Paribus touts itself as a “revolutionary” way to save money while shopping online, but is it too good to be true? That’s the primary question I sought to answer when I signed up for the service on behalf of Team Clark.
Paribus offers the convenience of automated price-checking at popular online merchants to ensure you’ve purchased products at the best possible price. And it’s free.
That’s a headache solved for a price I can digest, but there are some privacy concerns attached to Paribus that could give some users cold feet.
Team Clark reviews the Paribus app
We’ll assess whether the required concessions on personal information, including access to your email account, are worth the potential money saved by using the product.
In addition to answering all of your questions about the service, I’ll be offering you my personal experiences with Paribus throughout the article.
Table of contents
- What is Paribus and how does it work?
- Is Paribus safe to use?
- Which online retailers are eligible for savings via Paribus?
- How is Paribus different than Earny?
- Does Paribus actually save you money?
- How does Paribus make money?
- How does the BBB rate Paribus?
1. What is Paribus and how does it work?
Paribus, which is owned by Capital One, uses proprietary technology to scan your email address for online purchase confirmations and then checks those receipts to determine if you’ve received that product at the best possible price.
If you have the best price, it will continue to monitor the price of the product and will notify you of any future price drops.
If you didn’t get the best price, that’s where Paribus attempts to work its magic. With some retailers, Paribus will send an automated email to the business requesting a refund of the price difference on your behalf. With others, it simply will send you a notification suggesting you pursue an attempt at getting your money back on your own.
Paribus also has a delivery monitoring service that searches for packages that are delivered after the promised date from the retailer in an attempt to hold the business accountable.
For example, if you ordered an item from Amazon Prime with guaranteed two-day shipping and it took three business days for the delivery to be made, that would be something Paribus would track for potential compensation.
Once you have signed up for Paribus, you will be able to access your personal account dashboard through their website. There, you’re able to track the progress of Paribus’s research into your online merchant receipts.
When I signed up, Paribus went back through my email account and pulled out a handful of Amazon receipts to track whether or not they were delivered on time. In my case, all of the deliveries were made as promised, and Paribus indicated that correctly on the dashboard. As a result, there was no claim to make.
It is worth noting that Paribus warns users that a change in Amazon policy now prohibits the app from sending an email to Amazon on your behalf.
I was hoping that some of my old receipts from online merchants like Best Buy, Walmart and Target would trigger some sort of money-saving opportunity when I signed up, but there was nothing to be found.
So far, Paribus has not presented me with a chance to retrieve money on old purchases.
2. Is Paribus safe to use?
Honestly, the answer to this probably depends on your personal online risk threshold.
Paribus offers its services free of charge, but it requires that you grant access to your email account in the process.
For some readers, that understandably will be a huge red flag when it comes to online safety. In fact, if I were not writing this article, it likely would have been a deal-breaker for my usage of the service.
But for Paribus to do the “work” it has promised for your online purchases, it must be able to scan your email account for receipts as they arrive in your inbox.
When you arrive on the Paribus homepage, the very first step of the signup process requires that you allow third-party access to either your Google, Yahoo or Microsoft-based email account.
Want to use Paribus without granting them access to your email? Can’t do it.
Have another email service you’d like to use instead? You’re out of luck for now. Paribus explains why:
“In order to optimize security for our users going forward, Paribus only allows sign ups with Gmail, Yahoo or Microsoft email accounts. We are able to use a tokenized log in flow, which helps ensure your email can only be used for the permissions you agree to. This means that Paribus never needs to store your actual log in credentials.”
When faced with this reality, I proceeded with a Gmail account that I use for purchases through Amazon and other online retailers in hopes that it would pay off.
Google’s automated fraud prevention didn’t like that at all. I was immediately met with warnings from Google about the dangers of third-party access both on my phone and in my email inbox.
Paribus also provided links to its terms of service and privacy statement during the signup process. I suggest getting comfortable and familiar with both before proceeding.
For information on what third-party access to your email account actually includes, visit the settings of your individual email provider. In my case, Google offered me some information on third-party access to my Gmail account.
If you are looking to remove Paribus’ access to your account, that should be possible with your email provider. I checked with Google on removing access and was provided this link that offers the following steps for removing access:
- Go to your Google Account.
- On the left navigation panel, select Security.
- On the Third-party apps with account access panel, select Manage third-party access.
- Select the site or app you want to remove.
- Select Remove Access.
3. Which online retailers are eligible for savings via Paribus?
Paribus touts that it monitors more than 25 mainstream online merchants, including the following:
- Banana Republic
- Bed, Bath & Beyond
- Best Buy
- Crate & Barrel
- Home Depot
- J. Crew
- L.L. Bean
- Neiman Marcus
- New Egg
- Office Depot
- Old Navy
- Saks Fifth Avenue
You will want to visit the Paribus policy guide for each of these merchants, as the rules for getting money back from each will vary.
4. How is Paribus different than Earny?
The biggest difference between the competing price protection apps is that Earny is a subscription service. The monthly plan is $7.99 while the yearly plan is $47.99. There is a lite version of Earny that simply charges a 25% finders fee for uncovering money through price protection. For example, if Earny found that you were entitled to $20, the company will want $5 for its service.
While Paribus and Earny do work with some of the same major retailers like Walmart and Target, Paribus touts more than 25 major retailers while Earny’s list numbers just 15.
Earny offers a limited amount of purchase protection claims via most Mastercard providers. This means the user can link their credit card directly to their Earny account to receive price protection on all purchases.
Earny also offers hotel price protection after booking a reservation, which is a nice perk for those of us who constantly sweat over whether we secured the best deal for business travel or vacation.
5. Does Paribus actually save you money?
Yes, it most definitely can. But I have yet to see any savings of significance in my short personal experience with the service. Granted, I’m usually pretty particular about price shopping prior to making a purchase, so I’m probably not the ideal candidate for quick, meaningful results.
Be aware that Paribus requests a 48-hour period to review all receipts already in your inbox after signing up for the service. There won’t be any instant gratification.
Finally, keep in mind that even if Paribus identifies a way to save you money, you may still have to do much of the legwork on getting the refund granted by an individual company.
6. How does Paribus make money?
We’ve established that Paribus proclaims its primary goal is to save consumers money — free of charge. Following a 2016 acquisition by Capital One, it is plausible that the parent company now sees it as a value-added service.
However, it should be considered that Paribus can make profit through targeted advertisements within its user interface.
Keep in mind that access to your email account also could give the company the ability to mine your account for useful data and information.
7. How does the Better Business Bureau (BBB) rate Paribus?
The Better Business Bureau rates Paribus as an “A,” which means it has a score between 94 and 96.99 on the bureau’s 100-point grading scale. However, the business is not “BBB accredited” and has one-star reviews from three customers that date back to 2016.
Chief consumer concerns appear to be about the level of access to email accounts and a lack of purchases eligible for refund.
Final thoughts on Paribus
Earning money on items that you’ve already purchased is a pretty attractive concept for those who love to save a buck or two whenever possible.
This app offers shortcuts on ways to do that, and does not charge a fee in the process. That’s solid, but it comes at a cost in personal online security.
Many people are skeptical of programs like this because they can easily be construed as a ploy to collect your personal information, but I’d stop well short of calling Paribus a scam.
If you can get past the valid concerns about allowing email account access, Paribus is worth a trial run to see how much money you can collect.