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MSN $400 Rebate in CA and OR Stopped 321

djneko writes "Looks like it was the real deal with the MSN instant rebate thing, because Microsoft pulled the deal in California and Oregon today after approximately half the state flocked to Best Buy and Office Depot to get their free toys. " I did hear from several people who got it, and others who didn't.
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MSN $400 Rebate in CA and OR Stopped

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  • the 400 free was just the Beta?!?!
  • Apparently Microsoft's lawyers were a little too busy with other matters and managed to overlook this one.

    And people say that big government is useless.. Hah!

  • I laugh in microsoft's general direction. Silly goats.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    haha.. it's true.. i went to 4 bestbuys today around the so cal area and there were lines of 20 plus people.. it was hilarious... everything was literally looted, especially DVD players and TV's.. well i got my geeforce and a new soundblaster live! so it's all good.. thank you uncle gates!
  • by _LORAX_ ( 4790 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @04:57AM (#1394890) Homepage
    So if MSN cannot illegally bundle products with a loan why can the cell phone comanies still do it? They build a repayment schedule into the cost of the service for the phones. Why do you think most of them have early termination clauses in the contract?

    Why hasn't anyone complained about them?
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak.yahoo@com> on Friday January 07, 2000 @04:57AM (#1394891) Homepage Journal
    A Microsoft spokesman said today that Microsoft regretted pulling the deal. "We just didn't realise that waving $400 in people's faces might result in them taking it."

    It was later confirmed that they had planned to step up in $400 increments, until they rivalled some of the State lotteries in America, in an attempt to prove that all MSN subscribers were winners.

    Rumours that Microsoft had sent three agents to destroy Slashdot, who's posting of the article on the deal is believed to have caused the massive take-up, were denied. In an issued statement, it was claimed that no such action was even possible, on account of there being no "Start" button.

  • this is the funniest move i've seen them pull yet!
    what were they thinking?!
    did anyone here get in on it? what was the procedure like?
  • by Amphigory ( 2375 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @05:01AM (#1394893) Homepage
    As much as I dislike Microsoft, is it really right to take their money in this fashion? I mean, it's kind of like stealing candy from a baby. And the clear intent of the agreement was that you have MSN service for three years -- some lawyer at MSN's corporate offices made a mistake -- which was compounded by some flunky believing in the good will of the citizens of California.

    And everyone took advantage of their vulnerability and kicked them while they were down. Granted, Microsoft is not exactly the nicest company on the planet. But should we really stoop to their level?

  • by Sargent1 ( 124354 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @05:02AM (#1394894)
    The Silicon Valley News article touched on the debatable morality of taking advantage of a loophole like this. Personally, as much as Microsoft irritates me, and as much as I'd like to see Microsoft in a less dominant position in the marketplace, screwing them out of money this way ain't gonna make things right.

    Yeah, I know, the company's worth gazillions, they can afford this mistake, and it is their own mistake. But I don't see how exploiting this loophole does anything other than steal money from them. One of the things I like about the open-source movement and Linux as an alternative to Microsoft's products is that, in the open source world, things take place in the light of day. This, though -- this is the kind of act I'd be embarassed to tell people about.

    Imagine that, instead of a discount loophole, this was a security hole in an open-source program. Morally, I'd want to report it rather than exploit it.

  • > everything was literally looted, especially DVD players and TV's

    Wonder if this is big enough to influence the index of orders for durable goods this quarter?

    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • by kramer ( 19951 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @05:04AM (#1394896) Homepage
    So if MSN cannot illegally bundle products with a loan why can the cell phone comanies still do it? They build a repayment schedule into the cost of the service for the phones. Why do you think most of them have early termination clauses in the contract

    Because if you'd read the new article, you'd know Microsoft CAN do it. Microsoft misinterperted the law, and is actually offering a rebate and not a loan. As such they are not subject to the "no purchase with a loan" rule. They probably should have known this, but it appears their lawyers are a bunch of fuck-ups. The termination of the program in CA and OR is proabbaly just temporary while the work out a deal that doesn't require them to give everyone $400.
  • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @05:04AM (#1394897) Homepage
    at any location authorised to refund unused bundled new PC software OS & Application license fees per the EULA.

  • As worded in the famous finding of fact writen by judge Jckson, "Microsoft enjoys monopoly power". Once a company is deemed to have monopoly power over it's relivant market, the rules change to help the market open to compitition.

    The key differance between the OS market and the cell phone market, is that nobody has the cell phone market locked up tight.

  • If Bill Gates was walking down the street handing out $400 bills (ok, 4 $100 bills), would you let him pass on by, or would you stick your hand out with the rest of us. I know what I'd do! and it ain't the moral high ground... ;)

    On a more on-topic note: it seems as though this whole thing got started when Microsoft "assumed" it understood the law in question. I'm sure they have enough high-paid lawyers in their organization that they could have checked it out ahead of time. They didn't. They assumed, and we all know what that means...

  • And if they don't honor the contract, don't be passive, complain in every way, escalate the incident to the top.

    I say this is that pretty soon, if you want to buy a computer at any store at the advertised price, you will have to buy it with a free "marketing research" rebate certificate with some long term strings attatched. How long will it take for that rebate check to be mailed? Not to mention basic internet service is going to be very competitive and cheap in a year. What if you buy two computers? Two internet rebates. Oh, goody!

    Fight this gimmick. Its evil.
  • Obviously, more people than myself would take Microsoft up on their "offer"; If I had lived in CA or OR, I definitely would have made it to my local Best Buy. People can spout morality of it all to the ends of the earth, but I would bet that 1/2 to 3/4 of the world's population just wouldn't care....

    gimme gimme gimme!
  • But Bill Gates wasn't walking down the street passing out $400. There was a clear quid pro quo implied -- even if it wasn't in the contract.

    And I would not have taken advantage of it. I happen to believe that taking advantage of this would be fraudulent at best. Since when did all of America turn into a bunch of latrine lawyers?

  • Microsoft misunderstood and thought they were required to do this by law? Shouldn't that be, Microsoft's lawyer's misunderstood... and probably because a poorly worded law, written by other lawyers, was ambiguous. And out of that pool of lawyers come politicians who select, from that pool of lawyers, judges and patent clerks...

    I don't want to engage in totally mindless lawyer bashing. We need a legal system, ours is pretty good, but it is also important to remind us and them from time to time that lawyers are fallible people and they should keep that in the front of their minds when they do stuff like crush eToy.

    In this case, for a change, a rapacious and immoral monopolist accidently gave back a crumb of the wedding cake it has stolen over the past decade and a half. Best cake I've had in a while!

  • You could probably consider "half the state flocking to Best Buy to get their free toys" a mass hack - a bunch of people exploit a rebate loophole defraud Microsoft of $400 each.

    Has anyone looked around on the 'net for a Perl script that will get the rebate automatically? Some Oregon skr1pt k1dd13s can't figure how to do it manually.
  • This has nothing to do with Microsoft being a monopoly.

    Please reread the article.
  • I don't know if this was "kicking them while they are down". If I lived in CA I sure would have taken their rebate. I'm currently an MSN customer, (no flames please, old e-mail acct. and my wife uses it) and although their service generally sucks, free stuff is free stuff.

    I really dont beleive this was a "some lawyer"(Singular) mistake. There had to have been many marketing, co-branding and sr. management types involved with this. This was a full blown project in my view and unfortunately for the, a pretty poor one.

