Ebates Officially Discontinues MoeMoneyMaker Downloadable Toolbar

January 26, 2009 · 5 comments

It’s been at the core of more than one controvery in its time, but Ebates.com (aff) has finally decided to pull the plug on the Moe Money Maker downloadable rebate reminder toolbar.
In an email on 1/11 to members Ebates had identified as prior downloaders of MMM, the company announced that it was discontinuing support of the software, in preparation for the launch of a new, non-downloaded reminder tool very soon. The full email to members can be read below.
Initially, the outcry over MoeMoneyMaker was made by online marketers who were incensed that they might lose out on commissions as MMM “swooped in” and reminded a shopper to use Ebates’ affiliate link to receive cash back…versus possibly forgetting, clicking through a banner link on any old website, and THAT webmaster receiving the commission for your purchase (the member receiving zero). The “other” webmasters’ complaint: “It was our website that made the consumer want to buy. We should get credit for the sale. Instead, the reminder tool pushes the consumer to go through Ebates’ link and we get nothing.”
Of course, the consumer’s just happy he’s been prompted to get cash back.
The problem with toolbars like this (and there are other rewards programs still doing toolbars, like Upromise), from a consumer’s standpoint, is — what if he wants to use more than one rewards program? Suppose he has the toolbar installed to remind him about Upromise cashback, but he knows (thanks to CompareRewards.com and other websites) that he can get a higher cashback rate through a competing rewards program like Extrabux. Then what? Does the toolbar swipe the sale anyway? Does the member have to remember to choose a particular option in a popup to get the Extrabux cashback instead of the Upromise?
My standpoint’s been that if you’re only going to use ONE rewards program, and they have a toolbar, sure, you can use one…. but they’re spyware — they track your online activity — and you may be forfeiting a better cashback rate elsewhere. I suggested as far back as 2004 that you delete MMM and avoid it like the plague.
Aside from the “It’s not fair!” plea of non-rewards-program websites that don’t like having their commission intercepted by a reminder toolbar, Ebates also got in some hot water in ’05 when it was discovered that MMM was being installed on computers without permission via a security hole. They were sued for this exact thing in 2006 (the case never went to trial — unsure if it was thrown out or settled).
In December 2007, I had the opportunity to meet with Ebates’ founder, Alessandro Isolani, at the Ebates offices in San Francisco. One of the many topics we discussed was Moe Money Maker. He said that MMM was not promoted on the site anymore and that in fact it may not even be on Ebates website at all anymore (he wasn’t sure), but he didn’t want to come out and completely discontinue support for it as there was a small but very loyal group of members still using it. I suggested that the positive PR that could be spun from ditching it might be worth the wrath of the few members who’d miss it. He felt that those with a beef against MMM were in the minority and appeasing them wasn’t worth ticking off any MMM loyalists. (My paraphrasing, of course — but I think that’s the spirit of what he said.)
Alessandro left Ebates last year and I guess the climate has changed. Still, the discontinuation of MMM was done quietly in an email sent only to those who had at some point in time downloaded the tool. I think it’s something that needs to be spotlighted because of its long and contentious history: it’s the end of an era for Ebates…and hopefully the beginning of something new and better.


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Ebates Moe Money Maker Reminder Program
Sunday, January 11, 2009 5:01 AM
From: “Ebates Customer Care”
To: comparerewards@yahoo.com
Dear Rebecca,
Our records indicate that you have downloaded the Ebates Moe Money Maker Reminder service to your computer. We regret to inform you that we will discontinue support of the program software starting next week in preparation for the launch of an exciting new Ebates toolbar in the coming weeks. The new, cutting-edge toolbar will provide a superior customer experience and better access to personalized special offers without actually being downloaded to your computer. As soon as the toolbar is ready for use, you will be among the first to know.
In the meantime, we hope you will continue to earn cash back every time you shop by starting at Ebates.com. Just click through to your favorite merchant and shop as you normally do.
Discontinuation of the reminder software should not cause you any inconvenience. There should be no impact on your computer when the software is deactivated. If you wish to remove the software yourself in advance of its discontinuation, please visit our website for instructions.
Please contact customer care if you have any questions or concerns. Thank you for your understanding.
Sincerely,
The Ebates Team

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

toolbar user January 26, 2009 at 5:41 pm

You should check your facts. While a few extremely outspoken individuals claim that these toolbars spy on your every move (without your permission) and they steal the commission from the actual referring website, it is just not true. These are the same people that also have seen UFO’s and knows someone that has seen Elvis alive. Better yet, download a toolbar from Upromise or iGive.com or FatWallet and try it for yourself. Go to CouponCabin and click on any of their merchant links and you will see there is no “stealing” going on. You should also read the privacy policy to see if they are collecting data on their every online move without their permission.
You position yourself as an authority and a consumer protector, but you are simply perpetuating the lies that ignorant consumers and even more ignorant small publishers like to hear.

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Becky Ford January 27, 2009 at 9:12 am

Spoken like a true Upromise employee — your bosses should be proud of you! :)
The extent to which the toolbars “spy on your every move” (without or WITH your permission) certainly is beyond my realm of expertise. I don’t use them; I don’t know. Those who supposedly ARE in the know about such things say that they do intercept commissions. That’s what the toolbar does, right? It reminds you to go through the rewards program’s link instead of going to the merchant any other way. If I’m wrong, please educate me. I’m not an expert. I don’t know.
The toolbars are Big Brotheresque to the extent that they mark your computer as, for example, that of a Upromise member, and they know that you’re going to X outside website, which is a Upromise merchant. I don’t know what else they track. Maybe nothing. But why would you want to download ANYTHING that reports back to another website where you’re going online and what you’re doing? If I want Upromise to give me credit for shopping, I’ll start my shopping session on Upromise.com, thankyouverymuch. Otherwise, mind your own business about what websites I visit. (IMHO.)
Tell ya what: if you want to go back to your bosses and ask them to send me an essay “In Defense of Toolbars,” I’d be happy to post it here on CompareRewards. But let’s do it officially and on the record, and not under the subterfuge of an anonymous posting by a “toolbar user.” Thanks. That email is info@comparerewards.com. I look forward to receiving it.

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tlnblue January 27, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Seemingly aboveboard, legitimate companies and individuals have been using deceptive means of garnering either more sales or more commissions for years. The average internet user would not be privvy to many of the methods used but others who have been around for a decade or so know very well how these toolbars work and what they were intended for.
In addition to these toolbars, there are many other deceptive and even invasive practices which occur on a daily basis. For instance, we know that source codes can be manipulated to inflate pageviews, and we know that clicking on certain banners and advertisements can contain spyware, trojans and viruses. These practices erode consumer trust and have a negative impact on E-Commerce.
No one using the internet these days can be too careful, nor do we have enough consumer advocates able and willing to provide newsworthy information from such sites as CompareRewards, etc.

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anon January 28, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Actually the two most “spyware like” toolbars are Google toolbar and Yahoo toolbar. If you have either of those toolbars installed, every site you visit is sent back to their HQ for analysis. I have found most small toolbars to be very innocuous (either due to lack of technical resources or some other reason), and not nearly as bad as those two!

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regina huff March 21, 2012 at 8:07 am

How Do This Really Work” Like i Pick Something From Kmart” And Then After i Pick it Out… What Do i Do Now” i Really Do Not Understand This Ebates” At All Please Get Back And Let Me Know… How This Work” Thank You Regina Huff

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