How To Get A Great Discount On A Year Of T-Mobile HotSpot Access

We’ve been covering One Laptop Per Child’s “Buy One Get One” deal because it’s a cheap way to get a very unique, kid-friendly laptop, and because at the end of the year a lot of people are looking for places to burn off some extra tax-deductible donations. But now that OLPC is rolling in one year of free T-Mobile access, the deal just turned into a true bargainif you meet a couple of conditions.

  • 1. You plan on keeping or starting a T-Mobile HotSpot plan for 2008
  • 2. You were going to donate at least $199 to a charity anyway.

That’s really it—if you meet those two conditions, then the laptop is gravy, because the real deal is with T-Mobile. You can give your XO laptop away, gift it to a kid in your family, try to get Doom to play on it, whatever. It doesn’t matter.

Here’s how we figure it: that $400 fee is really a combination of two expenses: a tax-deductible donation of $199 and a purchase price of $201. If you were already planning on donating $199 to a charity before the end of 2007, then by donating it to OLPC, you get to spend that extra $201 for your own XO laptop plus the T-Mobile HotSpot account. On its own, a year of pre-paid T-Mobile HotSpot (the cheapest option) is $359.88. For your additional $201, you’re getting that plus a weird little Kermit-and-marshmallow laptop/tablet!

This is sort of a “splitting hairs” way of looking at it, but it’s applicable to those people who are looking to donate $199 to charity anyway. For the rest of us, this deal effectively costs $400 because the donation is forced, and you wouldn’t have otherwise spent it. It’s still a great deal (like buying a year of T-Mobile and getting an XO laptop for about $60 including shipping), but not as attractive as it is to those who, for whatever reason, were going to be donating the $199 anyway.

“Give One Get One” [One Laptop Per Child]
(Image: OLPC)

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  1. visualbowler says:

    Hey guys, that is kind of correct, however the OLPC organization truly frowns on resale of the laptops. So keep it if you just want the T-mobile, give it to a young relative if you have one, or donate it to a school.

    If you really want to make someone’s day, donate it to a children’s hospital in your area, toys for tots, or some organization which helps children.

    Happy Holidays!

  2. Hmm… I’ll remove the “sell it on eBay!” suggestions, then. Sorry ’bout that, OLPC!

  3. DadCooks says:

    If you read the OLPC terms and conditions it says:

    “3. XO laptops are available only for private home and educational uses. No XO laptops will be supplied for resale.”

    Full text of terms and conditions here: [www.laptopgiving.org]

    IMHO “they” are going to take a very dim view of people putting these on eBay, etc.

    And yes I know I am kind of repeating what VISUALBOWLER said, but for all you doubters I thought you should have a link to the “terms”.

  4. GitEmSteveDave says:

    Except for the fact that I don’t frequent any of the spots that T-Mobile gives access to, it is a great deal. As one of the first people to order one of these (program started at 6am 11/12, I got mine at 5:58), I can’t wait to get it. I only hope they allow us to buy the solar panel or the yo-yo charger.

    As to the selling on Ebay, you buy the laptop, not lease. So what you do with it after you buy it, they really can’t control. I think the wording means that they ship you the laptop, and not in a “sale box”, like when you buy at the store.

    And BTW, the laptop is not just green and white. There are over 400 color combinations(no choice), so that kids can tell their laptop from someone else’s.

  5. @GitEmSteveDave: It’s my understanding that just the “XO” logo comes in the various color combinations, not the case itself.

  6. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @Chris Walters: yeah, it’s the logo that is the different color combinations. So it is not JUST kermit and marshmallow. I like the green myself, and would just as happy w/it just being green. Knowing my luck, mine will be some godawful color combo.

  7. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @Chris Walters: And it’s not just $399. There’s also Shipping and Handling charges. Mine were $24.95. Are those deductible also?

  8. boone says:

    Did anyone get any confirmation from OLPC about their purchase? I bought mine a few minutes after they went on sale the other morning, and, while I got a receipt from PayPal for my payment, I got nothing from the OLPC organization itself. On a related note, does anyone have any idea how and when we’ll receive the T-Mobile subscription? I wonder whether that will come with the laptop, or in a separate package directly from T-Mobile.

  9. SteveBMD says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: Can you get the logo in magenta?

  10. @SteveBMD: Well, since T-mobile is offering the free service, maybe they allowed them to use their proprietary color, unlike what they did to a bunch of roses that defied their court order, and actually usded the color in their blooms. I have also heard that in addition to the color, anyone NAMED Magenta is in trouble. Kind of like when McDonalds went into Scotland and sued everyone.

