I would never give money to a politician unless it was a good investment. For individuals, it’s not. But hey, want to see which of your friends are suckers? You can even get their addresses and go T-P their houses.
Today Microsoft launched Live Search Cashback! This service is really a merging of their Jellyfish service (Microsoft bought Jellyfish some time ago) with Live Search. Microsoft says it’s going to help change the game against Google.
I first used Jellyfish back in October, 2007. I thought the service was pretty nice. They have a whole “community shopping” service, which I am not interested in, but from visiting their site, you can clearly see via the live “shopping smackdowns” that there are lots of people that do. I guess their competition is probably the Home Shopping Channel and such. Clearly shopping as entertainment is a very valid business.
The reason I signed up at Jellyfish was because we were buying some chairs online, and I found that the seller had an affiliate program through Jellyfish to give us 15% off. 15% off the $450 was over $50, so it was worth it.
Overall, affiliate rebates are just like mail-in rebates. You never know when or if you’ll get paid. So be careful.
Here is roughly what happens:
1. You make a purchase. You can’t go directly to the merchant’s site; you need to make sure you follow the links from the affiliate you are expecting the rebate from.
2. At that point, you’ll pay full price, and you’ll get the product delivered to you.
3. The seller has an agreement with the affiliate (Microsoft) that it will pay the affiliate every 90-120 days. They do this to avoid paying rebates on items which could be returned, and also because nobody likes to pay bills promptly.
4. Finally, Microsoft can credit your account; since they’ve automated the process, I expect this is probably pretty quick – within 1-3 business days from Microsoft receiving the money.
5. Of course, Jellyfish/Microsoft know that it’s been 3-4 months since your purchase and there is a decent chance you’ll forget altogether. So they won’t tell you the money is there. You need to check your account, and if you’re lucky, you’ll have a balance to cash out.
If you haven’t used affiliate cash back programs before, you probably should now that Microsoft is fully in the game. Most affiliate programs to date have not passed all the money back to you, the consumer. However, Microsoft’s program does – they are passing 100% of the affiliate check back to you. How does Microsoft get paid? Well, technically they don’t – if you claim your money. However, if you forget to pick up your check, well, they got paid anyway, didn’t they?
Overall, I think Jellyfish/Cashback is pretty cool and I will use it. Over the long haul, however, I don’t expect affiliate programs will ever offer the best prices. Management of affiliate programs is expensive, and as more companies make their own online efforts efficient, the cheapest prices will be direct from the manufacturer (absent subsidies from Microsoft, that is :-).
If you are like me, you aren’t pleased when the price of stamps goes up. Here in my desk drawer, I still have about ten 34cent stamps, twenty 37cent stamps, and fifty 41cent stamps! None of those will be usable starting next week. I’ve been gradually using those 34cent stamps since 2001!
Fortunately, the Post Office has finally created the Forever Stamp – a stamp which will always be good for a first class stamp, regardless of rate increases. Needless to say, I marched myself over to usps.com and bought myself a 10year supply of stamps!
I estimate that I use about 50 stamps per year. I then looked up the historical prices of stamps, and projected postage through 2018. I then calculated the amount of money I’m going to save with these wonderful Forever stamps – (not to mention that I won’t have a drawer full of useless stamps). My savings – $28.80. Woo hoo! To those who don’t stock up – suckers! OK – I’m actually aware that if I put the $205 I just spent on postage into the bank at 3% interest in the end, I’d actually spend less money. But – that’s not the point! Think of the bragging rights when I bring out my 41cent stamp in 2018 to mail a letter!
A colleague asked me this morning if I had seen the Microsoft Mesh announcement. I said I had, and that I thought it looked really pretty, but I didn’t get it. “It looks like a solution in need of a problem,” I said. My colleague went on to say that this was basically what Joel on Software had also said, and I just got a kick out of reading Joel’s diatribe. I wish I wrote half as well as Joel.
Although I am not excited about Mesh, I am not as pessimistic about it as Joel is. I think it’s great that Microsoft has projects like this. Microsoft should be trying to innovate in as many ways as it can; and with innovation comes experimentation. That’s not a bad thing, although Joel seems to think it is.
My only concern is that this project appears to have come from Ray Ozzie himself. It seems like something that a couple of smart kids out of school could do. If I had the resources of Ray Ozzie behind me, I hope I’d come up with something much bigger. Products that don’t change the world are not worthy of the Chief Architect at Microsoft. So far, Mesh seems smallish. But, he’s a smart guy. Maybe the world-changing part is still coming; and if so, that’s great.