Earlier this week we launched our own cash back shopping site called Pocket Your Dollars Rewards (yes, we are still offering the $2 signup bonus). It’s the manifestation of a long-standing dream. As a storyteller by nature, I thought you might like to hear the story. I hope it inspires you to stick with whatever you desire in your heart.
In 2009 I started PocketYourDollars.com as a hobby to help some friends and family make it through the Great Recession. I was working full-time as COO for an area non-profit. I had a 2.5 month old and a not-quite-2-year-old at home. My husband stayed home with the kids by day, then went to graduate school at night. I had just gotten word that I’d be laid off in a few months.
Around that same time I discovered a now-defunct cash back shopping site called Cashbaq. I started using it when I’d shop online, then telling others about it in some of my blog posts.
By the time Christmas 2009 rolled around, PocketYourDollars.com had a growing audience. I had scaled from full-time to part-time in my job and had a few weeks left until my layoff on January 10, 2010. That entire holiday season I worked as hard as I could to help families have a wonderful holiday on a tight budget which included consistent promotion of my then-favorite cash back site, Cashbaq.
I continued to promote the site through Christmas 2010.
The Cashbaq Debacle
Then, something very disturbing happened. In January 2011 a Pocketeer left a comment on one of my blog posts. It said something to the effect of, “I joined Cashbaq at your recommendation and my check has been marked as ‘in process’ for weeks, but I haven’t gotten it. I cannot reach their customer service people either.” Uh oh. Cashbaq folded and stiffed all kinds of Pocketeers (and other people too, but my primary concern was for those I’d encouraged to join).
I felt sick in my stomach. I value the trust that you place in this website more than you know. I felt like I let the Pocket Your Dollars’ community down (you might think that’s an exaggeration, but remember this is my small business and I care about it and about you a lot. I think about it a lot). I knew what to do.
After talking with my husband I decided to make good on every Pocketeers’ outstanding Cashbaq balance. I wrote a check to each Pocketeer who contacted me about having been stiffed. I made good on it for them. (PS – some months later Ebates bought Cashbaq’s list and Ebates made good on all of Cashbaq’s outstanding debts too. Pocketeers got double blessed in the end, which is fine with me!)
After Cashbaq folded and people I’d referred were hurt, I decided I want my own cash back site. Shortly thereafter I considered a partnership with a large publicly traded company that would provide a very cool looking shopping experience. But I couldn’t bring myself to sign the contract. Something didn’t seem right. They were supposed to issue payments, which was too complicated for me to want to handle, but I was afraid. What if they stiffed people and now the brand had my name on it? The thought literally nauseated me. I walked away.
But, every time I’d mention a cash back site on PocketYourDollars.com I’d wish I had my own. Yes, I trust the two sites I’d decided to actively promote, but still. In a control-freak/mama bear sort of way I wanted to be 100% sure that Pocket Your Dollars’ readers would always get their money AND that they’d always get appropriate attention if they had an issue.
Pocket Your Dollars Rewards Becomes Reality
I’ve known Tricia Meyer since January 2010. In fact, when the Cashbaq debacle happened she was one of the business associates I communicated with. I was new to the industry that PocketYourDollars.com operates in (it’s called affiliate marketing). She was running a cash back and rewards site called Sunshine Rewards. She gave me some insight and advice during that time.
She’s been a leader in our industry. She routinely speaks at conferences, blogs about what she knows so others can benefit and takes time to answer my emails when I’d have newbie questions. She’s been commended for her ethical standards and publicly committed herself to operate a totally above-board, ethical business in an industry where there are sometimes creepy yucky things going on. I’ve admired her.
This summer I approached her about partnering together to create Pocket Your Dollars Rewards. I’ve got a commitment to an ethical cash back site. I’ve got a community of Pocketeers that want the best deals AND also want to play by the rules. She’s got the technical infrastructure and operational infrastructure to support it. She’s also an incredibly driven, get-up-and-go-why-are-we-still-sitting-here-when-we-could-be-taking-action-type of person.
Over the last number of weeks Tricia and her team have invested a lot of time to create the Pocket Your Dollars Rewards website. It’s solid in its tracking and payment process – which are the two most important things. We know it needs work in its look and feel, but that will come.
Moral of the Story
It was important to me that I share this story with you. I value transparency and wanted you to know where our Rewards site came from. I hope you are encouraged in your own path by my story. Always do the right thing, even if no one notices. Follow your gut and walk away if something doesn’t seem right. Hold on to your dream. Keep knocking on doors. Work your tail off when opportunity presents itself.
More than anything, I’m thrilled to offer real value to your family via Pocket Your Dollars Rewards. I hope the cash back you earn is a blessing to your family or to those around you.