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HP Access Discovers The Virtues of "Free"

HP Access, the company's assistance program for small and midsize business, has dropped its $49 price tag and is now free to buyers of qualifying HP products. Ironically enough, at that price the program actually has some value.
HP Access, the company's assistance program for small and midsize business, has dropped its $49 price tag and is now free to buyers of qualifying HP products. Ironically enough, at that price the program actually has some value.HP Access is part of the company's Total Care support program, and basically consists of discounts and training intended for SMBs -- many from HP operations. Some of the discounts are substantial, like $110 off at Stamps.com, or $80 off at Yahoo! Small Business Web site and domain hosting. But very little -- aside from a free Symantec SVS license valued at $30, is totally free.

That's why I was never that impressed with the program when it cost $49 to join. It always sort of struck me as one of those discount dining coupon books full of savings at restaurants you probably wouldn't go to. You pay for the discounts, and then you pay more to take advantage of them by buying things you probably wouldn't otherwise buy.

But the whole value proposition changes when the program becomes free. Suddenly, it's worth checking out, and if there's a discount on something you really need, then you're in luck. And if not, well, you're no worse off than you were before you started.

Vendors offering HP Access discounts -- at varying levels of attractiveness -- include

Stamps.com - postage. Logoworks - logos, business cards Web site design. Yahoo! - Web page/domain hosting. iContact - e-mail newsletters. PRWeb - press releases. Symantec (Altris) - virtualization. StorageWorks - removable disk backup. Intuit - Quickbooks, credit-card-processing software. Citrix - remote access trial. HP - server infrastructure, power manager software, and more.

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