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HP sends you back to school in style

HP Academy logoHP has launched their back to school campaign. I know because I received a couple of emails from Student Rate talking about the HP “Free Xbox” offer. HP also has aggressive pay-per-click ads running. I typed in “Radio Shack Back to School” and got an “HP Back to School” ad on Google, which of course I had to click on, and now I’m writing this blog post.
When I clicked on the PPC ad, I got a gorgeous page that announced I was at “HP Academy”—let’s go shopping!HP Ad: Make It Matter. Ready. Set. School.
Let’s get right to the offer that we’re all excited about—the free Xbox. This offer is clean, easy, and really seems to be a great deal.
I’m a teacher, and I have a .edu email address, so first I tried to be honest, I clicked on the button that indicated that I’m a teacher to see if I could get the free Xbox. No-go. When I put the laptop and the Xbox in my shopping cart and applied the coupon code, nothing happened.
Not to be deterred, I decided to lie and cheat. I closed Firefox and opened IE and signed in with my Mom’s .edu email address (she is a teacher too). This time, I said I was a student, and presto, free Xbox. They didn’t check to see if I was actually a student, they didn’t even send an email to my .edu to make sure it was actually mine.
Wow. In a world of really terrible customer experiences in order to verify the identity of a student, this is a breath of fresh air. From a customer’s point of view, a customer who knows how to get their hands on a .edu (a google-able feat) and wants a free Xbox with their laptop, this is awesome.

There really isn’t a “gotcha” with this deal. There are dozens of qualifying laptops and desktops, for student shoppers, they also offer free shipping and additional “instant savings” of anywhere between $100 – 200 that appear in your shopping cart. No complaints, HP’s free Xbox offer rocks.
If you don’t actually want an Xbox, or if you want to spend under $700 on a computer and just want a great student deal, the HP Academic Purchase Program seems like a solid place to start. Don’t expect a blanket student discount though, and I would still comparison shop since the discounts seem a little hit-and-miss.
Can HP improve on their back-to-school offer? Well of course they can. There’s a reason that most companies have complex verification processes around a student discount. If companies can verify, they can:

  • Offer better, more clear-cut discounts
  • Market their offers far and wide

SheerID would give HP the ability to have their cake and eat it too. They could keep their slick and friendly customer service experience AND not have to worry about non-students redeeming the offers. In the immortal words of Carly Rae Jepsen “Call Me Maybe.”

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