If you’re the type of consumer that’s always looking for the best deals you no doubt have seen web services, apps, coupon sites, browser plug-ins and more that will make sure that, before you make a purchase, you always get the best price.
But what about after you make a purchase? What if the price of the product you bought last week drops this week? Sure, if you’re lucky enough to catch that fact you could go back to the store, return the product, and purchase it again at the lower price. Of course that’s a lot of work, time and energy wasted.
Recently however, at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York City, a new service was introduced named Paribus that takes advantage of the low-price policy many retailers already have in place. The best part? It does the checking, and the refunding, automatically.
What the service does, after you sign up, is attach itself to your email accounts and, whenever a receipt is sent to you from a retailer, it scans the receipt and analyzes the content. After that, it starts checking to see if the price of the items you purchased happen to drop in that particular store. It does this for 14 days, which is the typical time frame for getting a refund from a retail establishment for a price drop.
The first drawback that Paribus has is that, as with any service that saves you money, it takes a commission for doing so. Paribus charges 25% of whatever the refund amount is but, frankly, it’s found money and you wouldn’t be getting anything back without the service.
When you consider how most retail stores are pricing these days, using very aggressive, dynamic pricing techniques based on demand and a number of other factors, the service that Paribus offers is more relevant than ever. There’s simply no way that a typical consumer could possibly track all of the price changes on everything that they purchase. Also, applying for a refund takes a considerable amount of time and effort.
When you consider that prices on practically every consumer item being purchased today are changed automatically using algorithms and software, it’s only fair that consumers have a service that uses those same algorithms to get some money back.
There is a 2nd drawback however and, depending on how you feel about online security and identity theft, it’s a big one.
In order to work, Paribus not only needs access to your personal email accounts but also to your credit card number so that, if it finds a difference in price, it can refund your money. If you use it to track your Amazon purchases, it needs to have your Amazon login information also.
Without a doubt that is a lot of trust to put into a web start up company. Luckily, most credit cards, as well as Google and Amazon, have extremely strong anti-fraud and security mechanisms in place.