How One Company’s Rotten Customer Service Seeded My Dream – the Pocket Your Dollars Rewards Story

This content uses referral links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.

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!)

Lesson Learned

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.

Comments

    • says

      Curt – You are always so kind. Thank you. You're an oldie around here…in terms of having been around a long time, not talking about age, right? ;) I *think* you started following Pocket Your Dollars sometime in 2009, didn't you?

  1. Sherry says

    Carrie:

    I've followed you for about two years now, and this is why I totally trust and always recommend this site to others. It is my motto to "always do the right thing, no matter what". You've helped me save so much money and provide such a wonderful resource. Thank you. May PYD and your new Rewards program continue to bless you!

    Sherry

  2. Cheri A says

    Thanks for sharing the story of how you got to this point. I agree with the others that this is why I love this site and this community. You are trustworthy and do the right thing. I haven't been as active here lately because I'm just not couponing as much as I used to. I do still come here often and look at the lists that you and your wonderful team put together, though.

    I have not really done a lot of online ordering through those other cash-back sites, but I did sign up for PYD Rewards on the first day. The holidays are coming, we have lots of out-of-town birthdays, and so I will come here first if I am going to order something online now.

  3. Lauren says

    Not sure how long ago we discovered this site, but it has really helped us refine our grocery shopping habits. More recently we have taken advantage of many of your other deals too. You've proven to be a reliable site for saving money and I had no hesitation in signing up for the rewards too! I know I can count on getting the straight scoop. Loved the story!

  4. Jennifer M. says

    Thanks for sharing the story, Carrie. I have been a faithful Pocketeer since August 2009. Time and time again you have proven you are above reproach when it comes to doing the right thing, which is one of the many reasons PYD has remained my go-to money saving site. Many continued thanks to you and your staff for all you do for all us Pocketeers!!

  5. Kathleen says

    Thanks, Carrie, for the story, the cash back site, and PYD! :-) I haven't been checking in as much as I used to, due to being unemployed and broke. But I have loved your site for a couple of years. Like the others have said, I feel I can totally trust you, in that you wouldn't steer us wrong. Seeing your occasional local tv appearances has been nice, too. It's nice to come back here, knowing I have a fabulous place to go, one I look forward to using more often once I get a new job! Many, many thanks for all you do, and for your commitment to always doing the right thing! :-D Best wishes.

  6. Chrissy Carlson says

    I want to add my thanks to you as well! I started couponing a little over a year ago and when I came across your site I was thrilled! Finally, a place I can go to that is relatively local (I live in NW Wisconsin & border jump to the cities all the time) for coupon match-ups! Your site is the first place I go to when planning my Rainbow trips. I don't shop online very often at all but I will check out your rewards site. I love sharing your site with anyone who is interested in couponing–I have saved so much at a time when it's been sorely needed! I've gotten my average up to 70% and it feels so empowering! Thank you so much for the work that you do!

Speak Your Mind

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *