Ten Rules for Rebates
Before plunking down
your dollars for that "after rebate" offer that seems too good to pass
up, here are some things you might want to think about.
Sometimes there are offers that, while posing as a rebate, might turn
Scams, and Spam
Not very long ago, you
had to be really careless and/or really uninformed to fall victim to
the various forms of digital mischief lurking in the ether. Viruses,
Trojans, scams and spam were relatively easy to avoid. All you needed
was a little basic information...
Whatever you're doing
with your system, whether adding hardware or learning the ins and outs
of software packages, it's nice to have someone who knows the way to
What you want is real
technical support for what you're doing.
We suggest you take a
look at this-
It's the technical support you imagined in the
first place..only better: 24 hours a day - 7 days a week - 365 days a
OEM and Clearance Savings
If you’ve never
priced an office software suite, like Microsoft Office, Corel
WordPerfect Suite, or IBM’s Lotus SmartSuite, it can be a shock to
discover that the price tag attached to software of this type can
easily exceed the cost of an entire computer system. It’s bad
enough for a single installation, but if you’re setting up
multiple computers, the economics of obtaining and installing
software you need can easily get out of hand.
The same goes for operating system software, like Windows XP or
2000, and utility/security packages like antivirus, firewall, or
disk maintenance titles.
Looking for OEM or clearance software?
Get it here...
If, for example, you
have five computers, five copies of Norton Internet Security
could, if purchased at a local retail outlet, set your
checkbook back by $300, easy. Five copies of Microsoft Word?
Somewhere around $500, if you shop carefully and
qualify for upgrade pricing.
Even if you're buying for a single system, it's easy to
resent the often high price of application, utility, and
(especially) security software packages. After all, few
people really need all the bundled features used to justify
the price, and security's a major imposition..
Fully Licensed Software. Cheap.
Whether or not such software is worth the asking
price, alternatives are few. For the most part, freeware
offerings, good as they may be, are really not a substitute for
the genuine article. Sometimes, you really do need the features,
quality, reliability, standardization, and compatibility of the
With newer releases from Microsoft and
subscription based software like antivirus, you may not have the
option (never permitted but often exercised) of “borrowing” an
installation disk, or taking advantage of the old POIM plan
(purchase one, install many). Aside from the ethics of it, some
manufacturers’ current activation sequences simply won’t let you
Rebates that drive the price to something more attractive won’t
help you out if you’re a small office or multi-system household;
they’re almost always “one per customer, household, or address”.
You could enlist the aid of Granny, Mom, and your backyard
neighbor to… well, never mind. In the end, it’s more trouble
than it’s really worth- and sometimes you’ll never see the
There is a market in used software, but we don’t recommend it.
There’s just too big a risk of winding up having paid good money
for a disk that cannot be installed or registered, with no
access to update patches, and no recourse for the hapless buyer.
For reasonably knowledgeable buyers, there is an alternative. If
you know what you need, and/or never have a use for
manufacturers’ technical support, you can save some serious
bucks with OEM and clearance software.
Wholesale to the public?
OEM (generally interpreted as Original Equipment
Manufacturer) software is what computer makers like HP, Gateway,
Toshiba, and the rest install on new computers. Obviously, they
don’t pay retail for their preinstalled software. Not so
obviously, you don’t have to either.
Originally intended for wholesale distribution to computer
manufacturers (whether the size of those above or a local “white
box” store), OEM software is technically “for distribution only
with a new PC”. Sellers have gradually, but repeatedly, expanded
the definition of the required “computing hardware” to include
mice, USB cables, and sometimes nothing at all. After all, what,
exactly, constitutes a new PC? What, exactly, is distribution?
These are questions to be pondered by greater (or at least more
highly compensated) minds than ours.
Leaving interpretative readings of the reseller contract out of
it, the buyer of deeply discounted OEM software (whether
large-scale equipment manufacturer or solitary end-user)
essentially gives up the right to technical support. If you call
the software manufacturer for assistance, they will recognize
the serial number as OEM and refer you to the equipment
manufacturer. Under the original theory, this would be a
brand-name computer manufacturer, or at minimum your local white
box assembler- someone at least theoretically prepared to help
Tech support: who needs it?
As a buyer of OEM software, of course, you’re technically
your own “equipment manufacturer” and there’s no one else to
call with any problem you may have. You’ll figure it out, one
way or another, on your own. As we see it, anyone prepared to
make that trade-off is entitled to the sometimes substantial
savings that come with it.
And it’s not as though you’re giving up a lot. On the extremely
rare occasions when we’ve tried to get assistance (before we
made the switch to OEM), we’ve wound up solving the problem on
our own anyway. And this was when they had actual technicians on
the lines rather than today’s script readers.
As it is, you still have access to all the online assistance in
the form of knowledge bases, FAQs, patches and downloads.
Windows Update, for example, works the same for OEM or retail
installations. The serial number is valid; the installation’s
legal, and in most cases will (but not always) qualify for
upgrade to future versions.
