Financial services provider Capital One has acquired Paribus, an automated price tracking startup that helps shoppers obtain automatic refunds when the price of an item purchased from an e-commerce site goes down.
After a consumer signs up for Paribus, the service scans the member's email inbox for receipts of online purchases, then monitors the item at the retailer from which it was bought to determine if the price drops within the time window of the merchant's price adjustment claim policy.
Paribus, which is only 16 months old, already has 700,000 users and tracks prices across a range of retailer platforms including Amazon, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, TechCrunch reports.
Paribus seems to be growing at a phenomenal rate for a very small company, and probably needed this sort of deal to happen now. With 700,000 users, you have to wonder how many other big companies may have had an eye on acquiring the firm sooner or later.
Perhaps it is doing so well because we're living in some deal-crazy times. Prices are always on the move, and it you are waiting for the last possible price drop before you buy a product, you will probably never buy it at all. There are many websites now, such as RetailMeNot and Shop It to Me, which do a nice job of helping consumers find the lowest possible price or the best deal, but there are not so many options for consumers to keep an eye on dropping prices at retailers where they recently have purchased products. That's the space the Paribus is filling.
While it might seem retailers would not be fond of a service that makes such quick work of helping consumers get the refunds they have a right to request under individual store price adjustment policies, there's actually a lot to like here for merchants, too. As Paribus points out, the alternative to paying a customer a partial refund might be the shopper returning the product, which is a more expensive and undesirable proposition for retailers.
The entire 12-person Paribus team is expected to join Capital One, though the larger company is planning to run Paribus under the startup's own name. It will be interesting to see how Capital One puts this little juggernaut to work: Paribus seems to be getting into the monitoring of credit card price protection policies, which like retailer price adjustment policies represent something difficult for individual consumers to track, but which they certainly would like to take advantage of. This certainly sounds like a project Capital One might want it to put on the front burner.