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Microsoft ends Bing cashback rebates

Microsoft is retiring Bing cashback, the rebate option it launched to try to boost the use of its Web search engine.

Back when Microsoft launched cashback in May of 2008--originally called Live Search Cashback--it seemed like a good idea. The business model went something like this:

Phase one: Microsoft gets retailers to offer rebates to buyers who make purchases by clicking through its search results.
Phase two: Web users shop at Bing, knowing they'll get money back there.
Phase three: Those users continue shopping at those retailers' sites.
Phase four: Profit!

I took the bait and wound up collecting $26.31 in 2008 and 2009 from five purchases at Circuit City (R.I.P.), J&R Electronics and, with my rebates equaling from 3 percent to 5 percent of a product's sale price. I could have done without waiting for $5 of a cashback balance to accumulate in my account and then having to request a redemption, but otherwise I had little to complain about: The funds showed up promptly in my bank account and represented a real savings over prices I found at other sites.

But apparently not enough other buyers were interested in being bribed in this manner. In a posting today, Yusuf Mehdi, a Microsoft vice president, explained cashback's demise:

In lots of ways, this was a great feature - we had over a thousand merchant partners delivering great offers to customers and seeing great ROI on their campaigns, and we were taking some of the advertising revenue and giving it back to customers. But after a couple of years of trying, we did not see the broad adoption that we had hoped for.

A frequently-asked-questions page explains that Bing searchers have until July 30 to make purchases under this program; after then, the $5 redemption requirement will be waived on any remaining balances.

I suppose I'm part of the problem: I haven't used Bing cashback in a few months--in part because I'd completed a round of electronics upgrades last year and was happy to let somebody else prop up that industry for a change. How about you? Did you use cashback? Did you find it worthwhile? Or is this post the first you've heard of it?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 4, 2010; 2:12 PM ET
Categories:  Shopping  
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I used it on ebay once... got $30 off a used Dell i6400 laptop, which more than paid for shipping. The money was deposited into my paypal account within a couple weeks... ebay did not do a good job of making people aware of the option, though. I actually learned about how to do it in the ad for the laptop... had to back out and search for the laptop on bing, then follow the link with the special icon back to ebay, to get the discount.

Posted by: Darr247 | June 4, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

First I've heard of it, I'm a little embarrassed to say. It sounds like something I would have tried. Oh well.

I'm glad you mentioned J&R. A good company. Still hanging in there.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | June 4, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

I hope this makes Ballmer a little less arrogance.

--faye kane, homeless idiot savant
Read more of my smartmouth opinions at

Posted by: Knee_Cheese_Zarathustra | June 4, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

I didn't make 1 online purchase without checking Bing or BOA add-it-up.

If you are part of the slickdealer community,
Then it was nice to sometimes get up to 25% off your purchases including ebay.

Anyhow, ~$500 over 2 years was nice.

Posted by: Rocc00 | June 5, 2010 2:28 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, but no one can pay me to use M$'s search engine... I'd rather shop via other means, and go no where near their stuff.

Posted by: Nymous | June 5, 2010 6:34 AM | Report abuse

I discovered Bing Cashback earlier this year and saved big. My cashback totaled $109 in five transactions, but the associated deals were excellent also.

On one deal, I needed a new 22" TV. Local deals came in at $225. Online deals with a large retailer were closer to $200. The binbg cashback connection came in at $180 plus $40 in cashback.

I'd have to say that Microsoft did a lousy job of making the world aware of this program. I'm online an easy 6 hours per day and "somehow" managed to miss this opportunity for over 2 years?

Great program, lousy implementation, sorry to see it go.

Posted by: Whizbangsc | June 5, 2010 6:56 AM | Report abuse

I've never used Bing or the cashback feature.

As a rule, I don't use Microsoft products or services at all. I've been a happy Mac person since 1984 and I'm not inclined to change.

