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January 27, 2014

Office Depot Offers $800 of “Free” (?) Software

Filed under: Computers,Electronics,Finance,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:58 am

  Every year, the office supply superstores offer either cash rebates or free software as an inducement to buy tax preparation software (like TurboTax and H&R Block) from their store.

This year, as in previous years, Office Depot is making a generous offer of $800 of free software.

Office Depot

But, according to Mouse Print* reader WAE, the promised rebates did not cover the full purchase price of some of the software titles.

Checking the Office Depot website for the purchase price and the promised rebate revealed he was right!


Office Depot
[Click reconstructed image above to enlarge, then click again]

Mouse Print* wrote to Office Depot’s media relations department asking them why they were charging money for supposedly free software and how they were going to correct the problem for customers they overcharged.

Office Depot did not respond.

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  1. I didn’t do any calculations, but perhaps the cost of the software on that page exceeds $800 and it is up to the customer to pick and choose which software they would like to save on. I think there should be more clarity before judging this one.

    Mail-in-rebates are typically not worth the hassle anyways. I have seen mail in rebates that would take months to see a return.

    Edgar replies: Some of the product boxes explicitly shown as free in the graphic are not in fact free. That’s enough to show the ad is misleading.

    Comment by Wayne R — January 27, 2014 @ 8:17 am
  2. Because their argument will be that they are giving away $800 in free software, but it doesn’t mean the entire software package is free.

    They will say it is like saying we are giving away a free half dozen donuts, but you have to buy a dozen.

    Comment by Max — January 27, 2014 @ 8:41 am
  3. The ones I get a kick out of are the ones where the mail in rebates are more than the retail price yet you still have to PAY for them.

    Comment by Clarence C. — January 27, 2014 @ 10:29 am
  4. I added up the prices of all the software on the page that IS free and came up with more than $800. So I really don’t see what is wrong.

    Edgar replies: Sue, people who shop in Office Depot stores and buy the displayed software titles may only learn after they get home and fill out the rebate forms that they are not getting full refunds. That is unfair. It is also deceptive to show pictures of boxes of software claiming or implying that they are free when such is not the case. If Office Depot want to claim that the pictured software is free OR DEEPLY discounted after rebate, fine. But that is not what they are doing.

    Comment by Sue — January 27, 2014 @ 11:03 am
  5. They are advertising an $800 discount, not free software. Something free should cost zero dollars. Seems deceptive enough to me.

    Comment by Peter — January 27, 2014 @ 12:24 pm
  6. WebEasy8, which is being offered by Office Depot for a not-so-free $9.99 with tax software purchase, is a very old version of the program which is no longer supported by the manufacturer or eligible for technical support. The current version is WebEasy10. Ohio Distinctive, a company that markets original and republished software, was offering the still supported WebEasy9 for $15 in an email, but not on their website.

    Comment by JonK — January 27, 2014 @ 1:07 pm
  7. WebEasy8 or any version of the software is junk…. You want a real website from scratch done you need Dreamweaver or Muse on the PC side of things.

    I will say that bulk of the good software in the deal is the ones you still have to pay for in the end.

    I do think all the software in the deal needs to be free which they are not doing.

    Comment by Richard Ginn — January 27, 2014 @ 1:47 pm
  8. The more I read your blog, the more I feel you like to try and stir [deleted]. Consumers should do their own research and it’s their own fault if they don’t.

    Comment by Stef — January 27, 2014 @ 2:24 pm
  9. Stef, I don’t think there is any place in the Mouse Print blog where it says “let me do all the research for you.”

    This blog is a good resource for consumers to learn about the kinds of things they need to pay attention to if they do not want to get fooled by unclear or deceptive labeling.

    You don’t see many people doing their own income taxes, right? Well that’s because it takes experts to know how to read the details, and sometimes people don’t understand them even if they don’t find them.

    The advertisement above does indeed say $800 in free software, but when one actually visits the page not all of the software depicted in the ad is free.

    Comment by Wayne R — January 27, 2014 @ 6:17 pm
  10. Very deceptive. It sure sounds like you buy tax software and get useful software valued at $800 at no additional cost. This is like the “scam” when you buy a new computer and they throw in all of these trial products of “crippleware” or free products that are not worth the price.

    Anyway, reading the message a bit deeper, you see that you *CAN* get some software and, if you twist the words a bit (as mentioned with the donut analogy), you get about $900 of software that you only pay #100 for so you got $800 in free software…of course, last I knew that was a DISCOUNT, not “partly free”…imagine next time you see an ad for a free bag of oranges (with your next purchase of the skin).

    Oh yeah, and trying to sell you obsolete software when you purchase something else? That’s just bad business. Buy a new tire and get a 1993 Saturn clunker for only $500 (after rebates.)

    Comment by RobS — January 28, 2014 @ 12:03 am
  11. Comment to “Stef” above: Wouldn’t reading a website that provide a wide variety of news items about issues important to consumers constitute “doing your own research”?

    Comment by sko — February 1, 2014 @ 7:38 am
  12. In this day and age having a mail in rebate is like having a VCR.

    @Stef. I do my own research and much of the technique has improved thanks to this site.

    Comment by rick — February 1, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

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