Mystery of the Gas Rebate

May 18th, 2009 by Editor B

We recently let our Better World membership lapse. I like Better World and recommend them to anyone shopping for an auto club, but our insurer offers roadside assistance at a price that can’t be beat.

I heard about Better World through Car Talk back when I used to listen to NPR. (Another Katrina casualty. After the storm I was only interested in local news. Though lately I’ve found myself sneaking surreptitious listens to All Things Considered when I’m in the car.) Better World is supposed to be an eco-friendly alternative to AAA, and I suppose they are.

But there’s one aspect of the Better World program that always mystified me. Actually I don’t know if it was offered by them directly. It might be a side benefit.

I’m talking about their gas rebate program. It’s exactly what it sounds like. You get rebates on the gas you buy. Every year they send you a sheet of four little forms, one for each quarter. The forms can be returned, along with receipts proving gas had been purchased, to a shadowy outfit somewhere in Florida. For each form returned you get a check for $10.

What’s especially weird, to my way of thinking, is they didn’t even require a minimum amount you had to spend, or minimum number of purchases, and in fact they accepted receipts which couldn’t even be clearly identified as being for gasoline. I mean, one time I sent in a generic receipt for a cash purchase without any identifying information of place or time or product — they accepted that, and sent me a check for $10.

Does that make any sense at all? I couldn’t figure it. Still can’t. Who would pay people to consume gas? Or does this actually have anything to do with gas? Where does this money come from? Is it some sort of nefarious scam, or perhaps a super-rich crazy guy who loves to collect receipts?

There was precious little explanation on the forms themselves. Nothing to explain the rationale.

I’ve got my final check for $10 sitting in front of me now. When I cash it, I guess I’m off the gravy train.

Or am I? There appears to be some sort of program at GasRebate.net though I’ll be damned if I can figure it out either. Their FAQ doesn’t answer the most glaring and obvious question: Who’s paying for this and why?

So why all the mystery? Can someone please explain this to me? It’s making my brain hurt.

6 Responses to “Mystery of the Gas Rebate”

  1. Simon Dorfman Says:

    after doing a WHOIS lookup of gasrebate.net and then another WHOIS lookup of myfreetravel.com, then googling “steven horwitz incentive travel services”, I came to his linked in profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevenhorwitz

    i’d guess the gasrebate is some sort of marketing scam. they make money by collecting information and selling it to companies perhaps?

    hmmm, just went to the registration page and saw that I couldn’t view the terms and conditions until I put in a serial number. and it mentions sending in the form with a registration fee (if any).

    maybe they send out direct mail with a unique serial number and temp people with “free” gas then get them to pay a registration fee?

  2. Editor B Says:

    I actually exchanged e-mails with Mr. Horwitz myself yesterday. I posed my burning question. His reply was “This is a promotional offer sponsored by participating merchants and the gas companies. You must have a certificate from a participating merchant in order to participate.” Which of course doesn’t answer my question at all.

    Curiously enough, you can view the terms and conditions on the site by entering any number in the box. Apparently any number greater than zero will do.

    http://www.repsites.us/gasrebate/terms.cfm?Serial=666
    http://www.repsites.us/gasrebate/terms.cfm?Serial=123

    But non-numeric values yield the error message: “Serial Number did not match any existing campaigns and programs.”

    Curious.

  3. Brian Says:

    They are affliated through myfreetravel.com and claimyourvisacards.com. I’m doing it right now…..you have to follow every single rule or you will be disqualified. Most would consider it a scam.

  4. Mary Says:

    Yes, there are many rules to be followed and I have participated in this program. The concept makes sense in that you have to pick a brand of gas and purchase at least $100 each month and then submit your receipts at the end of the month to qualify for a $25 gift card. This is really supposed to be a “brand loyalty” program and I feel that the brand would be willing to have a loyal buyer for the life of the program – 20 months. All that said, I have been submitting qualified receipts for the program since August 2009 and am yet to receive anything. I have repeatedly contacted them and get a run-around excuse. Last excuse was that they have had too many people submit to the program and they are processing them as fast as possible, but they will not provide any date in which I should expect the very first gift card. Definitely a scam. Beware!

  5. Editor B Says:

    All very interesting, but I’d like to point out the program I participated in, the program I was writing about mainly, was *not* a loyalty program. You could buy any gas you wanted! Any amount! And I got my ten bucks every time. It makes no sense at all.

  6. elsa Says:

    This is a good warning for me. I particapted in “donate your old car” for a non profit cause and get voucher for free traved for 2 days and $300 gas rebate program. My free travel is asking that i send a check for $15.00 for registration and GasRebate.net is also asking the same. I have been visiting gasrebate.net for the past week and it keeps giving me ” ..under constructio..come back later” sign. SCAM SCAM SCAM

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