  • But I don't see how exploiting this loophole does anything other than steal money from them.

    True, but probably irrelevant. If people were guanteed immunitity for jimmying a window at Gates Mansion, stepping through, opening the safe behind the protrait of Melinda, removing 400 bucks and leaving quietly the same way then there would almost certainly be a queue to do that too.

    Plain fact is: Gates ain't much loved by a lot of people.

    Regards, Ralph.

  • It falls on deaf ears. Half the people submitting badly spelled comments is bad enough, but the terrible grammar and spelling on the main page really makes the site look bad. Still, since most people seem to ignore it, either they're too stupid to notice, or are just less fussy than me... ;)

    "Some smegger's filled in this 'Have You Got A Good Memory?' quiz!"
  • They probably should have known this, but it appears their lawyers are a bunch of fuck-ups.

    That ain't nice. Give 'em a break.

    All of Microsoft's good lawyers are busy playing with Judge Jackson. Bill probably saw a television commercial featuring one of Seattle's finest, talked him out of chasing ambulances and hired him to write the contract. It was an honest mistake.

    (I just wish I was in CA or OR instead of FL.)

    I love for one of the Slashdot crew to call Best Buy and see how their sales figures yesterday. I wouldn't be surprised if they did better yesterday than in the pre-Christmas rush.


  • Yah, and time and again, courts have ruled that implicit agreements don't have the same importance as explicity one's. Blah Blah...

    Calling 'taking advantage of the "offer"' fraudulent makes it sound illegal. It's not. It's exploiting a loophole in an agreement. Note, that in my original post, I stated that accepting the "offer" clearly isn't taking the moral high ground...

    As to taking candy from a baby... try taking candy from a RICH baby, who routinely exploits computer users with their EULA-babble and who has ample legal resources at hand but didn't bother utilizing them.

    And no, I'm not trying to be a lawyer... I'm merely using what usually passes for common sense.

  • everybody hates those "free stuff for internet contract" deals anyway. maybe this will help people and businesses realize they are trash.
  • Cmdr Taco. I doubt you did there, because you're in Michigan... *grammar check* complete ;-)

    For those of you who missed it

    "I did here"

    Scott Ruttencutter
  • Imagine that, instead of a discount loophole, this was a security hole in an open-source program. Morally, I'd want to report it rather than exploit it.
    It was reported, but then Microsoft saying "Ha! Well no one is going to cancel MSN" is the equivalent of saying "No one's going to exploit this security flaw so I'm not going to fix it" instead of fixing it, people will take advantage of it if they can. When they have finally done so, Microsoft is now forced to correct the loophole by first pulling the deal and then amending the agreement.

    It fits your model perfectly! :)

  • Yeah, I know, the company's worth gazillions, they can afford this mistake, and it is their own mistake. But I don't see how exploiting this loophole does anything other than steal money from them.

    As several other people have pointed out earlier, it's not as if Microsoft didn't know that this was possible when they drafted the CA and OR contracts. This isn't some small loophole that they overlooked, this is Microsoft deliberately handing out money. They were betting that far fewer people would notice this than otherwise, and unfortunately they lost. I mean, say Bill Gates walks up to you and draws up a contract stating that he will give you one hundred thousand dollars if a coin flip comes up heads, would you refuse to accept the money if it did?

  • by Robert Wilde ( 78174 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @05:30AM (#1394917)
    Best Buy and the others have advertisements in displaying this deal all over California. There are laws that specifically forbid companies from advertising products or services that they don't have in stock.

    I don't see how Best Buy can not honor your request for the $400 rebate if you show up between now and whatever date is printed on one of their newspaper advertisements. Taking advantage of the MS loophole may be unethical, but a retailer not honoring an advertisement is akin to breaking a contract and well established legal terrain.
  • Yah, and time and again, courts have ruled that implicit agreements don't have the same importance as explicity one's. Blah Blah...

    ... often in Microsoft's favor. How many times has Microsoft used the small print to screw their collaborators? I think it was someone at 3Com who heard something to the effect of "You were wrong to trust us" from a Microsoft employee.

    Okay, maybe people shouldn't stoop to their level, but if a company (any company) is stupid enough to allow such a big loophole through, they deserve all they get.
  • Sure was.. I hit every Best Buy within driving distance, and their shelves were -bare-. No goodies for me. Oh well, I'll actually have to -pay- for a new DVD player. The outrage!
  • by TheDullBlade ( 28998 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @05:34AM (#1394921)
    Of all the ideals of our modern culture, I think these are the dumbest:
    "don't stoop to their level"
    "if you respond in kind, you're no better than them"
    "even if you know, from the evidence of your own senses, that someone is guilty of a crime, and you are in a bad situation far from your society's enforced law and order, they must be given a 'fair trial' by some authority who doesn't have first-hand knowledge"

    What these have in common is that they seem to be about justice, but they're really about reserving the right to punish wrongdoers exclusively for the state. Direct action is no less moral, it just takes back power for the individual.

    If someone legally, through consentual agreements, yet still against your will (for example, you neither wanted nor had any use for Windows or MS-DOS, but it's cost was unavoidably included in a computer you bought), takes your money, then you shouldn't feel bad about doing the same back to them.

    It is just the same as if someone steals your car, and there are no police around to take it back (or car theft isn't illegal...); you would be fully morally justified in sneaking up and taking the car back, or in stealing other goods of equal value, or, for that matter, in beating the hell out of the prick and taking your car, and maybe whatever else he's got lying around, with a warning that next time you'll kill him (punishment has to be greater than the profit from the crime to be an effective deterrent).

    However, going out and stealing someone else's car would really be stooping to their level...
  • Hey, this will sound totally crazy :) but what if it ***wasn't a mistake***... As in, people (wider community) get to vent some steam towards MS, community opinion changes somewhat... There's a thought. Or is MS not that smart. Yeh, probabley latter. Hmm, on second thoughts, maybe it is just crazy...
  • actually, it wasn't legal incompetance. The deal's fine print clearly (well, clearly in legalese) stated that CA and Oregon residents were not required to comit to the deal --indeed it says they are not required to pay back the $400. It seems to me more either an acounting screw-up (to get the losses incurred noted in accounts as a loan --therefore equaling capital, rather than an expediture) or a marketing mistake.
  • YES it's really right. M$ and their lawyers are in charge of looking after their money, and we are in charge of looking out for ourselves. If they lay down on their "fiduciary duty" to make money it's up to us to take advantage of that. It's not a friendly game of tennis, it's *business.* They have plenty of resources to take care of themselves and to step all over anyone they want to. If they offer a deal that's not as advantageous to them as they might prefer they'll figure that out soon enough--looks like they already have. In the meantime, however, I'm glad that the deal proved advantageous to others.
  • This is easy "sorry sir we are currently out of the rebate forms, we should have more in appx one week if you would like to stop back." And this is legal
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yah, and time and again, courts have ruled that implicit agreements don't have the same importance as explicity
    The Grammar Police wish to notify you of violating the Law of the Plurals. One does not form one's plurals by the addition of an apostrophe and an s, but rather one's possessives or contractions. I think you'll find that one's got enough problems of one's own not to be compounding them with improper plurals. The plural of four is fours; the plural of ten is tens; and the plural of one is simply ones.

