopback Team: To qualify for the RAF campaign bonus, the friend must sign up within the time frame, spend at least $25 within the time frame to be considered a qualified referral. The referral will be considered on the sign up date.
Anyway, the conclusion is that it takes a lot of effort to follow up with your friend on their sign up and purchases (Who ever said $5 or $60 bonus was easy to “earn”?) and I think I’ll take a step back in this area and keep to the main business of the website – getting cashback the usual way from my habitual online shopping.
3. Expect at least an EDM a day from Shopback
The emails keep coming in and some of their information could be repetitive (e.g. Groupon flash deal promo) as I am already in Groupon’s mailing list. However, other information like upsized cashback and adding of new merchants (waiting and hoping for GMarket Korea to be part of it) is worth the read. I guess getting your email flooded is a small price to pay for something better.
4. You will be rewarded for your patience
This is something that most people do not have in today’s day and age and just feel that it is not worth it to go through so much (time and effort) to earn that small amount of money. Let me share my experience on the slow and lengthy process of getting the cashback.
First, you have to understand that there are 3 categories in your Shopback – Pending, Redeemable & Payout.
After you make a purchase from the merchant site using the Shopback referral link, wait 1-5 days, you should receive an email titled “Latest Transaction Email” and your “Pending” category would reflect the cashback amount. The status would either be “Pending” or it may be “redeemable in XX days”. At this stage, we can do nothing about the wait, but be patient. There are mainly 2 types of cashback, one is by a percentage basis (ususally 4 to 10%) while the other is a flat rate ($15 in the case of Agoda).
- Groupon cashback – takes 1 to 2 days to appear in your “Pending” account and another 50-60 days to be reflected as “Redeemable”
- Agoda has a promo of $15 cashback for bookings made through their page. If I’m not wrong, my Agoda booking was only $80 yet I received $15 cashback and thats like an 18% rebate! This $15 cashback amount became redeemable approximately 2 months after I completed the stay at the hotel.
- Hotels.com (back then it was a 6% rebate) – It has been more than 5 weeks after my stay and the status of my $10+ cashback still remains as “Pending”. Not sure what went wrong but if I still don’t receive the cashback, I will most probably get shopback’s team to investigate. That’s like a price of a movie ticket/4 fingers meal at stake.
- Update from the Shopback Team: For the Hotels.com booking, There was a technical glitch in the Hotels.com side which resulted in the orders not being updated. We have patched the bug but some older orders are still affected until our users write in to contact us. (Cashback is redeemable after they replied my email.)
- Taobao – the main reason I signed up for Shopback – is pretty awesome. Despite indicating that cashback is redeemable in 60 days, i have been getting the “redeemable” status for my taobao purchases in less than a month! To date, it is the fastest cashback redemption.
However, the one annoying thing about taobao is that it does not tell you the %tage of cashback for each item. Furthermore, not all items bought from Taobao are eligible for cashback. Usually when I order, I buy like 20 to 30 items at any one time and each item is reflected as a separate line labeled “Taobao”. Half the lines will show u $0.00 and the other half would be in amounts like $0.07 or $0.39 as the items in Taobao are dirt cheap. It is impossible to track the “earnings” from taobao referral purchases, unless you only order one item at a time. Nevertheless, I’m not complaining much as I’ve been getting quite a comfortable amount from Taobao every month (due to my frequent sprees).
Conclusion? It will be a lengthy waiting game for your shopback cashback amount to be redeemable. You can choose to be super kanchiong and check daily for updates (Like me as I needed the info to blog) or just chillax and trust that Shopback team is not withholding any potential cashback from you.
Feedback from Shopback Team: The reason why the cashback takes so long to become redeemable is due to the validation period set by the merchants in order to prevent fraudulent orders. Taobao is very efficient in this aspect,while some merchants do it by batches / monthly basis. Payout process is done weekly by batches to ensure that our users receive their cashout as soon as possible.
5. You need to have at least $10.01 in your redeemable account to be eligible for a Payout
After the long wait for your cashback to be redeemable, you may be in for a disappointment as you need $10.01 in order to request for a Payout. Do note that Bonus earned (via referrals) does not contribute to this $10.01 count. If you only shop on Groupon, you need to make a purchase of more than $100 on a 10% cashback promotion (usually its 4-6%) and wait for 60 days before the amount becomes redeemable. Conclusion? Wait again.
6. Redeemable to Payout (Bank Transfer or Paypal)
And when you finally reach $10.01 in your redeemable account, you will be eligible for a payout. Click on the “Request payout” button and you will have to verify your account against your email (if you haven’t done so earlier). After which, you will have to provide your bank account number or paypal account for them to do the payout. It was a 7 to 14 days wait before I finally see my first payout of $24.28. This was seven weeks after I first registered (mid Sep 2015) and now I can finally tell my friends/readers that this cashback thing is totally legit (for now).
To all the people out there still procrastinating, feeling lazy about the signup and the extra steps involved to making a purchase.. think again!
The best part of this is that you can earn cashback from shopback above all existing credit card cashback rebate.
Do you want to join me in “cost savings” for your purchases (but end up spending more money) and enjoy a $5 bonus credit referral fee from Shopback?
Leave a comment with your email and I will be more than happy to drop you a referral email. I am not sharing a referral link as I’m afraid that it will be abused so if you want to have cost savings, you need to click that comment button below. Not to worry, your email address will not be publicized.
Hope all these information would be useful and do note that all the above information is based on my personal experience as at November 2015 and I hold no responsibility if your experience is not as pleasant as mine.
This post is in not sponsored by shopback and everything is of my own opinion.
[Update] Less than 12 hours (10 hours to be exact) after I posted this post about my review, Shopback’s manager emailed me and thank me for my review and requested for my account details so that they can address the issues that I was facing. I was like.. seriously? Do they have a 24 hour social media tracker and super efficient customer affairs team? I have not shared this post on Facebook nor mention them nor give them a linkback in my blog.. Oh wells, they replied and resolved my issues within the same day and I’m a pretty satisfied customer for now 🙂 Shopback FTW!