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Microsoft will pay you to use their search engine. I’m not kidding.
I know it sounds like that “Bill Gates Is Sharing His Fortune!” e-mail hoax many years ago that said that AOL and Microsoft were going to pay you money to forward this message, but it’s not like that at all.
I was casually shopping around on EBay to see what lenses were out for my camera. I was particularly interested in something along the lines of the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 or the Sigma 18-50 f2/.8 for a little versatility on the wide side in low light situations. As I was reading up on one auction the seller mentioned that the current promotion from Microsoft Live would enable the winner of his auction to save 25% if they were to use the Buy It Now option and pay through Paypal as part of the Microsoft Live Search Cashback Program.
This sounded interesting. I was pretty sure that I would, at some point, purchase the lens once I could justify the cost and the idea of saving 25% pushed the acquisition further into the realm of feasibility for a more immediate purchase.
I did my research and the cash back program is real, as are the discounts.
Basically, once I determined which lens I wanted (I decided upon the Tamron SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 Di II LD) and looked around on EBay to see if I could find one at a competitive price being sold by an EBay member that could be trusted.
The lens retails anywhere from $428 to $475 on average. After hunting a bit I found one for $440 which was in the right price range BEFORE the discount and about what a reasonable person would expect to pay for this hardware.
Once I located the lens I wanted I put it on my watch list in EBay and then browsed over to live.com to execute my search. I used the word Tamron and looked for the cashback option in the results. This is what that looks like:
Note that this one says 10%. When I did it the search result came back with a 25% link to EBay and when this promotion started the discounts were as high as 35%.
I clicked the link and once I was on the EBay site via that link I was basically locked in to the cashback option so I went to my watch list and clicked on the lens I had found earlier and bought it with the Buy It Now option and checked out via Paypal earning myself a $110 discount. On top of that, the auction I won included FREE shipping and a FREE UV filter so that saved me some additional moolah.
The catch is that you pay the seller the full amount and then you get a message in your EBay mailbox telling you that you’ve earned cash back. You click the link and sign up with Microsoft to receive your cash rewards. There’s a delay of about a week before the funds come available to make sure you don’t get the money and then return the item.
The limit is three item purchases per account and a maximum discount of $250 per item. That means if you had $3000 to spend on stuff you already planned on buying, Microsoft would pay you $750 to do it via their search engine. Not a bad deal. They paid me $110 to purchase a lens I was already planning to buy.
Sadly, the largest discount I have seen since I made this purchase is a paltry 10%, but you never know what tomorrow (or later this evening) might bring.