    Then there's the strange issue of explicity. Looks like I'm going to have to write you two tickets today, mister. This is your punishment from cutting English class for 15 years in a row.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft Reportedly Cancels $400 Merchandise Rebate Tied To Web Access

    Dow Jones Online News, Friday, January 07, 2000 at 09:33

    LOS ANGELES -(Dow Jones)- Software giant Microsoft Corp. reportedly has canceled an Internet-access rebate that allowed hundreds of people to sign up for its online service, spend the $400 rebate on electronic equipment and then cancel the Internet service the next day.

    "Unfortunately, a few people are abusing a program designed to help people access the Internet," company spokesman Tom Pilla said in Friday's Los Angeles Times, confirming that the Redmond, Wash.-based company had canceled the program in California effective Friday, according to the Associated Press.

    People lined up for as long as four hours Thursday at some Southern California stores to order Microsoft-provided Internet service and use their rebates to purchase merchandise. Many said they planned to cancel the service the next day.

    The rebate agreement was supposed to commit consumers to paying for several years of Internet service, but those who have signed up for the rebate in California and Oregon apparently can cancel Microsoft Network access immediately without penalty, the L.A. Times reported.

    In California and Oregon, Microsoft had to change the terms of its rebate because of the way it interpreted an obscure law regulating consumer lenders, the L.A. Times said. In those states, a consumer could walk in, spend $8 on $408 worth of electronics, agree to the Internet deal and cancel the next day without having to return the rebate money.

    Microsoft offered the rebate all over the country with the condition in most states that people must return the $400 rebate if they cancel the Internet service early. But the company said loopholes in state laws prevented them from putting that provision into effect in California and Oregon.

    Oh well. It's a gutless promotion that preys on bottom-feeders anyway. What ever happened to value?

    "But, Lord Bill, you said release Microsoft's wallet!" "You Fool! I said Microsoft Wallet!"

  • From what I've read, the contract clearle stated that Cali and Or residents could cancel without repayment. This wasn't a 'loophole', this was a clearly stated, written out, clause.

    You can only blame MS for thinking that people would want to stay with MSN. Let's face it people. $400 is $400, and only a fool would give pass up on a chance for $400 for free.

  • I'm sure plenty of /. readers remember the Hitachi Superscan monitor fiasco at buy.com. A weekend error on the retailer's web site listed a near-$600 19" monitor for something like $154.

    Hundreds of excited shoppers and capitalists flooded buy.com with orders in an attempt to cash in on the store's mistake. A few days went by and the price was fixed, but the damage had already been done to the tune of several thousand orders.

    After much confusion, buy.com announced they would fulfill the orders for the 150-some monitors they had in stock, and cancel the rest. Message boards, newsgroups, and web sites all over lit up with complaints about being "ripped off" or being caught as the victim of a bait and switch. More honest and understanding consumers (like me, of course) realized that we would be lucky to get such a great bargain, but if it fell through, we had no right to complain.

    I personally placed an order for a monitor, but when I finally got a cancellation notice two weeks later, I shook it off and went on with my life. What about the people who ordered a dozen monitors and set up auctions on eBay before they even had them in their possession? Those were the guys screaming class action suit, crying that they got ripped off, and demanding justice at the hands (and pocketbook) of buy.com.

    Well folks, no one got ripped off in that case. I admit in trying to get a bargain because of the error of someone else. When it fell through, I moved on with my life and kept my eyes peeled for the next poor fool to accidentally list something at one-fourth of the expected price. Best Buy and their phantom $400 rebate from Microsoft--it's the same situation.

    A few lucky people took advantage early and walked out with DVD players and stereos for $400 cheaper then they should have. And thousands more were turned away before they could take advantage of a slip-up by the legal department at MS. Yeah, it would have been nice to get away with a nice bonus, however morally questionable--but when you get headed off before you can take advantage, there is no right to complain.

    Microsoft and Best Buy responded in the only way we could really expect them to. If you didn't get your free money, let it go and move on. Given the continuing trend for slashed prices and instant rebates, we can expect something like this to happen again soon enough. Just be sure to take the deal before the unfortunate victim catches on!
  • by delevant ( 133773 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @05:46AM (#1394933)
    Well, one way to look at it (as mentioned by another poster in this thread, above) would be to say that "It is my fiduciary duty to my shareholders to take advantage of this financial windfall". See, if you treat yourself like a corporate entity, these things are easier to justify.

    Perhaps the most persuasive argument (to me) however, is this:

    1. Microsoft has zillions of lawyers and accountants.
    2. Microsoft has zillions of executives.
    3. The lawyers, accountants, and executives all decided that this scam of theirs was a good idea.
    4. They collectively decided that this was a gamble worth taking, and they went for it.
    5. As so often happens in gambling, the other side (us citizens) won.
    Microsoft took a shot, and they lost. Big deal. I feel no guilt in taking the money of someone that bet, and lost -- especially if they can afford it.

    In fact, I feel pretty good about it . . .

  • by Benjamin Shniper ( 24107 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @05:51AM (#1394936) Homepage
    Let's face it; if Red Hat or Corel or Caldera offered a service deal in a loan, as Microsoft did it's MSN deal, then suddenly morality changes?

    Well it doesn't. There is NO MORAL DIFFERENCE between murderring a bad man and murderring a good one. And there is no moral difference between legalized theft from a good company or a bad one.

    Just because the law can't punish you doesn't mean it's somehow a correct action! If you were *allowed* to shoot Bill Gates, would you? If your answer is "no, I wouldn't do that" then consider how much it really matterred to you whether you were allowed to do something by the government!

  • yeah, but is it right for them to charge the amount that they do for windows and office and many other product?

    just think of it as microsoft giving people a fair market value for their software.
  • 1) Grammar 2) Spelling is not grammar, whatever anal retentive school marms will tell you.
  • I love how when the story broke, Microsoft officials claimed they weren't worried since they've had so few people cancel their ISP service. Talk about clueless.

    Microsoft Translation: "I have no idea what you're talking about. You are quoting legal mumbo-jumbo to me and all I hear is cracks and buzzes. Our legal team is working on something else right now, so rather than issue an inteligent comment, I'll just spout off some company rhetoric and everything will be peachy just like it always is."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I went to the California San Carlos store. The line was about 5 hours long. There were no more DVD players, Dreamcasts, Speaker systems, Bookshelf system, portable CD players, and anything with the word Sony on it over $200.00. It was really funny. I have never seen anything like it before, the store was almost empty. The scam was that they only had one register open. But one of the sales associates wised up and selling the extended rebate to the people in line. But hey most people went to the Best Buy, got their stuff, while on the phone cancelling their account, went across the parking lot over to Office depot and got more stuff. The line was only a couple minutes long there it would have been shorter if the guy would have learned to type.
  • . . . why are you still here, and why should anybody care what you think?

    Ohhh, how foolish of me, I forgot -- you don't actually want to make constructive criticism, you'd rather rant and throw your little toys around.

    Here's a tip that you clearly need:

    Take a deep breath, and count to ten before you say anything.
    The next time you feel like ranting, follow the advice above, and then try to come up with something constructive you could do to help the situation!

    After all, simply screaming about a "morass of half-assed-ness" doesn't really do anybody any good, and it makes you look about as appealing as the gum I just scraped off my shoe.