Some years back, PBS ran a documentary called "Triumph of the Nerds," which offered a history of the personal computer. Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were featured in the program and it cemented my "take" on them and their companies.

Jobs has always impressed me, as have his products and philosophy. Gates just leaves me cold.

Posted by: sdcafunnyguru | June 5, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I've used Bing quite a bit for saving money (thanks slickdeals) but I rarely used it as a general search engine. That's Google for me.

There's always FatWallet for cashback

Posted by: slackermom | June 5, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

@sdcafunnyguru Jobs could sell ice to an eskimo, and that's pretty much all he's doing with his skills.

Gates has moved on and is trying to solve some of the significant problems of the 3rd world.

Which man impresses you more today? Maybe Gates is just trying to rehabilitate his image as much as being altruistic, but I'll bet it's going to work. After all, what's the first thing you think of when you hear the name "Nobel"?

Posted by: libralibra1 | June 5, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

This is the first time I heard of that rebate program. Maybe their lack of success is just because of their lack of advertising it?

As of the search qualities of Bing, I have tried it for various searches and it gives results that are so far off from what I am looking for that I do not consider using it ever again.

Posted by: teplicky101 | June 5, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I, too, have never heard of the program.

As for Bing as a search engine I've tried using it four times. The relevance score for the results of all four attempts has been "0" for any conceivable reading of the search entry.

Just one more piece of c**p from MS.

Posted by: rsh43 | June 5, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

$900 for me, mostly from HP, Ebay and TigerDirect. I introduced all my friends to this program!

May be I should make it a full $1000 before it expires :-)

Posted by: unmesh | June 5, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I "earned" over $700 over the last couple of years. Best deal was around $100 bucks back on a purchase from AT&T -- which was my iPhone. Only discount on an iPhone available back then. I agree MS didn't do a very good job of promoting it. I mainly used it when I read on Slickdeals about a high promotional cashback award for a particular merchant. 40% + cashback was enough to entice me to make some purchases. The 2%- 5% stuff was less exciting. Bing Cashback was usually incompatible with other offers, so frequently skipping cashback and using a free shipping or other discount code was a better deal.

Posted by: stmdc | June 5, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Didn't hear about it and don't use bing.

Posted by: info22 | June 5, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

I have used it since last year when I first became aware of it. I like it and have saved about 130 over the last year. I am going to miss it. It was the best cash back site on the web. There is fat wallet and others but Bing was the best in terms of getting the largest cash refund.

Posted by: rahejl | June 6, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I never actually tried it either. I thought it was odd that MS spent a good amount of money advertising bing on TV but never mentioned that service in the ads.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | June 7, 2010 7:47 AM | Report abuse

I tried using Bing as a search engine a few times. When it gave me porn websites when I searched for specific recipes that in NO way were porn related, I stopped using Bing. I use several Microsoft products including hotmail and Windows, but, their search engine needs work!

Posted by: mdogsmom | June 7, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Interesting they shutdown for lack of user adoption, even with all those TV commercials. Good to hear people liked Bing Cashback.
Checkout our user friendly Bing Cashback alternative...

Posted by: moolacow | June 7, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

BING lost me right near the beginning when every web page I want to read started taking so much longer to load thanks to embedded BING links.

Now there are many copycats, all of them ruining the user experience the same way.

Many of the embdedded links have nothing to do with the report/article I'm reading, let alone the actualy underlined (hyperlinked) words(s).

I've never used a single one and never will. One of the worst ideas to come down the pike in a long time.

Posted by: lquarton | June 7, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Here's a great company that really seems to have the CashBack thing locked up tight. Anywhere from 2% - 35% CashBack (no limits) AND they pay 1/2% for referrals.

The Ultimate Shopper

Posted by: tedd2000 | June 8, 2010 1:35 AM | Report abuse

Sad day seeing Bing go. The model still works. All the more reason to compare the various other cash back options now. I typically check with

Posted by: mecca138 | June 8, 2010 3:57 AM | Report abuse

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