An Overview of Rbate

Rbate offers …

  • An easy way to compile and manage your online & offline product research,
  • A better way to search for professional product advice,
  • New ways to reward these advisors so they're less reliant on advertising, paywalls, and selling products,
  • Automated advisors that use a survey-like interview, so you get personalized recommendations instead of reams of text, and
  • A place to claim manufacturer cash rebates.

Finding purchasing help, and saving what you've used and learned

Say there's a problem you need to solve, or there's something you desire. Would buying a good or a service help? If so, what sort of product, what brand and model, bought from whom, would make me most happy?

So you go to rbate.com, where you can search for offline and online sources of professional purchasing help — articles, videos, forums, automated advisors, full-service stores, and consultants — which are ranked according to how helpful each has already been to product buyers and other users.

Or instead of searching for help you may chance across something while browsing a newspaper, magazine, or the Net, or while watching TV.

Rbate gives you an easy way to remember which sources of purchasing help you've used, and how helpful each was. A helper might tell you which products best suit your needs. Or they may find you the best price for a product, but know when it's worth choosing a more expensive brand, model, or vendor.

If a source of help was on the Net, it can be added to your list of Rbate "Rmarks" as soon as you visit the webpage, though you can still make a gesture or click a button like the one below to Rmark the article, comment, or app, rate how helpful it was, and save some notes about it.

Rbate Rmark

If a source of help was instead on paper, on TV, on the radio, or in person, you may see or be given an Rbate grab.as or clip.as Web-address, which you can type into a Web browser or shoot with your smartphone's camera to give yourself an Rmark to that help. Or the Helper may Rmark their source for you by asking for your email address or by asking you to hover your smartphone over their RFID wristband.

Your Rmarks represent your rated and annotated collection of product (and other) research, which you can search, filter, and review when it comes time to make a decision.

Claiming cashback, rewarding helpers, & talking to product makers

Say you end up buying a particular product from a particular vendor. That product will sometimes come with a sticker, card, or link that entitles you to a manufacturer's cash rebate that can be claimed through rbate.com. (Rbate maintains a catalog of these rebates.)

During a rebate claim you're shown a list of your Rmarks, with the most relevant, recent, and highest-rated ones on top. You select which of these sources of assistance you found helpful or very helpful for this purchase (including advice that turned you off buying another product), and which advice, given your experience with the product, misled you.

You're then given the option to donate part of your rebate to the creators of each helpful source of assistance, perhaps in return for a public acknowledgement or something special. Alternatively, Helpers can charge a deferred fee for their work, which acts like a suggested donation, only paid from your rebates if you end up finding that work helpful and the fee reasonable. You're also given the opportunity to support general journalism by donating to the creators of pieces which don't normaly affect purchasing decisions, but which you've Rmarked as helpful.

Further, the Helpers who created the works you marked as helpful have the option of receiving a bonus payment from the company that made the product you bought, which acknowledges the assistance the Helper has given to one of the company's customers (you!). Helpers can choose what they know about these bonus offers, whether they want to receive bonus payments, and can write an editorial policy document — all of which Rbate publishes. Together with the Helper's reputation, these help you judge to what extent a Helper is working in your interest.

Combined, these donation, deferred fee, and bonus payments allow Helpers to rely less on advertising and selling to fund their services, which are respectively being eroded by search-engines and discount outlets, and which don't give you the independent help you want.

A second aspect of an Rbate rebate claim is a set of survey questions. Some of these are written by the product maker who's paying you the rebate, which allows them to find out who's buying their products, why they're buying them, and what they think of those products. Other questions can be written by the makers of competing products, which lets them find out why you didn't choose one of their offerings. Each question you answer of this second type increases your rebate.

After your claim is submitted, Rbate pays your net rebate entitlement by electronic transfer.

That's Rbate in a nutshell — making it easier for consumers get free independent professional help when they're comparison shopping, giving these providers of consumer advice new ways to get discovered and get paid, and giving product makers both new ways to make people more informed about their products and new ways to become more informed about their shoppers.