  • In a more guerilla tactic, what if this had
    been the same law nation wide? Could you imagine,
    100 million people flocking to stores, looting
    microsoft of $40billion. They could afford it,
    but stockholders wouldn't be happy. They'd lose
    all trust & respect with their huge retail partners like best buy, office max, staples, circuit city, fryes, j&r, etc, etc.. Bringing them
    back down to human status..

    We don't want microsoft dead (really :), we need
    microsoft and their products as an example of what
    not to do. Microsoft is a prime example of how products shouldn't be.
  • "Grammer Police..."

    tsk, tsk, tsk...

    It's an inescapable rule that those who complain about others' mistakes make one themselves in correcting them.

    Now someone gets to find mine...

  • Why don't you just vote with your dollars? That's what we always do anyway. For example, I'll never again sign up for 1) analog cellular service, and 2) mobile phone service that requires a contract. NEVER. I've purchased a GSM phone (BellSouth Mobility DCS) and CDMA phone (Sprint PCS). Both because I refuse to sign a contract requiring a year of service - it's ridiculous! (As an aside, I hate CDMA - I wish Sprint used GSM! It's such a superior technology.)

    When I was in college, I voted for SCSI, OS/2, and NeXT (still have a Cube - way cool machine). Unfortunately only SCSI won.

    This is similar to the Star Wars: Episode I on DVD issue from the other day. You guys are wanting to vote with your dollars. Unfortunately you can't vote for a non-existant product (e.g. SW:TPM on DVD).

  • Considering that this is the company that has used it's enormous size to require most new pc buyers to get purchase their software whether they wanted to or not for years, a practice legally considered anti-competetive, there is absolutely nothing morally objectionable about those users taking advantage of the inability of such an elephantine organization to know what is going on among it's parts, and recoup a little money. I say, fuck them. They left themselves open to being fucked, and it's time they got fucked.
  • If you are willing to drive there and back for $400 dollars, that is.

    Then they are obligated to, unless the form is have the Nevada legalese only.
  • Yes Microsoft have made a mistake that has effectively led to them giving away money. However my feeling is until Microsoft start paying compensation for bugs in their programs (which after all are in theory due to a programmer making a mistake) they should just swallow the loss. If they were to provide refunds or free upgrades to (for example) people running MS Exchange Server 5.0 (which cannot be configured to prevent spmmaers abusing it to send junk e-mail without paying to upgrade to 5.5) people will have a lot more sympathy for their current plight.

  • "There is NO MORAL DIFFERENCE between murderring a bad man and murderring a good one."

    What if he is executed? Do you really think it's moral for the state and not for the individual? Of course not, trials and government authority and other formalities have nothing to do with morality, they are just a practical system for everyone to agree on one course of action (and hopefully the moral one).

    Since you seem to be using it as a narrow example to illustrate a broad point, I'll assume you mean that for every crime, not just murder.

    How about imprisoning an evil man? Taking back stolen goods?

    It is not immoral to punish the guilty. However, this is not about that.

    If I could legally take any amount of money (from a dollar to a billion dollars) from Bill Gates I would. Did he earn the money? Of course not, no single individual can earn such a vast fortune, and it's debatable whether he's ever done a useful and productive thing for society (as opposed to hurting society for his own profit) in his work at Microsoft. His only claim to it over mine (or anyone else's claim) is legal; he has no moral claim to this unearned fortune. Therefor, taking his money would be, at worst, a morally neutral act. Morally neutral and personally beneficial, hmm... I wouldn't have to think about it for very long.

    I wouldn't shoot Bill Gates, much as I dislike him. It's not like he's a real dictator who orders his enemies tortured and murdered. It would be morally wrong to shoot him for no reason.
  • by dillon_rinker ( 17944 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @06:25AM (#1394972) Homepage
    the debatable morality of taking advantage of a loophole like this

    I question the debatable morality involved in advertising a computer for $399 when it actually costs $799. I question the morality of shrink-wrap licenses. I question the morality of lying, cheating, and stealing (harsh words, but I believe accurate) to make a profit. I question the morality of lobbying the government to cut the funding of the department that's trying to prosecute you. I don't think that MS has a leg to stand on if they complain about people taking advantage of them. (Aside - I'd love to know if the SV News article had its roots in Redmond.)

    Many would argue "Two wrongs don't make a right." This presupposes that forcing Microsoft to obey the law is wrong, which is a laughable proposition. Some might suggest that this is taking advantage of Microsoft's ignorance of California and Oregon law. Given the size of their legal department, and given the fact that they've lobbied nearly every state government to change laws to favor shrink-wrap licenses, I'd have to laugh at this suggestion, too.

    If someone was passing out $100 bills on the street, would it be taking advantage of them to accept the money? I don't see any difference.
  • you know, that comment doesn't really make sense. I mean, you're trying to say that I'm the one that sucks a fat pile of shit, but the sentence you employed to do this doesn't really work. I mean, the experience from which I speak might be actually watching you suck the aforementioned shit pile. Or it might be with other shitsuckers like you. I realize you meant, takes one to know one, or something like that. But all you've proved is that you're a shitsucker.
    Once again. Oh, and there's 1 R is shitsucker.
  • I respectfully disagree. Just because they do it to others and they left themselves open should not be a good enough excuse, IMO.

    Yeah, they are jerks. Yeah, they abuse contracts to their advantage when it suits 'em. Yeah, its funny as hell that they got caught with their pants down and thousands tried to take advantage.

    I'm not saying those that did go for this were wrong, or unethical, I'm just saying that I wouldn't have, only because I want to continue to think that somehow I belong to a community that is above the dirty tricks that we acuse Microsoft of. (Boy, that was badly worded, but I don't hae the energy to fix it this morning!)

    Put it another way:

    Microsoft is stupid and not well-liked, they left themselves open to being taken advantage of by consumers who obviously have little or no respect for them. Microsoft pulls this while they continue the facade that this was intended to 'help people get affordably connected to the internet' and 'only a few people were trying to abuse the offer' while their apparent intent was to buy MSN subscribers and it blew up in their face.

    Good enough for me. That's worth more than $400 dollars to me to have the smug satisfaction that they are slime and I wouldn't give them the satisfaction of even giving them my name and address and CC number in excahange for $400 regardless if I would get it back by exploiting a loophole in their own dumb agreement.

    My, we like ourselves quite a lot, don't we. Just have to say a little prayer against you...
    And then a little superior dance...
    Who could have written that little agreement, Billy... hmmmm?? Could it have been...



  • The danger to this mindset is that many people leap before they look. Consider this scenario:

    Someone steals your car, takes a joyride, and leaves in parked out in front of my house. You find your car, knock on my door, and beat me up.

    The reason society discourages undo response to a crime is that some people won't check, recheck and check again the "facts" before acting.

    I'm all for a citizen stopping a crime in progress (try breaking into my home whilst I'm there, and you'll be given a very good demonstration of my belief), but if the immediate threat is over, then we should use due deliberation before action. After all, once you've beaten somebody up, you cannot "unbeat them down".

    And besides, you never know if the person you are about to beat up is tougher and better trained than you.

  • by drdanny ( 119035 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @06:39AM (#1394987)
    I just loved the line halfway down the Mercury News article where it states:

    "On Thursday, the state Department of Corporations said the law doesn't apply to Microsoft."

    How apt!

