Feeds

Microsoft search bribery machine refuses to pay up

eBayers meet NoPayPal

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Updated Microsoft's search bribery machine is on the fritz. Again.

Last May, in a desperate bid to catch the uncatchable Google, Redmond began bribing people to use its third-rate search engine, Live Search. If you use Live Search ads to find and buy certain stuff, Microsoft will return a portion of the purchase price. They call it cashback.

Some of that stuff is sold through eBay. And when eBayers use the bribery machine, Microsoft promises the cashback will appear in their PayPal accounts within 60 days. But according to reports from across the web, the company isn't always keeping that promise.

Typically, when a Live Search-fueled eBay purchase is made, a record of the cashback will immediately appear in the user's PayPal account. But the user is told the cash can't be accessed until those 60 days have passed. Presumably, this is a means of preventing people from returning items after pocketing the cash. But even after the 60 days roll by, some uses still can't access the funds. When they try, they receive the following message:

We’ve encountered a problem depositing your cashback reward into the PayPal account that you used for your eBay purchase. But we will keep trying.

Microsoft has yet to respond to a request for comment. But one user says that when they contacted Microsoft's support minions, the company admitted there's a system-wide problem with PayPal deposits.

Microsoft tells the WalletPop blog that the issue should be corrected by February 9.

On the day after Thanksgiving, typically regarded as one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, the bribery machine buckled under the weight of too many shoppers and disappeared from the web for several hours. In some cases, users also complained that Redmond wasn't returning as much as it said it would.

In the early days of the bribery machine, eBayers noticed they could game the system by selling $630 in cash for $714. But Microsoft says it has ways of stopping this.

"With any program of this type that has a lot of early buzz and provides significant value to consumers, there comes the risk of inappropriate uses or even fraudulent activities," the company told us.

"eBay and Microsoft have therefore incorporated various levels of abuse and fraud mitigation techniques throughout the program. We’re committed to providing a positive Live Search cashback experience for consumers and are actively working with eBay to identify, correct and prevent isolated incidents of inappropriate use of this program." ®

Update

Microsoft has acknowledged its cashback snafu and is indeed working to solve it. "While we regret the delay of Live Search cashback payments between Jan. 29 and Feb. 1, we’ve investigated the issue and have taken steps to correct it," says Stefan Weitz, Microsoft's director of Live Search. "More than 90 percent of the customers affected will receive payouts to their PayPal account today. We are working directly with the remainder of impacted customers to walk them through the steps required to receive their cash back."

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder
And now a message from our sponsors: 'STFU or else'
Why has the web gone to hell? Market chaos and HUMAN NATURE
Tim Berners-Lee isn't happy, but we should be
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.