Beware: don't be pushed into the wrong Microsoft Office

Buying Microsoft Office in a physical store (remember them?) can be a trap for the unwary. People are being sold the wrong type of Office, instead they are pushed to the best option for the salesperson.

We’ve had questions from readers after they’ve visited a local computer store.  They’ve been misled talking to self-interested sales staff who push the biggest dollar value sale even if it’s not what the customer wants or needs.

Office Watch has seen this themselves in one major retailer when Peter tagged along with a friend buying a new computer. A few quiet words in his friends ear saved her hundreds of dollars.

Paying more for Microsoft Office and getting less

Salespeople are often working on either commission or performance bonuses which gives them an incentive to push the higher priced version of Office.  There’s nothing new about ‘upselling’ but with Microsoft Office it can mean people paying a lot more for much less.

It also means retail salespeople have an incentive to sell a product that Microsoft would prefer them not to push on customers.

Buying Microsoft Office 101

To understand the trap, let’s start with the variations on “Microsoft Office” sold in retail stores:

  • Subscription or annual payment “Microsoft 365”. This comes in two ways; Personal (one user, retail US$70) or Family (six users, retail US$100).  It contains all the major Office apps (Windows, Mac and portable), including Outlook and can be installed on many devices for each user. There are regular updates with new and changed features. Additional benefits like 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage and 60 minutes of calls to phone lines via Skype.
    Microsoft 365 costs less ‘up front’ but is more profitable for Microsoft over time.
  • Single Payment or perpetual license in Microsoft-speak. “Office 2021” has recently replaced “Office 2019”.  Pay a higher price for a single use of Office software on one computer only.  Windows and Mac products are separate (no switching between the two). Fewer features than the subscription Office with no feature updates.  No extra benefits and short support period for security/bug fixes.
    Office 2021 comes in three main bundles (with separate choices for Windows or Mac). 
    • Home and Student with Word, Excel and PowerPoint only. US$150.
    • Home and Business adds Outlook 2021 to the mix. US$250
    • Professional ‘the lot’ with  Word 2021 , Excel 2021, PowerPoint 2021, Outlook 2021 plus Publisher 2021 and Access 2021 (Windows only).  US$440

Office 2021 or Office 2019 costs more ‘up front’ which is good for salespeople on commission.

Going for the higher priced product

It’s understandable that salespeople will push Office 2021 ($150 or more) over the lower priced Microsoft 365 first year ($100). It’s how store commission or other incentives work.

Usually the more expensive product is an upgrade from the cheaper option.  That’s NOT the case with Office 2021 vs Microsoft 365. They are very different options for getting similar (not the same) software.

Another trick is encouraging sales of Office 2021 Home and Business with Outlook even if the customer doesn’t want it. After all, that adds another $100 to their sales figures. Sales lines like “If you use email, you’ll need Outlook” can persuade the unwary.

Even better for them, if the customer buys Office 2021 Professional because it’s “the best” not understanding it has two programs they might not use or even need.

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More Office 2019 buying scams on Amazon and Ebay

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