    "The Law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich, as well as the poor, to sleep under the bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." -- Anatole France

  • I don't like microsoft any more than the next guy but why would anyone encourage another person to rip them off. It's just wrong. Not to mention you've taken a deal which can help the financially challenged get a computer and come into the information age, even if not a day late (and a dollar [400 shorter now] short).

    Must be that fine christian upbringing CmdrTaco has.

    Somehow, I don't think God would approve.

    They are a threat to free speech and must be silenced! - Andrea Chen
  • This reminds me of a plan that some friends of mine used to get free CD's. You are probably familiar with BMG's offer of a 11 or 12 of CD's for the price of one. Well you get the first 7 for free (plus shipping) and then you have to buy 1 cd in the next year, at which time you get 3 or 4 more free cd's. Well, some friends of mine got the idea that they couldn't be held liable to a contract because you aren't supposed to enter into a contract with a minor. Essentially, they would take their CD's, and when they got a message about payment, they would return a jovial reply to the affect of, in different words mind you, screw you guys. I'm under 18. Have a nice day. Believe it or not, this actually worked. It's completely morally and ethically wrong but it just goes to show you that companies need to plan better for things like this.

  • When you screw Microsoft it's not just BIll Gates you're screwing. Microsoft is a publicly held company. It's part of most of the Mutual Funds most people can choose from in their 401K plans. So I'd like to point out that a lot of morally lacking people just legally stole money from the retirement funds of millions of individuals. Justify it however you please, taking advantage of this reduces you to the level of an ambulance chaseing lawyer.
  • by gotan ( 60103 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @07:05AM (#1395009) Homepage
    Another news that microsoft might soon learn is, that the loophole wasn't only good for ripping off $400 but also gives customers who participated in the program a cheap way out and thus an opportunity to rethink the deal. If they still think it was a good one they can even cancel the old contract and do it a second time (they even get a 'fairer' contract that way :-) ).
  • by jd ( 1658 )
    First, Microsoft went into this with their eyes open. They knew the risks, they weighed the odds. "You pays your money, you takes your choice."

    Second, nobody forced Microsoft to offer the deal in these two States in the first place. They did so of their own free will. If people choose to take them at their word, AND make a few bucks off it, it's a little harsh to blame the customer.

    Last, but not least, there's this quote from the article: "[T]he state Department of Corporations said the law doesn't apply to Microsoft". There are a number of ways to read this, but after the Refund Day fiasco and the "Finding of Fact" in the DoJ case, none of them are terribly favourable to the Redmond crowd.

  • by Mr_Plow ( 30965 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @07:11AM (#1395014)
    Unlike customers in most states, residents of California and Oregon were allowed to cancel the $21.95-a-month subscription and still keep the $400 because Microsoft believed that state laws required penalty-free cancellation.

    After California officials said Thursday that Microsoft misunderstood the law, the company decided to temporarily suspend the program, effective today. The suspension comes despite Best Buy advertisements that say it will continue through Feb. 29 and Office Depot ads that say it will continue until March 31.

    ------------------------------------------------ ----------
  • it's an agreement that keeps me from installing this perfectly good copy of NT on some new computers, instead I have to buy a new copy. If an agreement (from the same company!) makes it legal for me to "screw" them out of $400, I'm all for following it.

    Anybody who brings up moral arguments about money when dealing in business with a corporation should get their head checked. You KNOW they will do everything in their power to get your money, you must treat them likewise or get walked all over. 50 points to whoever read the fine print on this one.
  • Yesterday I'd say I had about $400 worth of mental anguish trying to get Win98 to play nice with 3 other OSes at work for a workstation that I'll have some off site developers using for the next 3 weeks. Nevermind the millions of dollars worth of mental anguish I've suffered at the hands of their software in the past.

    If I were to put a pricetag on the total amount of mental anguish Microsoft has caused me in the course of my career, I'd say between 4 and 6 million dollars. Several hundred thousand of that having gone toward antacids, pain killers and alcohol necessary to help me cope with their products. Therefore if Microsoft were to be offering a rebate for mental anguish for up to, say, $10 million, I'd only ask for $6 million. On the other hand, if I could squeeze $400 out of Microsoft with no strings attached, I'd feel absolutely no guilt in doing so (Unfortunately I'm not in California or Oregon.)

  • by Hartford ( 20635 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @07:33AM (#1395027)

    Thousands of otherwise uninterested customers signed a clearly quid pro quo contract with every intention of breaking it, so that they could pocket $400 that Microsoft never intended to give away. Why would they do that? Because they can get away with it. In a different context, you might call it looting.

    Please, spare us all the bullshit hypothetical "what if Microsoft was handing out $400?" situations and the many clumsy metaphors that have been moderated +5. That's called justification, and it's a cheap technique to make yourself feel better.

    You're cashing in on a technical blooper for your own personal advancement -- frankly, opportunism and exploitation are not becoming of Slashdot. If you just get off on sticking it to The Man, go deface a website or something.

    My distaste for Microsoft's strong-arm tactics is as strong as the next guy's, but it's a little hard to take the moral high ground when you're fucking your best friend's wife.

  • "There is NO MORAL DIFFERENCE between murderring a bad man and murderring a good one."

    That may be true, but that has nothing to do with this story. I agree, just because something is legal does not make it right. But I also know, just because a deal seems to favor one party more than the other does not make it wrong.

    It is MS's job to decide how it values its products and services. It is my job as a consumer to decide the value to me of those products and services. In this case, MS thought getting someone signed up for MSN was worth $400 in rebates. Some consumers thought signing up for MSN was worth $400 in rebates. Not only is this not unethical, such behavior is VERY ethical.

    For example, a friend of mine took advantage of a similar deal with MSN. (This is a real friend, not a friend-of-a-friend, or I heard about this guy who...) He buys an e-machine for $399 and at that time signs up for a 3-year term with MSN for a $400 rebate. So basically for the out-of-pocket expense of sales tax, he gets a decent computer for web surfing complete with speakers, printer, scanner, etc.

    The next day, he can't log in to MSN. He calls MSN tech support. They have no record of his account. He says, 'thank you,' and hangs up. He is never billed for the MSN service. My friend went into this deal with the honest intention of receiving and paying for 3-years of MSN service. I haven't read his service agreement, but we can presume the terms include a penalty clause in the event he cancels the service before the 3-years are up. My friend does not live in CA or OR.

    However, we can also presume the agreement also contains a clause specifying MS can change the terms of deals. (For example, I cannot decide to stop paying my credit card bills, but the company can change the interest rate I am charged at any time as long as they give me proper notice. If MS bought out AOL and decided to provide AOL service in place of MSN, I suspect that change would be allowed under the terms of the agreement.) It seems in this case MS changed the terms of the deal. Since the change works to the advantage of my friend, he agreed to the new terms. My friend did not murder any man, good or otherwise. He entered into a deal in which both sides had fair notice of the terms.

    Kozmo.com is another example. Kozmo.com delivers movie and video game rentals in my area. They charge less than Blockbuster and provide delivery in less than 1 hour. How can they charge less and deliver the goods and make a profit? I have no idea. And since I usually only order 1 rental at a time, and there is no delivery charge, I suspect they lose money every time I use their service. Am I now guilty of murderring? [sic]

    No. I am guilty of nothing. Maybe delivery is cheap because they use homeless people with rickshaws. Maybe the whole operation is a mob front and designed to lose money as a way of laundering money. I don't know, and I don't care. I know the use of a video game for 4 days is worth $3.79 to me, and that is the price I pay.

