Beware Rogue Traders - Be Vigilant In The Online Software Licence Marketplace – Buying & Selling Disused Microsoft Software Licences Since 2004

Beware Rogue Traders – Be Vigilant In The Online Software Licence Marketplace



Since the UK – and much of Europe – went into lockdown, many businesses have been temporarily closing or seen their revenues impacted. As a result, businesses are being forced to cut costs and to look for new ways to save money.

As software is often business critical, buyers are searching the internet for the best deals but it is important to know what to look for first. There are times when the cheapest option isn’t the best!

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This is certainly true in the technology sector when it is far too easy to be lulled into thinking you’ve found a ‘sweet deal’, only to discover you have actually been ripped off. Software offers that seem ‘too good to be true’ should particularly raise an alarm, as there is a good chance they are a ploy by a rogue trader.

Buying The Rights To Use Software

The internet is awash with cheap software offers, whether it’s directly from a seller’s website or platforms like eBay and other online marketplaces, where vendors can make unverified claims about the legitimacy of the software they’re selling. They’re advertised as genuine software and installation keys, which often they are, but are you receiving a genuine licence to legitimately use the software purchased? Probably not.

This is one way unscrupulous software vendors operate – they offer genuine installation keys for software at a great discount, failing to mention that this isn’t exactly a complete package. Many unsuspecting individuals and even companies are unaware this is not the same as having a licence to use that software.

Best Way To Source Pre-Owned And New Software

To avoid the dodgy software deals from rogue traders, it is important to deal with reputable sellers such as Discount-Licensing, who are transparent and will help you to understand what you are buying. Are you buying new software so you are the first user, or pre-owned – and what type of user licence is it?

Checking The Credentials Of New Software

Rogue vendors will promote offers on software implying or even stating that the item is new but at heavily discounted prices. You need to ask the question “Why would a software manufacturer sell off their software cheaply to these guys who will undercut their mainstream vendors?” Because of digital delivery, software manufacturers or authorised resellers are not sitting on mountains of stock that they need to sell off cheaply to make space. Nor have they much interest in selling older product versions.

Take Microsoft’s Office 2016, for example. If a business needs an older version, Microsoft’s mechanism for this is for the customer to purchase the current version via Volume Licensing, then use downgrade rights to install the previous release. Software manufacturers have far greater control over their product distribution than most businesses, so why devalue their products and undermine their key partners?

Certainly, products like Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) licences do make their way onto the grey market, but new software licences offered at very low prices are far more likely to be pirated copies rather than something a manufacturer would accept as legitimate if audited.

Remember, just because you have a working installation key, this does not mean you have a legal right to use the product.

Pre-Owned Software

In the pre-owned software market, there are good deals to be found. At Discount-Licensing we sell the right to use our software, not just the ability to install it! The law lays down criteria for pre-owned software transfers and trustworthy vendors will themselves offer up this information. Providing this criteria is meet, the software manufacturer must accept the pre-owned software is being used legitimately.

So how can you be sure that the pre-owned software you are looking to purchase is legal and fit for purpose?

Checking The Validity Of Pre-Owned Software

If we look at a manufacturer like Microsoft in whom we specialise at Discount-Licensing, Volume licensing is the safest for the customer to purchase. The reason is that Microsoft keeps records of who purchases these licences so their legitimacy can be confirmed.

This is not to say that pre-owned Retail or OEM software can’t be legally purchased and used; but with those types of licences, it is a lot harder to prove their legitimacy and to be able to meet the manufacturer’s audit requirements. The software you have purchased could be perfectly legal but if you cannot prove that in an audit, there is every chance you will have to repurchase it.

A good pre-owned software supplier should be able to meet the following checklist for every transaction so that they meet the legal requirements:

    • The software was first put into use within the UK or EEA (‘original country of use’, not the ‘current country of use’);
    • You should be supplied the name of the original Microsoft Customer along with the unique licence agreement numbers that were issued to them. These numbers constitute the right to install and use the software;
    • Written confirmation from the original user or their legal representative that the licences have been divested and the software uninstalled from their equipment.

At Discount-Licensing we do high levels of due diligence, tracing the origins of every item we sell, right back to its starting point with Microsoft! That means that we can also show you the same information. If a company refuses to divulge a licence’s owner history, proceed with caution.

GDPR, for instance, is not applicable, as a clear audit trail needs to be established from the original user to the current one to be legally compliant. Without it, a software manufacturer may reject your right to be using the software.

Finding A Trusted Supplier Of Discounted Software

There are a few more clues you can use to find genuine deals on software licences.

Does the seller provide authentic contact details, including a postal address and telephone number? Many rogue traders keep such information under wraps, selling unusable software online with no way for dissatisfied customers to approach them if an issue occurs.

In fact, check the whole website or listing carefully for inflated claims, ambiguous terms and other red flags.

Buying low priced software from ‘fly by night’pop up traders is always a huge risk. Buying from a reputable dealer with a strong track record makes those few extra savings!

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Trading for over 15 years, Discount-Licensing ensures all our licences comply with legislation and we can back that up with full transparency to our customers.

Never worry about purchasing illegal software or failing a Microsoft audit again – if you are looking to save money on software licences for your business please get in touch and we will provide you with a quote.

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Image source: Pixabay