from the touchy-microsoft dept
In the legal nastygram, Microsoft's lawyers claimed that because Meghani had tested the flaws out himself, he was likely guilty of violating "various laws relating to computer intrusion, unauthorized access and unauthorized use of information," while suggesting that his actions could result in criminal charges. That's ridiculous, of course. He didn't actually scam the company -- he was just exposing a flaw. This is legal bullying to silence someone for pointing out a rather basic security flaw in Microsoft's program.
But, of course, even though Meghani was silenced on that issue, it doesn't mean he has to be silent on all of the flaws in Bing's Cashback program, so his latest (found via Slashdot) is that various retailers that offer "cashback" via Bing purchases are showing higher prices if you search via Bing. In fact, the price people can pay if they do certain searches on Bing is higher than if they'd gone direct:
So, if I go directly to butterflyphoto.com, I pay $699 with 0% cashback. If I use Bing Cashback, I pay $758 with 2% cashback, or $742.84. Using Bing cashback has actually cost me $43.84, giving an effective cashback rate of -6.27%. Yes, negative cashback! Is this legal? False advertising? I don't know, but it's pretty sketchy.Microsoft responded and called this "an isolated instance" that it had missed with its tools that try to prevent merchants from gaming the system this way. Still, perhaps rather than sending out legal nastygrams and PR pablum to people discussing these things, Microsoft should focus on actually making sure that Bing's Cashback bribery program actually works correctly and safely.
The problem doesn't end there. Using Bing has tainted my web browser. Butterfly Photo set a three month cookie on my computer to indicate that I came from Bing. Any product I look at for the next three months may show a different price than I'd get by going there directly. Just clicking a Bing link means three months of potentially negative cashback, without me ever realizing it. I'm actually afraid to use their service even just to write this, because it may cost me money in the future. If you've been thinking about trying out Bing Cashback, you may want to rethink that.