    Another example--I bought a car. I borrowed the money to pay for that car. I agreed to pay back that money over the course of 5 years and to pay interest for that time. I ended up paying off loan in about 3 years. The company that provided the loan received less money from me than they could have. The contact included a provision for paying off the loan early. If they didn't want to take the chance of me paying less interest by paying off the loan early, then they should not have agreed to the contract. If MS did not want to take the chance people would cancel the MSN service after receiving the $400 rebate, then they should not of agreed to the contract.

    "Let's face it; if Red Hat or Corel or Caldera offered a service deal in a loan, as Microsoft did it's MSN deal, then suddenly morality changes? "

    Now you're just spouting gibberish. The morality of this type of deal does not change depending on the company involved. Now I personally did not take advantage of deal in discussion here, nor do I personally know anyone who did. (My friend is in NJ, not CA or OR, and did not cancel MSN.) But from what I gather, the case in which someone signs up for MSN, gets the $400 rebate, and then cancels the service the next day is provided for in the terms of the agreement and in the law covering this type of contract. If MS can not abide by those terms it should not offer such a deal.

    At the same I as a consumer, if I feel the terms are not in my favor, should not agree to such a deal. Come on guy, how many people are going to be using a 56K dial-up in 3 years? And those that do, is it going to cost the same as it does today? The only way I'd ever agree to this kind of deal with that long of a term is if I could cancel at any time without penalty.

    To completely digress for a moment and end on an off topic note, how did by Benjamin's unrelated comments score a 3? The moral difference between murderring[sic] a bad man and murderring[sic] a good one, while an interesting topic for discussion, has nothing to do with this story. MS agreed to a deal. Thought that deal worked in its favor. Later realized it was not such a good deal. Consumers agreed to a deal. Thought that deal worked in their favor. Seems they were right.

  • Well congratulations folks - you've now managed to get the deal pulled.

    Well, that's good enough for me. I thought that the deal was just duped unsuspecting consumers myself. Now that it's gone for a short time) consumers are protected from making bad, uninformed decisions.

    Would the responses and the reporting have been the same if it were someone like VA or RedHat running a $400 back deal?

    Something tells me it would. All those Linux haters would have had a hey-day. What can you say? Maybe it *wasn't* ethical. But if the other side would have done it to you, then why act as if you are a nice "moral" guy and let them take advantage of you? You need to take your victories too, or just give up.

    I guess it's like beating up a bully. Sure it's unethical to beat someone up, but you know they are going to do it anyways. So you beat them up first to protect other innocent children.

  • by Robert Link ( 42853 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @07:46AM (#1395040) Homepage
    So, then, if you found a rare and valuable collectors' item at a rummage sale for a pittance, do you feel you would be morally obligated to inform the owner of its true value? What if you bought it at the stated price and the owner later came asking for it back (offering a refund of the purchase price, of course) because he had found out its true value? What if neither you nor the seller knew about its true value until after the deal was done?

    The generally agreed upon morality surrounding making a consensual deal between two parties of roughly equal power is that it is each party's responsibility to look out for its own interests; you don't owe it to the other guy to tell him he's making a bad deal. Now, when one party is more powerful than the other, the moral issue may be more complicated by the possibility of the strong party coercing the weak party into making a bad deal (and as I read the explanation, this was precisely the reason for the CA and OR laws prohibiting tying a loan to purchasing a service in the first place), but in this case Microsoft is clearly the strong party, so I don't think those issues apply here.

    At the end of the day, Microsoft made one kind of deal (i.e., handing out $400 with no strings attatched in OR and CA), and it wanted to pretend it had made another (i.e., buying 3 years of MSN was required). A theory of morality in which the moral position of taking advantage of the deal they actually made is comparable to the moral position of murdering someone and getting away with it through a legal loophole is at best peculiar, and certainly not in line with the generally accepted theory.


  • Not to mention you've taken a deal which can help the financially challenged get a computer and come into the information age, even if not a day late

    No the rebated was a scam, duping unsuspecting consumers into paying way to much, for way to long, for way to slow, internet access. What happens in a year when the consumers find out about Cable Modems, but can't get them because they are still locked into MSN. Will they be happy then? How does that help people get into the internet age?

    No, if consumers really want to get on the internet, they'd pay $400 *now* for a PC and then use NetZero.

  • You are truly sad and warped. Pray tell why the fuck you'd feel justified in doing so?

    Because he (in your opinion) overcharges for software which (again, in your opinion) might be flawed?

    Come and join us on planet earth some day.

  • As I read it, it's not because state laws require penalty free cancellation, but because giving the consumer $400, but requiring them to RETURN it unless they hold out their full MSN contract to the end make sthat $400 *GIFT* become a $400 consumer LOAN, and in California, it is illegal to tie a loan into the purchase of a product or service. You can't lend someone money on the condition that they use your bank for savings, etc...

    In effect, it would have been a $400 loan, and the repayment terms would have been a 3 year subscription to MSN.
  • No. If the contract clearly states that you can cancel it at any time, without penalty, then that is what you are doing. Signing it and breaking it.

    Quid pro quo? gimme a break. MS is never that up front anyway......
  • I personally think these rebates from dialup providers (MSN, Compuserve, etc...)when you sign up for a 3 year contract are immoral. They are designed to take advantage of short-sigted or uninformed users.
    Here's what I see happening. Within a year, broadband will be almost universal, and web pages will start getting more bloated. These people stuck in these contracts have three choices: Keep using dialup (may become impossible soon due to bloat), pay back the money (they may not be able to afford that upfront, because the people who buy a computer because they can get $400 off for signing up are the people who can't afford one otherwise). The third choice is they keep paying for the dialup but don't use it.
    In all three scenarios the dialup provider wins. If the customer keeps paying, but uses the service less or not at all, they can keep fewer modems up, and still take the same gross income. If they use the service for the contract, it extends a dying business for another 3 years, which is plenty of time to take profits and get out for the big companies. If the customer pays back the sum and cancels, for whatever duration the customer had the service, they were paying something above prime rate on the "rebate" and the company still makes out like a bandit.
    These rebates, no matter how they are handled, cost the customer far more than they gain. If a big company does something, it is done for just one reason, to make money. Sometimes directly, and sometimes not, but all the same, the bottom line is the motivator.
  • Seems like a consumer protection thing to me.

    These states are just asking for Truth in Advertising. If you advertise $400 in service rebates, then these States are saying that there'd better really be $400 available somewhere.

    Otherwise, you are making a false claim concerning this $400 "rebate". For example, the people who ARE paying $400 for that equivalent service could be being cheated.

    The guys selling the PCs splashing a price with the $400 removed are the one's attempting to benefit through a misleading practice and MSN is an accomplice. There would be no misrepresentation if the vendors just displayed the price you really end up paying and added "free 3 years of MSN when you buy now!" Bundling services and products together is not the problem, putting a misleading funny-money $ amount on it but not being willing to back that up with real money is the problem.

    I don't have a problem with State laws that require clear representations of what is being offerred. Do you?

    -Jordan Henderson

  • True, but probably irrelevant.
    It's not irrelevant to a discussion of morality. Stealing from Bill Gates' home is wrong. It is also illegal. Accepting a grant of immunity means that you understand this fact.

