Not A Paid Advertisement for Staples

I went to Staples today, looking for CD cases, and I wandered by the USB flash drive section. My current drive (128 MB Kangaru) has been pissing me off lately--it has a large, klunky form factor, so I HAVE TO UNPLUG MY POWER CABLE BEFORE PLUGGING IT INTO MY LAPTOP. Ugh. Bad design. It also screwed me when I was trying to plug it into the front USB port of a desktop machine--didn't fit. That, and the lack of capacity was starting to get annoying (e.g., wipe out and load several times to transfer photographs).

Evidently I was high in serendipitons today. Staples has the SanDisk 1GB Cruzer® M2 USB Flash Drive on sale ("instant savings") for $50, and with a rebate of $20, a net price of $30. 1 GB for $30--not bad at all.

What completely shocked me when I got home is that Staples has instituted an online rebate system that is relatively seamless and quick. I thought the point of rebates for large companies was to make them hard, so that a large fraction of the customers forget or don't bother to send in rebate forms. It seems like self-defeating behavior for them, but hey--life is better for us. Seems quite disturbing to the expected order of the universe.

Incidentally, it's a pretty good design--the USB end clicks in and out like a retractable ballpoint pen, so there's no cap to lose.

So if you're thinking of replacing your USB drive, the purchase has to be made 06/11/06 through 06/24/06. I am not sure where this offer is valid--I bought mine in MA.

Our of curiosity, does anyone know if there's a sudden surge in flash memory availability? I took advantage of a similar rebate for an SD card. I thought I remembered hearing news stories a while ago that there was a shortage of flash memory, due to Apple (or other MP3 player manufacturers) snapping it up. Or is there something new on the horizon that makes retailers want to dump their inventory ASAP?


At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On online rebates, here's my theory, completely unsupported by anything other than my ass. I figure the online rebate stuff is a psychological ploy-- they figured out that most of the paper rebates were being sent in by retired folks that have lots of free time to deal with nitpicky rebate rules, and that those folks are unlikely to go online to fill out a rebate. Further, they are assuming that there's some sort of correlation between online familiarity and laziness, which seems at least plausible. So, it's not a huge risk to their existing rebate system, and it might save them some salaries of the Young America, MN people that open those rebates.

And those people who are both organized and comfortable with online stuff are going to send in the rebate anyway, so why not save some money on their side.

Or I might just be talking out of my ass. Woo.


At 12:43 PM, Blogger j.ho said...

I think the easy online rebates are a marketing ploy to give them an edge in the market place. By letting all those consumers know how e-a-s-y it is to file a rebate, hopefully those consumers will buy the USB flash drive there and not Circuit City - and purchase some extra things while they are there. Sure, Staples has to pay out more $$ from the claimed rebates, but hopefully the consumer is so happy with the experience they will become more loyal to the brand.

I think it's a very smart move on Staples' part... Best Buy, Circuit City, CrapUSA all SUCK. Everytime I go to one of those stores is a painful experience. I think Staples is capitalizing on that and using rebates as a way to form relationships with long-term customers. By blogging about your positive experience you just helped Staples. That $20 rebate paid out to you may have just gained them 10 new customers.

At 1:13 PM, Blogger Bats said...

As an update--I found one very annoying thing about this USB key--it has this "U3 Software" installed on it that is set to autorun; even worse, when it autoruns, it installs their crap software on your machine. Fortunately, I have autorun disabled on my computer (download a copy of the Tweak UI Control Panel, and go to the Paranoia tab). However, it did start installing crap on other machines. I tried deleting and repartitioning, and none of it worked.

It turns out that this is something that has been annoying a lot of geeks--see this Ars Technica discussion. I managed to find a copy of the uninstaller after hunting around on the net, and it worked fine.

But if you get one of these USB Cruzers, I strongly recommend killing the U3 program.


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