When buying discount software online, there are two primary things you want to keep in mind: you want to make sure that you are getting the product you want, and you want to make sure you are paying the price you want.
While such a statement may initially seem intuitive, online software shopping is much more of an art than many people might give it credit for. It is very easy to end up overpaying for a product if you don’t have the proper wherewithal. Furthermore, even the most well-informed individuals have fallen victims to online scams in which they end up getting illegitimate or pirated versions of the software without ever having given their consent.
To avoid overpaying for your software products or to avoid getting scammed into paying for products that are completely illegitimate, there are a few simple—but important—things you ought to keep in mind. Here, you will find the information you need to find the product you want at the price you want to pay.
How can I know I am actually getting a Microsoft licensed product?
There truly are an astounding number of websites and software providers who will mislead you into believing they are licensed Microsoft software providers. Though it can sometimes seem tedious to have to sort the good from the bad, it is in fact very necessary to do so in order to avoid paying for an invalid product key or to come across a situation in which you can be held legally liable. Microsoft conducts periodic audits to make sure that those who are using its software have, in fact, actually paid for the right to do so, and knowing this could someday happen to you, it is important to be prepared.
Generally, it is a bad idea to purchase Microsoft software from anybody other than a certified Microsoft software provider. Fortunately, consumers still have a number of different outlets to choose from as these providers can be found all across the internet or in actual retail outlets. When trying to determine if a website is actually a certified software provider, there are several things you can do to set your mind at ease:
- Look for a certificate of authenticity or a seal of authenticity on their website. Though the illegitimate sites could in fact forge these, the ones that do typically do not last for very long. The official Microsoft partner seal isn’t the only thing you should be looking for, but it is certainly something that means are going in the right direction.
- Look into the company’s personal history. Have they been around for a long time? Have they established themselves as financially stable? Are you able to find reviews of the company from outside sources that confirm the company’s legitimacy?
- Test the company’s willingness and ability to speak with you and answer your questions. If the company is legitimate and has nothing to hide, then they will have no reason to resist answering any questions you may have. Briefly look over the company’s FAQ page on their website, and if you want, try to speak directly with a representative.
- Ask for proof of certification—any company that has been in the business long enough will know this is a common question, and will happily provide it for you.
- Look for all of the required components of a legitimate software package: a Microsoft online account, a Microsoft license, a product key, and the software itself.
What are some signs that an online software retailer is trying to scam me?
Many illegitimate software retailers might be able to “play the part” at first, but eventually, if you are disciplined and diligent with your research, you should be able to distinguish those which are legitimate from those which are not. Most of these online scams can jump through a few hoops at first, but there are enough possible red flags out there that they cannot possibly overcome all of them. Some of these red flags include:
- Companies that have no discernable history, staff, or references online.
- Companies that are less than a few weeks old and are unable to answer your questions.
- Companies that request an inordinate amount of personal information before even making a sale—credit card information, SSN, personal details, etc.
- Websites with ambiguous wording, strange pricing structures, and consistently gimmicky tactics.
- Deals that require you to pay a large amount up front with the (potentially) false promise of a major rebate later.
- Trust your gut: if it doesn’t feel legitimate, it probably isn’t legitimate. Genuine Microsoft partners will gladly present themselves to you fully, and be both willing and able to answer your questions.
How can I save big on buying software online?
Once you can certify that the company or companies you are looking to buy from are legitimate Microsoft licensing partners who will give you real, legal, and useable product codes, the next step is figuring out ways in which you can save money. If you are trying to buy software online for cheap, there are several ways in which you can dramatically decrease the price you end up paying:
- Look for student discount deals. Even if you are not a student, you can still frequently access these deals, and by simply checking a box, you can save a lot of money.
- Look for discounts that apply to individuals buying in bulk. Even if you don’t necessarily need the entire bulk for just yourself or your organization, it can save you a tremendous amount of money to organize a group and buy together.
- Comparison shop between all of the sites you deem to be legitimate software providers. Each of these sites will frequently offer sales specials or other various forms of discounts; use the leverage you have as a buyer to negotiate with the site of your choice.
- Buy only what you need. Quite often, software providers will pose packaged deals in a way that makes it seem as if you are saving a lot of money, but if what you need is just one or a few components of the package, you could end up actually spending far more than necessary. Compare the price of the individual components that you actually need to the price of the total package and see if you can save.
These are just a few of the ways in which any consumer can easily save big on software online. As is the case with all online shopper, it is highly important for the individual consumer to be conscious of what they are actually buying, and to have the discipline to research before they buy.
Software is something it seems everyone is need of buying, and there are numerous sources that are trying to supply it. Some of these sources are legitimate, others are not. But keeping these tips and traits in mind, you can easily distinguish which online retailers are legitimate Microsoft partners and which are trying to sell you something less. Then, by comparison shopping and using this simple list of price saving strategies, you can accomplish your goal as a conscious consumer: finding the exact product you want at a price you are willing to pay.