I am a relatively intelligent person. When eBay announced their newest coupon offer which is offered in partnership with Microsoft Live Search I read it, re-read and then made my husband read it and we both just didn’t get it. This could possibly be the most complicated promotion I have ever heard of but its actually simple once you understand what to do. If you are going to be doing any shopping on eBay this holiday season anyway, you don’t want to miss out on this discount just because its complicated.

The verbiage of the promotion is a little convoluted but heck, money was being given out so I wanted in! I finally, at long last, triumphed over this promotion and managed to make my first cash back purchase. And, as is my way, when I figure something out, I want to share it so here is my plain English, for dummies style explanation of how you too can take advantage of this offer. My hope is that this will be easier to understand than the official explanation which can be found here.

But what is it? Essentially, this offer works most like a rebate but you’ll see it called coupon, discount, promotion or any other number of buzz words. At its most basic, if you complete a series of steps and then place an order for a fixed price item on eBay, you will get a set amount back from Microsoft Live Search. The value off seems to fluctuate from day to day (today it’s 8% off, when it launched it was 35% off) but the steps to get the offer work the same no matter what. This applies for just about any fixed price or store inventory item, including free shipping items as long as you pay via PayPal.

Here is your step-by-step on how to get this:

  1. Go to http://search.live.com/cashback and create a free account.
  2. Cashback will send an email to your address to confirm your account, click the link they send over.
  3. Cashback will then sometimes send another email asking you to confirm your account details (address, etc). Make sure to do this as well before continuing. This will go smoothest if your Cashback account is entirely set up before you start.
  4. Go to www.live.com and search for something. What you search for actually doesn’t seem to matter at all as all you need to do is click the link and then cookies take over. That said, some searches will not yield the link you need so try for something general or common enough that should definitely be on eBay. (If you cannot think of anything to search for or if what you are after isn’t giving you the link, you can use this sample link. Whoa, is that a link to search results for my book? What a random coincidence! ;-))
  5. On the search results page, find the gold coin icon next to the eBay sponsored result and click it. It looks like something this (though it may be on the side):
  6. This next part is all about cookies. If your browser isn’t accepting cookies, you may need to play with the settings. When you’ve done this right, a colorful cashback logo will show on the top of every page on eBay for you. From the moment that you first click the link, you have 60 minutes in which to complete your sale. I would recommend doing all your shopping ahead of time and only starting the cashback process once you already know which listing you are going to buy to avoid the stress of the time limit. (I don’t like my shopping experience to feel like a video game level, thank you very much!)
  7. Place your order (remember, it has to be a Buy It Now item meaning, auctions with Buy It Now, Fixed Price and Store Inventory items are all eligible but Best Offer is not). Now here is the part that is really easy to mess up so read this carefully! As you are going through checkout, the cashback logo should be on each page and should also show you your discount as you go. If this is missing, you may not have done one of the above steps correctly so backtrack. After you pay, via PayPal, there will be a button that you will have to press to claim your cashback. This is incredibly easy to miss and comes right after the payment confirmation page.
  8. Once you click the cashback claim button, you will be taken to the Live Search Cahsback page. Log in with the account you created earlier and, ta da, you should be all done. Don’t panic if the discount doesn’t show right away, it sometimes take a few minutes.
  9. You can start claiming your cashback once your total hits $5 so shop away!

Now, a few things to note. You seem to only be able to place one cashback order a day and the maximum cashback that you can get on any purchase is $200 and eBay’s cashback rewards are subject to Microsoft’s annual limit of $2, 500 per person.

The best part is that you can get a maximum of 12 cashback rewards so you don’t have to worry about saving this for one big single purchase. You can probably get cashback on just about all your eBay purchases before you run into that 12 limit.

Now if you already bought something with cashback and only just now realized that you never created an account with Microsoft, you may be OK. Some people have managed to create an account after the purchase but setting the account up ahead of time is the smoothest way and the least risky. The biggest issue is that if you miss that little claim cashback button, you seem to be out of luck as there is no way to get it back.

So what are you waiting for? eBay is giving out money for purchases you were going to make anyway! Why not get some of it while the getting is good!