Buyer Beware of OEM Packages

As most of you probably know, most OEM computers come with software bundles. Usually at least an OS, sometimes more.

Here’s some things you may not know.

Software manufacturers often offer their products to OEM manufacturers at steep discounts from the retail price. Sometimes, there’s no difference between the two. Usually, there is.

Often, an OEM bundle doesn’t entitle you to technical support from the software company. You usually don’t get printed instructions. Sometimes, you won’t get as many updates as you would with the retail package, or any at all. Sometimes, these are stripped-down versions of the programs. These OEM packages often do not qualify for rebates when new versions come out.

These packages are usually supposed to be sold only with the sale of a new computer, or at least a good-sized chunk of one.

However, it often happens that OEM manufacturers buy too many packages, or resellers buy the packages, and can’t sell them as addon purchases.

So they sell them to other people, who may or (more likely) may not pay attention to all those stipulations. If you go to a computer show, you will often see these items.

Here’s One of Those Places

One place selling these goods on the Internet is There’s quite a bit of software available, some at good prices, some at tremendous prices.

These folks are located in the DC metropolitan area and apparently started business as an auction company in 1990, and are still in that business. The Better Business Bureau in that area doesn’t list DirectDeals, but gives the auction businesses a reasonably clean bill of health.

The deal quite a few people tried over at the Anandtech Forum was the Norton Systemworks Professional 2001 OEM CD for (currently) $15.00 + (reasonable) shipping. This gets you Norton AntiVirus, Norton Utilities, Ghost, and a few other things.

Don’t buy until you read the comments over at the Forum. The company does a few odd things; in order to register, you have to give your credit card information upfront, which usually is a bad sign, but they apparently only charge $4.62 for shipping, anyway.

Nor should you buy until you read the comments about at Reseller Ratings. Right now, they have a 4.8 rating.

We have not tried these folks out, nor are we recommending them. If you decide to buy, it’s solely your responsibility. As the company itself says in its legal section:

All products sold are guaranteed to be 100% authentic, non-counterfeit. DirectDeals, Inc. is not responsible for typographic errors. Purchaser acknowledges OEM versions are intended only for resale with new PC/Hardware and purchaser assumes all liability for compliance with end user restrictions. Purchaser accepts all responsibility for full compliance with manufacture restrictions.

Since you are not buying hardware with this, this purchase is in violation of the license agreement, which may lead to the company refusing tech support, upgrades, etc..

OK, OK, You’ve Covered Your Ass, Now Shut Up, Already!!

We usually don’t talk about gray-market sales, so we’re pointing out all the potential problems on this one. This looks to be legitimate, and we can’t find anything to the contrary, but it might turn out not to be, or you may not get quite as much as you thought you were going to get. Then again, you’re not paying quite as much, either.

Email Ed

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