Monday, November 5, 2007

eShop with eBates

For the past year or so, I've been a member of, a nifty little online service that gives you cash back on your purchases to select vendors. Here's how it works:
  • Go to <-- use this link please; it is a referral link.

  • Create an account (nothing is required other than your e-mail address and a created password).
  • Search for vendors at which you like to shop (Old Navy, Expedia, 1-800-CONTACTS, Frederick's of Hollywood, iTunes, etc.).
  • Click on the link for your selected vendor and shop as you would normally.

For each purchase you complete, you'll get a percentage of that purchase back in real cash to your ebates account. What percentage you get back depends on the vendor. See picture below.

Once you hit $5.00, you receive a check (or PayPal transfer). In addition, you also get to use coupons, gift certificates, whatever form of payment that vendor normally allows, and any other kind of promos you would normally use when shopping.

In addition, when you sign up, you get an automatic $5 credit that is sent to you after you complete your first purchase. If you sign up and make your first purchase by Nov. 30, you get $10 after making your first purchase. (Disclaimer: By clicking on that link above, I also get a $5 credit when you complete your first purchase as a referral bonus.)

Ebates doesn't store your credit card information although it may track your shopping preferences (just like most Web sites do) for the sake of promoting to you and its partners. Also, I do not have any idea whether you've purchased anything via ebates or what you might've purchased, either.

(Side note: I am a NetFlix member and I am steamed to learn that if I'd signed up for NetFlix via ebates, I would've gotten $18 smackeroos! Man!)

Anyway, so far, just from the occasional shopping we do at Old Navy online and the huge amount of shopping we do at iTunes, we've gotten back about $45 to date. Not bad. Not riches but more than we would've had otherwise.

By the way, the Kingston flash drive deal for $0 via that's listed below? Well, is an ebates partner. So when I purchased it via ebates, I got back 2% of the original $10 price (which was the price before the Google Checkout discount). Okay, okay, that's only $0.20. But the point here is that I just got paid $0.20 to receive a 1 GB flash drive. I like that.

Friday, November 2, 2007

TIP: Managing Promotional E-mail

Okay, first, what I want you to do is go find a big stick, the largest one you can wield. Then, go stand in front of your computer and shake that big stick at all of the promotional e-mail you receive: coupons and coupon codes, online catalogues, and invitations to increase (or decrease) the size of your genitals, waist, hips, feet, nose, or ear hair. Clearly, shaking a stick at all that received e-mail is as futile as the expression "more e-mail than you can shake a stick at" is ridiculous.

Spam filters help manage some of it, but there's a lot of this stuff you want to get. E-mail filters can help you direct it into various folders, but most e-mail applications (whether Web based or not) have a limit on how many filters you can create -- plus it's a lot of effort and not everyone is that comfortable with the technology.

So, whaddya do?

My suggestion, in this age of prolific and free e-mail accounts, is to simply create an "advertising only" e-mail address. I have one of my own (roughly named and this is the account I use for any Web based subscription service, whether it's Coldwater Creek, the Creekside Inn, or In-and-Out Burger. Everything comes to this single account and I look through it at my leisure and delete things freely, never worrying that I might delete that one terribly important e-mail from a family member. (You know the important e-mail I'm talking about. It's the one that warns against eating too many oxlips because the middle toe on your left foot could grow unreasonably large ... and be sure to forward this to everyone you know!)

Once having done this, be sure to use your "real" e-mail address only for "real" people (real people being humans rather than Web servers and grungy guys you met at the bar who you don't plan on giving your phone number to).