Bing Cashback is offering some serious savings starting Black Friday in partnership with HP, Dell, Lenovo, Best Buy, AT&T and other gadget vendors. Black Friday doorbusters can be difficult (or even impossible) for most consumers to score, but Bing Cashback offers a way for just about anyone to get in on the savings. However, the Bing Cashback discounts are rebates and you must follow specific rules if you ever want to get your cash back.
First the good news. Microsoft runs Bing Cashback and is partnering with Dell, HP and Lenovo to offer 20% rebates on most purchases. These PC vendors, along with several other retailers, pay for text ads on Bing.com, Microsoft’s new search engine. You’ll need to search for the name of the retailer plus “cashback” to get started.
Click on the Bing Cashback logo in the ad to get started and go to the vendor’s website.
You’ll be greeted with a signup form. Enter your email address and you’ll get a message from Bing with instructions on how to open a Cashback account. According to Bing, you can continue shopping before opening your account. Bing will send you a follow up email after your purchase to confirm your cashback.
Now the bad news. You don’t actually get 20% off your purchase when you buy. Instead, you have to wait for 60 days until after your purchase is complete to request your Cashback. Several days later you’ll get your Cashback credited to your Paypal account. If everything goes smoothly you’ll have your Cashback in time for Valentine’s day.
So what are all of the Cashback deals?
- BestBuy.com 10% Cashback
- HPDirect.com 20%
- eBay.com 10% Cashback
- NewEgg.com 8% Cashback
- TigerDirect.com 8-12.2% Cashback
- Lenovo.com 20% Cashback
- CircuitCity.com 8-12.2% Cashback
- Attwireless.com 35% Cashback
There’s some fine print that makes Bing Cashback a lot less attractive than it sounds however. There are several ways for Bing and/or the merchant can disqualify your purchase without your knowledge until after you place your order.
Last year this caused some serious headache for Notebooks.com shoppers. To put it mildly, it ruined a LOT of people’s shopping experiences on Black Friday. There were some serious server errors that brought Cashback shopping to a halt for most of Black Friday last year. Thousands of Cashback customers voiced their frustration here on Notebooks.com and on several deals forums. Some customers received notices that their purchases qualified for a fraction of the advertised savings. The frustrations lasted for several months. Many customers were unable to return their purchases for a refund because the return period had lapsed by the time Microsoft notified them their purchases were ineligible. Microsoft did help a lot of customers get the proper discounts, but it was a major hassle. The Microsoft executive in charge of Cashback (formerly known as MSN Live Cashback) resigned shortly after the fiasco.
If you’re going to participate in the Bing Cashback offers be sure to read the fine print in Microsoft’s terms and conditions. The Live.com terms and conditions are spelled out in thousands of words of legalese, but the most important paragraph relating to Bing cashback is pasted below.
You will not earn cashback savings on purchases where (a) you close your browser or open the store’s web site in a different web browser or tab; (b) you click away from the store after clicking on an eligible advertisement; (c) your browser is not configured to accept cookies; (d) the purchase is not completed in the same web browsing session in which you click on the eligible advertisement or listing; (e) the order is later cancelled or the goods or services are later returned; (f) the store does not report the purchase to us; (g) the goods or services are acquired for resale or other business purposes; (h) you use a separate discount or coupon with your order; (i) you exceed the annual monetary cap on cashback savings; (j) you purchase gift cards or gift certificates; or (k) you make a purchase from yourself or from entities that you control or otherwise in collusion with other people.
In other words, if you’re going to make a purchase using the Bing Cashback program, don’t try and game the system by applying multiple discounts and coupon codes. If the system sees this happening you’re not going to get a dime back. You also need to follow the work flow of purchasing through the program as spelled out in the top part of this article or else your purchase may not be eligible. Don’t close your browser after clicking on the advertisement with the Cashback logo.
If you’re going to purchase multiple items through a merchant using Bing Cashback you should probably put them on separate orders just to be safe. We heard reports last year of entire orders being disqualified because a single item on the order was returned. For example, if you’re going to be buy a TV and a computer you should run through the entire process twice. That way if you return the TV your Bing Cashback for the computer will still show up.
Based on some conversations I’ve had with reps from Microsoft, HP and other PC companies, I think the Cashback program will run a lot smoother than it did last year. However, I think the program is too complex, especially for shoppers who rarely order items online. In order to actually get their Cashback they have to go through opening accounts with the vendor, Bing and PayPal. They also have to be sure to follow the workflow to the T and hope all of the involved companies are passing accurate information back and forth.
I suggest taking a look at the coupons and deals HP, Dell, Lenovo and Best Buy are offering before resorting to Cashback. They all have pretty aggressive Black Friday deals independent of Cashback. In some instances the discounts exceed 20%, which means your better off leaving Cashback out of the picture completely.
I’m crossing my fingers and hope Cashback works out better for consumers better this Black Friday than last year’s. One thing that Microsoft’s done is extend the Cashback offers from Black Friday through next Tuesday. This should give people a second chance at Black Friday pricing if they don’t get what they want online or at retail the day after Thanksgiving.