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 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.

Show Me The Money
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5 thoughts on “Show Me The Money

  • July 2, 2008 at 5:38 am

    So it’s not really “Bill Gates is sharing his fortune” so much as “Bill Gates is spending a tiny bit of his fortune trying to buy customers for his search engine.”

    Which is fine, and establishing yourself as “the search engine people use to buy things” is really great when it comes to selling advertising space.

    Is it any good as a search engine? What rank is Jay Lee on MLS?

  • July 2, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Not sure if it still works, but I think for a while folks were selling (themselves?) chunks of cash, which effectively resulted in MS paying you free money.

  • July 2, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Wow! 25% is a good chunk of change. Thanks for the tip!

  • July 6, 2008 at 9:09 am

    A feature they’ve recently added to MSN Live Messenger is the ability to pick from three different charitable organizations on a list that they provide and they will donate money to those organizations every time you send an IM on Messenger.

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