Friday, January 06, 2006

Student Discounted Merchandise Anxiety

I advocate the use of open source software whenever possible because it levels the playing field for all American children and their families. Anyone owning a fairly new model of a computer can participate in using word processors, spreadsheets, programming tools and so forth. I include alink on my left menu bar for all the programs that I think have a responsible critical mass - Open Office, SchoolTools, and so on. Just search on 'free' and you'll find whatever I stumble across.

To be fair though, today I want to address the issue of Student Discounted products. I want to encourage students and parents to take advantage of these discounts whenever possible. But a few months ago, my wife and I were considering such a purchase. My wife's a teacher and in looking at the box, we were both intimidated by the legalese and weren't sure of what we 'needed'. Rather than be embarassed at the register by a clerk who might suddenly turn into a CSI investigator we didn't purchase the product.

I think this happens too often so Lynda Breault and I chased the issue around for a few days. Here's what we found.

At the Apple site, it is clear who can buy discounted technology;

Who is Eligible To Purchase
The following education individuals are eligible to purchase through the Apple Store for Education individuals:

* Employee of public or private K-12 institutions in the United States
* School Board members who are currently serving as elected or appointed members
* PTA or PTO executives currently serving as elected or appointed officers
* Qualified homeschools
* Employee of a public or private, profit or non-profit preschool

Although this is Apple's qualifying list, my guess is that all corporations offering such discounts are fairly identical.

The message I'm conveying here is this. If a store is selling Student Discount versions of a product then, assuming you're qualified as the above list says, you can buy it without having to offer any 'proof'. This does not operate like the old Soviet Union where you had to be a card-carrying-member of an organization.

The registration process of the company selling the product will make you sign a contract that confirms that you are who you say you are usually with no litmus tests.

Any store clerk demanding an ID has no right to demand one. There is no ID for BOE members, or home schoolers, or whoever. None.

Ask for a manger or buy it elsewhere. It is your privilege and right to purchase whatever you qualify for - there is no burden of proof at the checkout line, nor should there be.

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