Protect yourself buying Microsoft Office from Amazon or Ebay


After the report of pirated / illegal Microsoft Office from an Amazon retailer (and Amazon’s initial refusal to act) how can you protect yourself from a similar problem on Amazon or other sites?

Your entitlement to a refund or redress for a illegal product is different depending on whether you buy from Amazon itself or a third-party seller working with Amazon.

Protect yourself

Only buy from reputable retailers.  Use outlets that have a good online reputation and have been trading for some time.  Ebay and Amazon merchants show their star rating, customer feedback and how long they have been operating on that site.

Microsoft wants people to buy direct from their web site but that’s not a smart move.  The Microsoft Store charges the highest price for their products.  You don’t get anything better or faster buying direct from Microsoft, just less money in your pocket.

Most retailers sell the main Office products at a discount from the Microsoft Store price.  As we type this Amazon US is selling a year of Office 365 Home for $85 instead of Microsoft’s $100 for the same thing. That 10-15% discount is typical.

Amazon not only sells products directly, there’s also an option for other sellers to offer the same product.  You pay Amazon, but the other company supplies the goods.  That company is responsible for any complaint, refund or warranty dispute – not Amazon.

It’s not always clear that Amazon isn’t suppling the goods.  Just because the product is being sold on a ‘main’ product page doesn’t mean it’s coming from Amazon themselves.  This Office 2013 Professional is sold by another company with the keycard shipped from an Amazon warehouse.

There’s a line on the page ‘Sold by …. and fulfilled by Amazon’. The retailer has sent their goods in bulk to Amazon’s warehouse for shipping to individual customers (‘fulfilled by Amazon’).

On the right column is a link to ‘Other sellers’.  If you choose one of these retailers, check their overall rating and number of ratings.  Rating over 95% over a year should be OK.

Avoid third-party sellers

For software like Microsoft Office, we generally avoid third-party sellers on Amazon or Ebay.  Mostly because of concerns about pirated software but also because the price saving isn’t that great.

Usually the Amazon direct price for Office bundles is pretty good so we don’t need to use third-party alternatives.  Amazon’s direct MS Office prices are usually among the cheapest around anyway.

It’s a different story for older versions of Office which sometimes are only available from smaller retailers.  Microsoft and major stores focus on the latest version of Office and Windows.


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