Money at 30: Paribus Review (2019)

Have you ever pulled the trigger on a purchase only to watch the price fall mere days later? That’s the frustration Paribus aims to alleviate and eliminate. The Capital One-owned service helps consumers claim refunds on their purchases when items drop in price or their packages arrive after their promised date.

So does Paribus live up to the hype? Let’s take a look at what the service is, how it works, and my experience trying it out.

What is Paribus and How Does it Work?

Signing up and getting started

The process of opening your Paribus account is probably a bit different from what you’re likely used to. Instead of getting the options to create a username and password, you’ll have to sign-up using your e-mail account. More specifically, you’ll need to have either a Gmail, Yahoo, or Microsoft account. Lest you think you can sneak by this step by clicking the “Use another email provider” button below, doing so will merely display a message reading (in part), “In order to optimize security for our users going forward, Paribus only allows sign ups with Gmail, Yahoo or Microsoft email accounts.”

So, assuming you have one of the three available options, the next step will be to log into your account and grant Paribus permission to access to your e-mail. Admittedly this can be a fairly intimidating proposition — especially since Gmail states that you’ll be allowing Paribus the ability to “Read, compose, send, and permanently delete all your email from Gmail.” On the one hand, Paribus notes that they use a tokenized log in flow, meaning that your credentials aren’t actually stored. But, on the other hand, one can’t help but think of Capital One’s recent data hack when considering whether to grant them such access.

In any case, once you’ve completed the main sign-up process, Paribus will begin scanning your e-mails for purchase receipts. As this happens, you’ll see past items begin popping up in your Paribus dashboard and may even get alerts about any eligible refunds or compensation you can file for. Meanwhile, if you want to allow Paribus to monitor your Amazon purchases to verify that your shipments arrive on time, you’ll need to log in to your Amazon account via Paribus as well.

What Paribus does

Now that you’ve allowed Paribus to comb through your e-mails and Amazon purchases, what exactly does the service do? The short version is that looks for purchases you’ve made at select retailers, assesses whether a price drop occured after your purchase, and helps you file for a refund if you’re eligible for one. Additionally the app will compare any promised shipment dates to their actual arrival to see if you might be compensated for late deliveries. Lastly you can also see if an item is still able to be returned according to the retailers policies.

Currently some of the retailers Paribus’s service works with include:

  • Best Buy
  • Macy’s
  • Old Navy
  • Target
  • Costco
  • Wayfair
  • Kohl’s
  • and more

It’s important to note that each of these retailers has their own rules and restriction, which you can get more info on via Paribus’s guide. For example, Macy’s will price adjust for price drops or missed coupons within 10 days of your order, while Sears will price adjust for price drops within 30 days of your order — but, quite specifically, no adjustments are given between Thanksgiving Day and the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. Plus, while Paribus will be able to file for price adjustments on your behalf withfor some retailers, other times the service will merely alert you to a drop and tell you how to file for a refund (be it by calling, online chat, or other means).

Once upon a time, Amazon was among those that offered price protections on some of its item. Unforuntately those days have passed. Thus, Paribus shifted to alerting Amazon buyers about late shipments and trying to get them refunds on associated shipping costs. That’s still what the service offers, although now you’ll need to copy and paste their script into an online chat with Amazon. If you’re curious, this script reads, “My order #XXXX arrived later than promised. Could you please fix the issue through your shipping promise? Thank you very much.”

The Paribus mobile app

In addition to their desktop site, Paribus also offers a mobile app. However it’s fairly limited in its functionality, mostly just showing past purchases and whether they arrive one time/offer price protection. The only other tab is Settings, where you can view linked accounts, adjust notification preferences, and scroll through FAQs.

Personally, I prefer the desktop experience — but I suppose this mobile version could come in handy to some users.

My Experience with Paribus

To be completely honest, this section should really be called “My Experience with Paribus (or lack thereof).” Despite signing up for the service nearly a year ago, I’ve never been able to use it to file for a refund. That’s mostly because I’ve only purchased from one non-Amazon retailer they offer tracking for. Still, I have had the chance to explore some functions of the site.

One thing I should note is that my first efforts to add my Amazon account to Paribus didn’t go as planned. After each attempt, it would be pending for some time, only to eventually change to “Try Again” or “Wrong Credentials” (even though I confirmed everything was correct). To their credit, after I dropped an email to Paribus, the issue was quickly fixed. Since then the Amazon functionality has worked just fine — it’s just that all of my deliveries have been on time.

Something else I wanted to mention is that, when logging into Paribus, is seems that Capital One has been pushing another one of their acquired services: WikiBuy. I’ve heard about this browser extension thanks to their incessant YouTube ads but wasn’t aware it was owned by Capital One until recently. In any case, the connection made me interested in finally giving the plug a try. That’s because the ad for WikiBuy on Paribus is actually kind of clever, showing that there’s more to unlock by joining the sister service:

Going back to Paribus itself, I will give them props for the design of the site. Typically past purchases are accompanied by images, making it easy to scroll through and find the item you’re looking for. Therefore I could definitely see the service holding value for those who do shop at multiple retailers and want to see their purchases in one place.

Final Thoughts on Paribus

From what I can tell, the idea behind Paribus is solid. However this seems like a case where forces beyond the company’s control have negatively impacted their service. As a result, I have yet to fully put Paribus to the test despite signing up for it nearly a year ago. Therefore it seems like a lot of access you’re granting for not much payoff.

At the same time I acknowledge that part of the problem is on my end, seeing as I just don’t shop at many of the available online retailers all that often. This is seemingly confirmed by the many positive reviews I’ve read of the service over the years. Then again, that “over the years” part may be key as the loss of Amazon price protection seems to have really stung the service.

Overall I have nothing against Paribus, can see the value it offers others,  and honestly wish I could put it to use. Instead, I think I’ll be trying their sister app Wikibuy and seeing how that works out for me — so stay tuned for that review down the road.


Also published on Medium.

Author

Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and has recently starting publsihing his own personal finance blog at https://moneyat30.com/

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The idea is clever, but I guess I would not ask for a refund, unless the price so drastically dropped after I purchased it, which I guess selsom would happen.

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