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Negative Cashback from Microsoft's Bing Cashback (bountii.com)
117 points by jpuskarich on Nov 23, 2009 | hide | past | favorite | 28 comments

But this could just be the vendor (not that I'm defending MS). It could easily be a different price for Google, and another for Yahoo, etc. It doesn't mean MS has any knowledge of this, although they could probably police it if it's affecting their reputation.

Your exactly right. Search for the same product using google shopping and it shows the higher price.

Ouch. This is why I usually buy everything from Amazon, instead of some random place that shows up in Google Shopping results.

I read a while back that Amazon does something very similar. They give new visitors a larger discount on certain items compared to regular visitors. Of course googling it now only returns http://www.theregister.co.uk/2000/09/06/amazon_makes_regular... so it may be bunk.

This is pretty old news. Amazon experimented with this briefly, caught alot of flak, and stopped.

I recently had an experience where I thought amazon was doing this - I'd get one price when signed in to prime and another cheaper price when not signed in. I called up amazon and the rep was astonished as she could see the exact same thing. A few minutes of digging and she figured out what happened. Amazon was showing me signed in the item shipped from amazon (candidate for prime) and showing me not signed in the item shipped from someone else. When shipping was added in, Amazon was always showing me the lowest price available. In both cases, I was presented an option to choose a different supplier, but it wasn't very prominent on the page.

I have gotten my money's worth with Prime, so I am not too concerned. I would be willing to pay slightly more than "suggested retail price" to have something delivered the same day I order it (as happens more and more frequently with Prime orders, even when I pick 2 day shipping), but Amazon does this and their prices are less than any retail store. So I am not going to complain.

(A few weeks ago, I needed a mini-USB cable. I ordered it at about 2am, and it was delivered around noon. All for $4.68...)

Vendors can easily beef up prices and give cash backs because they have to pay a "finders fee" to the engine line google, or anyone in fact. Evil!

I don't read John's post as an accusation of wrongdoing. He's just pointing out something that price-conscious consumers would want to know about.

Bountii is much more powerful than Froogle & Bing because prices aren't just X in one store and Y in another store. Bountii is all about helping price-conscious consumers get the deals most people don't find. Good for them for raising awareness of this new kind of price discrimination.

He asks if its even legal. That's an accusation of wrongdoing in my book.

No, it is a question. There is a substantial difference between asking a question and accusing someone of having done something illegal.

I'd go further and say that this is a shady blog post from the Bountii crew. If you're going to publicly accuse your competitors of something negative, it's incumbent upon you to be very certain that you're correct. I've emailed them a link to this comment section, and I hope to see this post edited as appropriate.

I don't know how true this is but http://www.butterflyphoto.com/prodinfo.phtml?id=3853&ref... shows gives me 699$. But I can't find it on Bing.

oh lol the HN police is on the move again!

It's not that difficult. Turn off your cookies. Manually allow them for the rare cases where they're actually necessary. If that's too much work for you, clear cookies or turn on your browser's "privacy" mode before you buy anything.

This sort of thing has gone on for years. You used to be able to find a good deal on a flight at orbitz.com, leave to go comparison shopping, come back, and see a higher price. Clear the cookies, the original price was back.

I wonder if a Firefox plugin could have a list of shopping aggregator sites (like Bing and google shopping) and automatically block referrers when using outgoing links from them, and maybe specially treat cookies being set by the sites those links land on?

In a way, this is why the EU's recent discussion on requiring permission to set cookies actually makes sense.

Aside from login, the vast majority of cookies on the web don't significantly benefit the user. The only reason I don't use a browser that ignores or prompts for cookies is that so many websites use them inappropriately these days, and the web would be unbrowsable without them.

If you're clever, you find the merchants affiliate scheme, sign up, check it's ok to place orders through your own affiliate links, and place an order.

Then there's no middle man and you get all the discount. Hassle for cheaper items, but worth it for bigger stuff.

I once signed up to get a 0% rate credit card (first 6 months) that gave cash back on purchases. I signed up through my affiliate link that paid out something like £40, had a few K of credit for 6 months, and got cashback on everything I bought using it. Then I cancelled it. I expect they hate customers like that.

I doubt they're giving you more in cashback than they make from transaction fees.

They might be. For every person that implements this trick, there are 100 more that are making only the minimum payment every month and paying thousands of dollars in interest (free money).

I thought that most credit card companies sold off this debt for Wall Street to repackage.

True, I'm pretty sure I was a nett loss for them though. As said by another comment, they rely on most people not doing this.

Every single store you shop at pays an extra 1-2% when you make a purchase with that card. Reward cards result in a higher discount fee for the merchant to cover the rewards the bank pays out.

There is an opportunity cost in the money forgone by lending it to this "deadbeat", as a CC company might term him.

Don't blame Bing. It is the store that is deciding to charge you a higher price.

I have seen this several times, on both newegg and Buy.com. Normally the "add to cart to see price" type items are cheaper if you don't do the bing cash back

Yeah, I also think this is the merchant's fault. (full disclosure, my wife works for a competitor of Bing Cashback)

My wife's company runs into this issue, and they try to stop the merchants from raising prices, but sometimes a few companies slip through the cracks.

However, maybe Bing doesn't make this against their ToS. In which case, that's bad.

On a side note, anybody interests in doing a startup related to affiliate and/or rebates? I have an idea and I want to talk to somebody about it and hopefully the idea is good enough to create a startup.

terencekwan at gmail dot com

I've always wondered what I might be revealing (demographics-wise) through my cookies while browsing, but I never though I might be getting shafted by them!

Wonder if Bing is revenue-sharing w/ their vendors this way somehow.

It appears on Microsoft's quarterly financials as "income from overcharging partner customers"...? Unlikely.

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