Re­bates and Cash Back

Calhoun Times - - FRONT PAGE - Ken Her­ron

Around ten years ago, the rage gim­mick was a Mail-In Re­bate on ma­jor item pur­chases. I pur­chased a cell­phone with a $100 Mail-In Re­bate. I had al­most for­got­ten about it when I re­ceived a let­ter that said my re­bate was re­fused be­cause I had not signed a state­ment in the mid­dle of the form that was not high­lighted in any way. I made tele­phone calls up the chain un­til I reached the sec­re­tary of the pres­i­dent of the com­pany. I wrote a col­umn about the ex­pe­ri­ence that was very un­fa­vor­able to the com­pany and sent a copy of the col­umn to the of­fice of the pres­i­dent. I as­sured them that I was go­ing to dis­con­nect all of my tele­phones from their ser­vice and I would pe­ri­od­i­cally write col­umns that would not be fa­vor­able to their com­pany. In about ten days I re­ceived my $100 re­bate. I did not col­lect most of the Mail-In Re­bates that I filed for and I con­cluded that it was a fraud­u­lent tech­nique for get­ting my money. That tech­nique has gone away be­cause ev­ery­one caught on to the gim­mick and it was not a fac­tor in pur­chases.

Sev­eral years ago, Dis­cover Card, which was a Sears’s com­pany, be­gan to of­fer Cash-Back on pur­chases made with the Dis­cover Card. The amount var­ied from 1 to 5 per­cent de­pend­ing on the amount of pur­chases and the items pur­chased. Sears even­tu­ally sold Dis­cover and it has since be­come an in­de­pen­dent com­pany. It is the fourth largest credit card com­pany now. Most of the other credit card com­pa­nies picked up the cash­back fea­ture and now it is com­mon on credit cards. It ir­ri­tates me to an un­be­liev­able level. They are go­ing to give me money for mak­ing pur­chases on their credit card. The only money that the credit card com­pany has come from my pur­chases. It is my money that they are giv­ing back to me. I would rather that they not col­lect it from the mer­chant and let the mer­chant lower the price of the prod­ucts. Sales of prod­uct should be han­dled in the sim­plest man­ner. The credit card com­pa­nies have to be paid for their ser­vice of col­lect­ing the debt but they do not need to over­charge for their ser­vice and then give part of it back to me.

The per­son who pays cash for the re­tail prod­ucts pay the same price for the prod­ucts as the per­son who charges pur­chases on a credit card. Part of the cash pur­chase also goes to pay for the credit pur­chase. Even if I do not par­tic­i­pate in the cash-back pro­gram, part of my money goes to pay for the credit card owner’s cash-back ac­tiv­ity.

Lo­cally, I use my bank debit card for pur­chases. This is a lower cost op­tion for the mer­chant. Debit cards do not process through a na­tional pro­gram and they charge a lower rate for the pro­cess­ing cost. It is nor­mally around 40 per­cent less ex­pen­sive to the mer­chant. The charge is de­ducted from your bank ac­count usu­ally the next day. A credit card charge will be paid by the bank that is­sued the credit card and then billed to you for pay­ment. This can give you a few days to ride the bal­ance on the credit card. The credit card can also give you pro­tec­tion in the case your credit card is stolen. The mer­chant has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to check the iden­tity of the per­son us­ing the credit card so the credit card bank can go back to the mer­chant and get the money back on false pur­chases. Lo­cal banks do not have the staff nor the abil­ity to go back to the mer­chants to re­claim the money. It is al­ready gone from your bank ac­count. Usu­ally lo­cal banks have in­sur­ance against this type of fraud, but your money is gone un­til the in­sur­ance re­places it.

I also dis­like hav­ing to use an iden­tity card at a re­tail es­tab­lish­ment to get the lower prices. Ev­ery­thing that is pur­chased with the iden­tity card is recorded and the mer­chants know not only the brands that you pur­chase, they know the size of the con­tainer. All of this is in­for­ma­tion that I would pre­fer to keep pri­vate. You can com­bine my pur­chase record with my credit re­port that knows all of my debts and my school records, which has all of my grades, and my tax records that has all of my in­come sources. My com­puter has a record of every web­site that I have vis­ited and every in­di­vid­ual that I have con­tacted. Then you check my tele­phone records that knows who I talk to and my bank records that has all of my fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions and the record of the TV pro­grams that I watch you will know ev­ery­thing about me. Don’t ever think that the FBI, the CIA and other law en­force­ment agen­cies can­not check every one of these ar­eas. If you have a GPS unit in your au­to­mo­bile, they can find where you have trav­eled. If you have a cell phone that is turned on, they can lo­cate you within a cou­ple of min­utes. If your cell­phone is turned off, there are pro­grams that can turn it back on with­out your knowl­edge.

There is no rea­son to tell any­body to be care­ful. Ev­ery­thing that we do now is a mat­ter of per­ma­nent record.

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