Ask Andy: Should I complain about cashback?

Cashback can be fantastic – but also frustrating. Is it worth complaining when there’s a better deal or something goes wrong?

The question

Dear Andy,

I am a deal fanatic and passionately hate paying full price for things. I love your website, and think you are a genius!

You wrote couple of articles about complaining effectively and how they might save us money.

I have signed up for a Plusnet broadband deal back in 19th April, 2015. They were offering £2.50/m broadband (£9.99 normally) and £50 cashback for 1Y contract. I opted for the line rental saver and saved around £30 there.

There was a14-day cancellation policy which ended on 5th May so technically I am locked in for a year now although the broadband went live only on May 7th!

Just checked and the cashback has been increased to £100 now which makes the deal even sweeter. My question, would you complain about the increased cashback? If yes, how to proceed?

I am fully aware they might not budge.  I am satisfied with the deal I got, but it doesn’t hurt to try.


Andy says

I’m really glad you like the site! 

It’s a good question. I’ve tried complaining about cashback and had mixed results. 

Cashback rates do change regularly and normally have fixed start and end dates. Because of this I think you’d be told no. But like you say it’s worth giving it a go. 

Some shops (such as John Lewis) will refund the difference if prices go down soon after buying something – of course you have to ask first! As the cashback was direct from Plusnet it’s worth trying as you might find they have a similar policy.

When cashback is through a company like Quidco or Topcashback, I think it’s even less likely. 

The cashback sites are just the agents for the main retailer. If the retailer registers Topcashback or Quidco as the referer of a sale, it’ll pay the cashback site a fee, a percentage of which is then passed on to you. They’ll argue that the rate offered was for a promotional period.

It’s a different matter if your cashback doesn’t ‘track’ at all or tracks at the wrong rate.

It’s easy to put in a complaint about either of these – and most of the time I’ve been able to get the rate of cashback increased to the correct level.

To help, I’ll always take a screen grab of the deal when I buy something big. By the time the money comes through it’s easy to forget how much you should have, so it’s a useful reminder.

I’ve actually only had a cashback claim rejected once. The retailer said the last click was from elsewhere. The response to my complaint took so long to come through I couldn’t be 100% sure there wasn’t another window open. I’m pretty hot at making sure the cashback site is my last click but mistakes can happen – which is why you can miss out. 

The big thing to remember is never treat cashback as a guarantee, and if you can’t afford something without the extra money, don’t buy it.

Having said that, I think cashback sites are brilliant and well worth using. Here’s my Andy’s Amazing Savings review of Topcashback with more information.


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