    I'm of the opinion that there's nothing wrong with understanding contract law, as long as the other party to the contract understands the law. MS has a corporate law team that's pretty big; i think it can be assumed that they should understand the law in the states where they do business. Ergo, it is NOT taking advantage of them.
  • Please. Soon you'll be saying that anything bad that happens to Microsoft is hurting anyone else with MSFT stock in their mutual fund. What a sleazy way to win over people by playing up emotion instead of reason.

    The bottom line is this deal was legitimate and people took advantage of it. I'd have done the same thing if I lived in California or Oregon, and don't consider myself worse-off, morally, for saying so.

    On a somewhat related note, however, I'm starting to question the morality and intelligence of all those that are asking "would you do this if it was RedHat offering the rebate?" Since money is money, I certainly would accept the $400 offered, and I don't see how appealing to my love of Linux versus my dislike of Microsoft would have anything to do with that.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • As much as I dislike Microsoft, is it really right to take their money in this fashion?

    I mean, it's kind of like stealing candy from a baby.
    ROTFL! This is the company who, when prosecuted by DOJ, lobbied to reduce DOJ's funding. This is the company that will sue you for piracy if you sell their OEM mouse separate from a PC. This is the company who wants to control the market for PC software. They're more like a 400 pound gorilla than a baby.

    And the clear intent of the agreement was that you have MSN service for three years -- some lawyer at MSN's corporate offices made a mistake -- which was compounded by some flunky believing in the good will of the citizens of California.
    I think you're right. The only time I have a problem with one party to a contract using their knowledge of the law to outwit the other party to the contract is when the outwitted party has vastly fewer legal resources than the outwitting party. In this case it's exactly the opposite. MS's legal team is bigger than China. They wrote a flawed contract, and they had every opportunity to recognize the flaw before the fact. In essence, they wrote a contract, and the essential parts were unenforceable, and they should have known better.

    And everyone took advantage of their vulnerability and kicked them while they were down.
    I will reiterate that I don't believe that there is anything wrong with letting Microsoft give you money. I don't think it's comparable to assault. But look at the larger picture. MS is fighting HARD to kill free software. If someone really wants to kill you, do you give them a fair fight? Or do you knock them down with a 2x4 and kick them in the ribs until they stop breathing?

    Granted, Microsoft is not exactly the nicest company on the planet.
    And absolute zero is not exactly warm...

    But should we really stoop to their level?
    Yeah, you're right. We shouldn't force Microsoft to obey the law. We should let them enforce illegal clauses in their contracts. We shouldn't ask for our money back when they try to cheat us.

  • by dillon_rinker ( 17944 ) on Friday January 07, 2000 @09:57AM (#1395107) Homepage
    You don't, or don't want to?
    I don't see the difference. Did I stutter? :)

    There's a big difference here. A better analogy would be if someone were passing out $100 bills if you agree to buy some $200 item. If you say "Sure, I'll go buy that", and then pocket the money, you are taking advantage of them, and that's wrong.
    Well, sure. What you suggest is absolutely unethical. I'd agree my analogy left out most of the details; I merely meant to point out that legally speaking, MS was offering free money. Let me modify your analogy (fair, I think, since you modified mine :).

    You're a street vendor, selling $200 watches. You have twenty lawyers standing behind you. I walk up with my one lawyer. You make your offer. My lawyer leans over and tells me "The deal is bogus; just keep the money." So I take your money. You turn around and ask your lawyers "Can he do that?" and they say "Yes." I ask you, who was at a disadvantage for legal advice in this situation?

    I make it a point to keep my word. If I say I'll do it, I'll do it. When I sign a contract, I execute my half. I expect the other party to do the same. However, if they try to rip me off by putting some illegal clause in a contract (and I would consider ANY unenforceable clause to be illegal - why else would the government say it's unenforceable?), then all bets are off. What MS was doing in this case was IMNSHO deceptive, and was intended to take advantage of people. CA and OR clearly agree with this opinion; I don't know why else they'd outlaw this kind of agreement.
  • "The universe is run by the complex interweaving of three elements: energy, matter, and enlightened self-interest."
    -- G'Kar in TV's Babylon 5

    To me, taking advantage of a $400 screwup in a company worth billions, which has regarlly ignored any and all pretense of the law in squashing competition, and makes my life a living hell from time to time, sounds just fine.

    Morality isn't a science. It doesn't come down to rules like "The end doesn't justify the means" (as a friend of mine once said, very often the end is part of the means) or "Two wrongs don't make a right" (that would invalidate all forms of punishment). I can't give you a logic proof, but I do not see one damn thing wrong with giving Microsoft back a little of what they've happily dished out in the past.

    Consider it payment on a loan.
  • So what you're saying is that people are too stupid to be able to make decisions for themselves. In fact, we're the ones that should be making the decisions for them? Can we say 'Big Brother' here?

    As a matter of fact, consumers *are* often not knowledgable enough to make decisions for themselves. That's why organizations like the FDA and BBB were created. To make sure that the beef you bought wasn't picked up off the floor, and the business you buy from is legitimate.

    Everyone has something they need to depend on others for. When I buy a house, I depend on someone else to tell me whether the house is in good shape. When my car needs work, I depend on someone else to make sure that it is fixed properly. It has nothing to do with being stupid. It has everything to do with "experts". You can't be an expert in everything.

    The core issue as I see it is that consumer protection law was being used to in effect extort money from what was a completely legitimate business offer.

    Microsoft applied the wrong law and got the wrong response. No surprise there. Even when that means that we're abusing a law that was originally put in place for a noble reason? Even though in this case they were offering a completely legitimate deal to the consumer?

    Again, the law didn't apply to Microsoft's case. They made a legitimate mistake and consumers accepted the offer given them. You said yourself that it was "a completely legitimate deal" and Microsoft obviously felt so too. I am offered legitimate deals myself all the time, and I take advantage of them. Why should this be any different then a coupon you clip and take to the supermarket?

    Let's try to win this battle on our own merits, not by beating them at their own game.

    Unfortunately, sometimes merit doesn't win. In a completely perfect world, we wouldn't need to live behind locked doors. However, since there are people who would take advantage of people with unlocked doors, we are forced to play by a different set of rules.

    In Microsoft's case, we know that they'll take advantage of anyone they can. Sure, we might not want to, but unless we are completely foolish we need to play by the same rules they do. If the neighbor locked their doors and ransacked your house, it wouldn't be long till you locked your doors too.

    Microsoft isn't going to give up first and will keep attacking as long as we will let them. Having a good defence is nice, but having an offense is even better.

  • What does legal and illegal have to do with right and wrong? You seem to assume that the two are equivalent, whereas I assume that the two are not.
  • >As much as I dislike Microsoft, is it really right to take their money in this fashion?

    Well, let's look at this from an ethical point of view.

    Corporate ethics -- & this applies to any corporation, not just Microsoft or high-tech ones -- are simple: maximize shareholder value by any arguably legal means possible. And the ``arguably legal" is a point that I may be wrong about: after all, corporations have done cost-benefit studies to see if the cost of a repair or a modification is cheaper than liability lawsuits, then chose the solution based on the bottom line.

    In other words, Microsoft does not care if a product costs the consumer more: it only cares if the product makes Microsoft more money. Customer satisfaction, loyalty or even safety are a distant & subordinate second priority.

    And corporations will carefully read contracts & study agreements with each other in hope of exploiting ambiguities to their advantage.