Know what's involved...
There are some limitations to OEM. Depending on the package,
it may or may not be exactly the same as the retail version. For
example, Corel Office Suite includes in its retail version voice
recognition software, something not included with the OEM.
Norton Antivirus retail comes with a one-year subscription to
Symantec’s virus definition update service, while the OEM
includes just 90 days. With any OEM CD, there are no printed
manuals, no “quick start” instruction leaflets, no
shrink-wrapped packaging. The license agreement is often
(subject to interpretation) more restrictive than with retail,
but for most people this isn’t likely to be relevant.
Provided that you understand what it is you’re getting, OEM can
be a great way to save some money on your software purchases.
Prices are a fraction of the retail, usually much lower than all
but the most aggressive “after rebate” deals, without the
increasingly iffy nature of some rebates. For example, we
recently purchased several copies of Windows XP Professional OEM
(the “full” version that requires no qualifying previous version
to install) at a price only slightly higher than the retail XP
Home Edition Upgrade- a savings of well over fifty per cent. For
some packages, you can keep up to 80, even 90 per cent or more
of the retail price cozy where it belongs: in your pocket.
Looking for OEM or clearance software?
Get it here...
Sometimes, you may not need or even want the latest software
versions. Newer is not always better. Sometimes, in fact, it’s
worse. From increased hardware requirements to newly introduced
encumbrances (like product activation), there are many reasons
to avoid the new releases.
In a small office setting, for example, it’s desirable to have
all users with the same version of a software package. File
compatibility is guaranteed, and a standard user interface
greatly simplifies support and training issues. If you have
three systems running Office 2000, and you add a new computer,
you don’t necessarily want Office XP added to the mix. If you’re
equipping more than one computer, the argument is more
financially compelling. You’d be hard pressed to find Office
2000 at your local store, but if you know where to look you can
get it- fully licensed and brand new- for a lot less than it
used to cost.
Software manufacturers are forced by market pressures to release
new versions, with or without significant enhancements. There’s
nothing sinister about this, it’s just the way the market works.
Who’s going to buy Norton Antivirus 2002 if McAfee 2003 is on
the shelves? The answer? Smart, informed shoppers.
What's in a version?
According to all the reviews we’ve seen, there’s
little difference between the 2002 and 2003 Symantec firewall
and antivirus products, yet they still maintain their “best buy”
ratings. When a credible reviewer at PC World or ZD Net says
there’s no call to upgrade to a newer version, the conclusion
seems plain: if you can buy 2002 at a fraction of the price of
2003, we see no reason not to.
Clearance software is usually “last year’s” model, though older
versions often are available. Unlike OEM, these are unsold
retail packages, sometimes remaindered out by mainstream
vendors, sometimes left sitting in a distribution warehouse. The
boxes may be crinkled, but the software is good as new, exactly
as it was when it sold for full price, sometimes just a few
As with purchasing OEM titles, information is the key to saving
money with clearance software deals. You have to know what
you’re buying, what you’re giving up by foregoing the current
version. Calculation is required, weighting the benefit of low
price against whatever drawbacks there may be.
Know what you're getting...
Among the variables in this equation, compatibility is by
far the most important. It won’t do you any good to save a
bundle on a software package if it won’t run on your system.
Sticking with Symantec for example, we recently obtained several
copies of Norton Antivirus 2002 (full retail versions with a
year of subscription updates) at a cost of about $10 each. We
could have got 2001 for even less, but it is not compatible with
This is more an issue with utility than application software,
but it pays to do your homework either way. In addition to
reviews by major publications, we’ve found the “groups” tab at
Google.com to provide invaluable information about potential
issues with proposed clearance software purchases.
Just as is the case with OEM, if you know what you’re getting
(and can get what you need), clearance software can be a
cost-effective way to obtain top-notch titles at a fraction of
current-version software prices.
Where to get it
If OEM or clearance software sounds like a deal, you’re left
with the problem of finding it. Obviously, normal retail outlets
like CompUSA or Office Depot aren’t the place to look. You have
to go online to find a vendor, and this can be intimidating.
Some of the sites that sell this kind of merchandise aren’t
exactly confidence inspiring.
In our experience, Eagle Computer stands out as a good source,
and not just for software. Carrying the BBBOnline seal, they’re
also highly rated by the Yahoo Shopping feedback service. Even
more encouraging, they’re active eBay sellers with a long and
uniformly positive feedback history (not a trivial achievement).
We also like the complete, informative product descriptions, a
rarity among vendors in the deep-discount market.
We found the web
site well-organized and easy to use. As always, the search
box can be a major aid in finding what you're looking for.
Our merchandise arrived very quickly, and was exactly as
In addition to OEM
and clearance software, Eagle Computer offers very attractive
prices on parts, accessories, and complete computer systems.
Eagle Computer: Big Savings On Software and Hardware Products!