Suspicious Sites

Suspicious Sites: Big Crumbs

April 02, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
FindingDulcinea's mission is to cut through the clutter on the Web and spotlight sites that matter. Our new feature, Suspicious Sites, shines its high beams on sites we think you should be wary of. We’ll explain exactly what our concerns are, and offer better alternatives.

The Skinny

Big Crumbs asks you to do all of your online shopping at its affiliated merchants through the Big Crumbs site and get all your friends and relatives to do the same. The site pays you a small percentage of your purchases, and smaller amounts of cash for your friends’ purchases. The more referrals you have, the more you get paid.  While Big Crumbs has been around for several years, it seems to have relaunched last fall. Many bloggers report they have received checks from Big Crumbs, but this is no assurance of future payment.

The Suspicion

Is it legitimate? The first thing we look for on every site is the section that says who owns and operates the site. But Big Crumbs doesn’t provide any meaningful information about its staff. Oh, they require you to divulge your name, e-mail address, home address, and more when registering, but the most detail you’ll find about them in the “Who We Are” section of the site is beyond vague: “ was founded by a group of Atlanta-based software engineers—folks with ‘regular’ jobs, whom the world might call ‘successful.’” That hardly inspires our trust.  The section does offer a few small crumbs to convince the skeptics, such as telling us about a corporate parent that has been in existence since 1998.  But merely existing doesn’t make you legit, and we couldn’t find much information about this supposed parent, either. 

One more red flag arose from our blog search on Big Crumbs; there are hundreds of effusively positive reviews.  Many of the reviews are motivated by bloggers who want you to become part of their payout chain, and most of the rest appear to be part of an orchestrated campaign to win your trust.  It didn’t win ours.

The Solution

Big Crumbs can begin to soothe our suspicions by replacing the shady marketing copy on its “Who We Are” page with names and bios of the management team and board of directors, a real corporate address, and a phone number. And if it wants us to rely on the good name of its corporate parent, it should give us the information for that company as well.  But frankly, we would not recommend signing up with Big Crumbs, and convincing all your friends and family to do the same, without a verifiable guarantee of payment from a substantial outside organization.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of cash-back and rewards sites on the Web that are established and much more transparent than Big Crumbs. Among our favorites are Ebates and Upromise. Visit the findingDulcinea Bargain Hunting Web Guide to learn more about them and other online rewards programs you can trust.

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