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Cashback website rapped over ‘misleading’ ads

John Fitzsimons
Written By:
John Fitzsimons

Cashback website Quidco has been ordered not to repeat “misleading” claims in its advertising by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Complaints were raised by rival cashback site TopCashback over claims Quidco made on its own site and on Facebook about being the UK’s “highest-paying cashback site”.

Quidco defended the claims, pointing to its ‘highest cashback guarantee’. This is where if members of the site make a purchase, and then find a higher cashback rate being offered by a different cashback site, Quidco will then match that higher rate plus an additional amount on top.

This defence didn’t cut the mustard with the ASA however. The ASA argued that this promise did not in fact guarantee that Quidco always paid the highest rate of cashback, and was therefore irrelevant. 

In its ruling, the ASA stated: “Because consumers would understand the claim “the UK’s highest paying cashback” website/service to mean that Quidco ensured they always paid a higher amount of cashback compared to their competitors, and that was not the case, we concluded the claims in ads (a) and (b) were misleading and had not been substantiated.”

As a result, Quidco has been ordered not to make the claims in their advertising again, unless they have sufficient information to support them.

Getting money back on your spending

Despite the spat, it’s important to recognise the benefits offered by using a cashback website.

The idea is incredibly simple. When you want to shop online, rather than go to the retailer website directly, you first head to your cashback website of choice. If the cashback site has a partnership with that retailer, you can follow a tracked link over to the store and then spend as usual.

You then get a percentage of that spend back in the form of cashback.

On the face of it, the amounts involved might seem fairly small ‒ 1% or 2% here and there. But doing it every time you shop means that the cashback quickly adds up to far more substantial amounts, with some users of Quidco and TopCashback reporting ‘earning’ back hundreds of pounds each year simply by making that one small tweak to their shopping habits.

Both of the big sites have free membership tiers too, while there are paid tiers which come with additional perks like faster payments and additional customer support.

While Quidco and TopCashback are the big names, they certainly aren’t the only options, with some rival sites presenting cashback in a different way. For example one site launched last year promising to use the cashback earned as a way to repay the mortgage more quickly.

Much like using a cashback credit card, it’s a smart way to get something back for the money you were planning to spend anyway. However, it’s important not to let the cashback on offer influence your spending decisions ‒ there may be little point in spending more on an item from one retailer simply because they pay a greater rate of cashback.