University of Texas Co-op cancels rebate program, paves way for new discount member program

Madelyn Reiter

The University Co-op will discontinue its rebate program starting March 1 in preparation for a new purchase discount member program.

The rebate program, which gives current UT students and faculty a 10 percent rebate on purchases in the form of store credit, will be terminated because of its unpopularity. The membership program, replacing the rebate program, should be more favorable amongst students, said Co-op marketing manager Kate Thrower.

“In surveying faculty and talking to students, we realized that the people using the rebate program were declining, along with its uses,” Thrower said. “People were confused about the process.”

The current rebate program requires students and faculty to create an account online and track their Co-op purchases through past receipts. The complicated process has deterred students from taking advantage of the program.

“I’ve never used it because I heard it was a super long process,” economics junior Tiffany Koo said. “You don’t get much back from it, and I’ve bought a lot of stuff from the Co-op.”

Co-op administrators believe the rebate program, which has been around since the Co-op’s founding in 1896, is outdated and can be replaced with something more beneficial to students. As a non-profit, the Co-op strives to serve its owners, students and faculty to the best of its abilities, Thrower said. The Co-op Board collectively agreed that a discount program would be more valuable to students.

“The low adoption of this program is not meeting our mission to improve the lives of students, faculty and staff,” President and CEO Cheryl Phifer said. “After review, the Co-op Board voted to replace the rebate with a benefit for all owners in the form of a purchase discount program.”

The new program will offer members immediate discounts rather than prolonged savings resulting in more visible benefits for students and faculty.

“This is an effort to make it easier,” Thrower said. “Instead of a delayed benefit that a rebate provides, the membership program will have an upfront discount.”

Details about the membership program have not been released yet, as Co-op staff are going through a budgeting process, but the program is expected to launch in the fall. Students wanting to take advantage of the rebate program before it’s over must upload receipts for purchases made within this school year by Feb. 28.