Feeds

Microsoft search bribery machine refuses to pay up

eBayers meet NoPayPal

Application security programs and practises

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."

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Do YOU work at Microsoft? Um. Are you SURE about that?
Nokia and marketing types first to get the bullet, says report
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
Big Blue Apple: IBM to sell iPads, iPhones to enterprises
iOS/2 gear loaded with apps for big biz ... uh oh BlackBerry
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.