    And if the corporate officers don't act this way? The price of the corporation's stock goes down, & the officers get to look for ``other opportunities" -- after all, CEOs, COOs, & others of that ilk never seem to get fired.

    Now if you talk about interpersonal ethics, then we worry about doing what is right or fair because this will effect how people treat us in the future. Generosity to others has the possibility of returning to us.

    Generosity to any corporation only adds to its bottom line & stock value -- & probably not to the well-being of even its employees.

    This was not theft: Microsoft did something stupid. And thousands of people took advantage of Microsoft's stupidity. Just as Microsoft would take advantage of another corporation's stupidity.

  • Yeah! That will teach them to bank on the good will, common sense, and moral character of the american people! They took a chance that people would prefer not to take money that they hadn't earned and didn't deserve froma company, however despised, and they lost.

    Human nature and moral are not the same thing.

  • This is the best response to my very philosophical stance I have read. I understand you have not only put thought and work into your response (buying something for less than its value != legalized theft) but you have brought up a much more relavent example than my somewhat outlandish "murder" example.

    For those who responded harshly to this extreme example, let me say for the record that my "murder" example did not involve any self-defense issues; any crime and punishment issues, or whether or how exactly the person was bad. The murderred party could just have been someone you didn't like (hence the "Bill Gates", who is unpopular here, perhaps unfairly so.)

    Obviously, standard business logic dictates then when faced with buying a "diamond in the rough" you do not start by explaining to the merchant what you think it is worth. You could be wrong, after all, and the merchant could fail to inform you so. In a perfect world, this situation could never occur - everyone would clearly know the relative values of everything around them and everything would be commodity priced (perhaps with small fees attached for delivery or the sale itself, since otherwise no seller would have an incentive to sell something in their posession.)

    This is the stuff of Economics 101, and obviously it doesn't work that way in the real or virtual world (especially E-bay). So, then, you may be right, screw 'em cause they didn't check their lawbooks enough may be the order of the day; but remember... this sets a general precedent, not an incident. From now on, every agreement must now be cross-checked across every state, county, township, national, international, provincial law, or else. So those advocating this idiotic notion that it is "fair" WILL be screwed over by a company like Microsoft, and they WILL lose their money in just so fair a way.

  • M$ is famous for their legalistic outlook on everything. I would bet beans to bullets some bright light in Redmond saw an opportunity to get a tax-writeoff if they framed this rebate differently. Their forms show they knew they were at risk in CA and OR. So they knew exactly what could happen; they must have assumed there was some advantage to trying a different kind of rebate from everyone else.

    In other words, they were trying to drive their usual truck thru some legal loophole, and hoping they could get away with it.

    Too bad for them that the net found a bigger truck, in the form of smart consumers out for a bargain.

    I have no sympathy for M$ here. The law has no morals. M$ was out to screw the system thru a loophole and got out-screwed. Too bad, so sad.

  • I said it yesterday and I will say it again today. Ask the windows refund people. They got the run around when it says plain and simple in the EULA to return the software and get a refund. They used the law to swindle out of paying back money when it clearly states you can get a refund. Now people found a way to "legaly" swindle them out of paying back a loan. I say tit for tat.

    This is a completely different situation and you know it - the EULA plainly states that you go back to the OEM for your refund - so what did they do? They went to Microsoft. They didn't buy the machine + software from Microsoft though, did they?

    That's like going to Dodge for a refund when the dealer puts options on your car that you didn't ask for and then tries to charge you for them.

  • Pity you Anonymous Cowards don't have the stones to stand behind your comments.

    Oh yeah - probably because it'd get you in trouble with the police. Deary me.

    People like you should get out of the gene pool before you piss in it and make it stink for the rest of us.

  • I'd want to report it rather than exploit it
    What, you can't do both?

    I've been reading through some of the borderline rants in the top few threads and I have to say that you're all confusing the Law, with Morality, with Justice. A friend of mine and I asked the following question a few months back; Is it morally wrong to deceive the stupid? We (eventually) came up with the answer of "No". Being screwed over is the penalty for being stupid - so long as it's done legally there's nothing morally wrong with it. It might even be justice. Microsoft rolled their dice and came out stupid. The got screwed over. They learnt a little, next time they might not be so stupid. Being taken advantage of not the only way to learn, but it is a way.

  • Their forms show they knew they were at risk in CA and OR.

    REALLY...that's fascinating. Would you mind posting the relevant bits of the form? I've not ever seen their rebate forms. I'd suggest posting it as a reply to the main part of the story. Some (more?) actual evidence of MS's stupidity would be worth showing everyone.
  • Well congratulations folks - you've now managed to get the deal pulled
    Only while it's re-written and then it will go back to the standard I'll give you $X now if you give me $3X over 18 months. Should we argue about how moral those deals are?

    (As a side note, a cow-orker is trapped in a crappy phone deal not because he's signed something that will cost him hundreds of dollars to see out or hundreds of dollars to bail on, but because it will cost him thousands of dollars to re-do all the signs with his mobile number on it, plus his number is on every business card he's handed out. The financial side of the deal is just a misdirection, the contact details and disruption to your life if you change them is the real trap.)

  • Somehow, I don't think God would approve.
    Ronald McDonald also probably wouldn't approve, but I don't care what that fictional character thinks either.
  • ... Microsoft is a publicly held company. ... stole money ... milllions of individuals ...

    Yeah, so what? If MSFT were to become a penny stock tomorrow the world would keep turning. If any Mutual Fund is so heavily invested in MSFT that the fund is dependant on MSFT doing well then the managers of that fund aren't doing their job. If an individual investor is betting everything they have on MSFT, they get what they get. It's been good for a while, but they should know by now that past perforance does not guarantee future success.

    If that's the best arguement you can come up with, don't bother posting.

    The reason MS canceled the offer instead of sueing a bunch of people is that they realized they were offering a deal which was better for the customer than for MS, at least in CA and OR.

  • Your arguement seems to be that accepting a deal which favors you more than the other guy is unethical, or becomes unethical if the deal is sufficently unbalanced.

    People make unbalanced deals all the time. Ideally each party thinks they are getting a slightly better deal than the other guy. Nothing wrong with that, right?

    Other times one party thinks they are getting a really good deal and the other party thinks they are getting a good enough deal to go ahead with the trade. That seems to be what was happening. Then MS realized they were loosing money and stopped offering the deal.

    Sometimes people will point out that a deal is unfair instead of taking advantage of it, but there is no ethical obligation to do so. It's just that sometimes people are nice to one another. This seems to happen more often between strangers or people who have had what they consider to be good trades with the other party. Few people are sympathic to MS. Bummer for MS. Next time they should do more homework.

  • Maybe Microsoft can talk the judge into ordering it this way...

    Gee, you may save MS a million dollars!
  • There's a press release [microsoft.com] on the Microsoft site now. It's also a publicity loss for them -- those who took advantage of the deal mostly loathed Microsoft to begin with, and I'm already seeing the resentment from those who missed out.
  • Bold section is my emphasis --

    You are not obligated to continue as an MSN Internet Access member for any particular length of time; however, if for any reason whatsoever you do not continue for the period of time associated with the rebate that you have elected to receive, you agree that you will repay MSN the amount of the rebate immediately upon termination or cancellation of your MSN Internet Access account; provided that if you are a resident of California or Oregon you will not be required to repay the rebate amount.


"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault