The day after Thanksgiving, I stumbled across a deal that seemed too good to be true: Office 2004 had a $100 rebate that day only, and if you bought any version of Office 2004 you could get Office 2008 for the price of shipping. With Amazon markdowns and the student/home version of Office 2004, that came out to around $40 for Office 2008.
I only need Microsoft Office every now and again, so I couldn’t pass this up. My girlfriend has never owned Office for Mac (and also doesn’t need it very often), so I had someone to give the extraneous 2004 install to; life seemed perfect.
At the time, the promotional materials claimed that Office 2008 would arrive sometime in early February. I figured they wouldn’t be prioritizing these copies of Office (they’re certainly not getting any profit out of them), so this seemed reasonable.
But like all things having to do with ridiculously good deals and rebates, things haven’t been quite so easy.
The other day, I got an absolute jewel of an email (excerpted because for most of the email, you really shouldn’t care):
Thank you for your recent order. The product listed below is currently out of stock. […] The new expected ship date for your product is 2/25/2008.
If you still wish to receive this product, if available by the new expected ship date shown above, please let us know by responding to this e-mail and placing an X in front of option #1 below […] If you do not respond to this e-mail or contact our customer service department within 30 days, your order will be cancelled and a refund issued, if applicable.
If you wish to receive the product when it becomes available, even if after the expected ship date, you may update your order by responding to this e-mail and placing an X in front of option #2 below.
Delayed shipping date? Okay, I can handle that. I use Office maybe once a week, if that. It’s mostly future compatibility that I’m worried about, and so far no clients have been sending me .docx files that Pages can’t handle.
But the latter two paragraphs are real jewels. Although I have ordered the product, filed all the forms correctly, and paid them the cost of shipping, I still need to actively respond in order for them to actually send me my copy of Office 2008. Not only that, but if I’m in a hurry and just “check” the first option, they’ll only send the product to me if they meet the Feb. 25th shipping date.
When I asked my Magic 8 ball whether they’d make the Feb. 25th shipping date, it’s response was “Don’t be such a fucking idiot.”
I certainly don’t think I’m entitled to all that much in this particular transaction with Microsoft (after all, it’s practically theft; I’m not sure why they created the deal in the first place), but the underhanded ways corporations try to exploit people’s inattention to detail is still pretty sickening to me. What do they gain by this, anyway? A small amount of positive press when the deal was around, and then the hope that they can trick the people who took advantage of it into passively opting out by forgetting to respond to an email?
Microsoft, consider this a bit of bad press to try and offset anything you originally gained. If you’re going to delay the shipping date, fine. Regardless of whether the product is actually back-ordered, I can understand why you’d want to deliver it to the people who are forking over several hundred dollars first. But cheap tricks like the above email aren’t doing you any favors.
Then again, since when did Microsoft care about what people think? I really should stop expecting to be treated like a human when I’m interacting with Microsoft. It just brings me grief.
Update: it finally arrived! See my opinion of Office 2008 now that I’ve got it in my grubby little mitts.