We get it. Times are hard. Student loans, exorbitant rents, and an ever-ascending cost of living are fleecing the fuck out of America everyday. So, when it comes to gift-giving—especially for that new person you’re dating—it's often painful to come out the pocket. Well, apparently some people don’t have to as they’ve found a way to get reimbursed for their gift-giving. Seriously, no joke…we’ve learned that people are nabbing free stuff from almost any online retailer by taking advantage of Ebates holiday referral program.
To take a step back, Ebates is an affiliate site that gets commissions from referring shoppers to online retailers. Ebates then splits those commissions with the shopper, letting you to earn anywhere between 1% to 20% cash back on your purchases—no strings attached. As an example, suppose you want to buy a book called “How To Treat Your Employees like Crap” from Walmart (the exclusive retailer of this hypothetical book). Instead of going directly to Walmart.com, you’d first go to Ebates.com and then click on the Walmart link. After you buy the book, Ebates deposits 3% cash back into your account and mails out checks rebate quarterly. For more on how Ebates works, click here.
Now, here’s the gem: Ebates has a referral program that awards you $100 if you refer 3 people to Ebates and they each use Ebates to make a purchase $25 or greater (see image below). Not a bad proposition given that Ebates is simply handing out free money that would have otherwise been left on the table…shouldn’t be hard to convince 3 friends to sign up, right?
Where this gets interesting is that shrewd consumers are allegedly gaming Ebates and using 4 email accounts of their own to secure the $100 award—and then repeating the cash-grab with 3 new emails accounts over and over again (A refers B, C, D and B refers E, F, G so on and so forth). The math makes sense: across 3 accounts, if you purchase $75 worth of stuff, Ebates will kick you back $100 + your share of the affiliate commissions. Free crap and free cash? No complaints there...
Whatever route you take, act fast as the referral program expires on 12/31.