    @boone: No, no conformation as of yet. But since I don’t remember giving them my email addy when I got mine, they will probably get it when the paypal payment actually “clears”. Either that, or they are going to do it in batches like every Friday or something.

  11. cjc says:

    I already have T-Mobile HotSpot access because of my smartphone data plan (T-Mobile Dash). Anyway this can be transfered? Or are the details for the offer not clear right now?

  12. aka Cat says:

    @boone: I frequently make purchases from small businesses via paypal, and the paypal receipt is the only receipt I get until the product arrives.

  13. pegr says:

    Bullhockey. It’s a sale. They got the kick out of charging for two and sending you one. Now they want to discourage you from doing whatever you want with a product you paid for? Can’t have it both ways!

    Sell it, post it on eBay, take it apart and roll naked in the pieces, whatever. It’s yours.

  14. MeOhMy says:

    @cjc: Since “T-Mobile Total Internet” is basically a single package, you would lose your GPRS/EDGE service. You could potentially try and switch to the Blackberry internet service which does not include the fairly useless Hot Spot add-on, but if it still works at all, it involves some hoop-jumping.

    @pegr:

    Sell it, post it on eBay, take it apart and roll naked in the pieces, whatever. It’s yours.

    Yes, but it goes against the entire spirit of the project. It’s like selling LiveStrong bracelets on Ebay.

  15. pegr says:

    Then the spirit of the project goes against common logic and decency. Any attempt to enforce this would be illegal.

    As for LiveStrong bracelets on eBay, as long as the product was legit, Lance got his, so what’s the problem?

    Besides, dealing in this computer could only raise awareness of the project itself. Sounds like something good to me.

  16. MeOhMy says:

    @pegr:

    Then the spirit of the project goes against common logic and decency.

    The project is an attempt to close the “digital divide” between developed and developing parts of the world. Philanthropy is rarely logical from profitability perspective but it’s certainly decent in theory.

    Any attempt to enforce this would be illegal.

    You agree to the terms as a condition of purchase. While the clause may not be enforceable, it is certainly legal for them to attempt to enforce it. I would not be suprised in the least if Ebay started cancelling auctions for these just as they do with other “Not For Resale” products.

    As for LiveStrong bracelets on eBay, as long as the product was legit, Lance got his, so what’s the problem?

    The problem is that Armstrong’s foundation was trying to raise money for cancer research, NOT just selling a cute fashion trend. “Aftermarket” resale of the bracelets resulted in people paying too much and none of the money going to help the cause.

    Besides, dealing in this computer could only raise awareness of the project itself. Sounds like something good to me.

    Awareness is a good thing, sure. I don’t think buying a $200 machine and attempting to sell it at a profit is a good way to help the cause. Trying to rebadge profiteering as conscience-raising is probably even douchier than just honestly profiteering.

  17. Lavanaut says:

    @Troy F.: Please show me where the OLPC says/dictates/requests that you can’t/aren’t-supposed-to/shouldn’t resell the laptop YOU OWN. It says that they, the OLPC, will not be supplying any laptops for resale. They’re for sale to private parties or for educational purposes only. Anyone reading those terms and conditions to say that you can’t resell your laptop, well, you’re reading into it.

    And as far as “going against the spirit”, you’re paying 200% the cost of the laptop you receive so that another child can get one for free. That’s the spirit! And hey cool, you get one for yourself. Do what you want with it. I can’t believe people are chastising others for considering resale, give me a break.

  18. MeOhMy says:

    @Lavanaut: Spin, spin, spin. The terms are linked and quoted above.
    It says the laptops are not for resale in so many words.

    No one can stop you – do what you think is right.

  19. @Troy F.: So should Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo have made Ebay stop selling Wii’s/Xbox’s/PS3’s at above the price they sold them for? Those companies didn’t sell them to you to resell. And how many of them sold for list price? The companies received their money, and if anyone pays more, than it’s BECAUSE they see it as a status symbol/cute fashion trend. If the market demand is there, then why shouldn’t someone try to fulfill it?

  20. MeOhMy says:

    So should Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo have made Ebay stop selling Wii’s/Xbox’s/PS3’s at above the price they sold them for?

    You agree to no such conditions when buying a game console.

    If the market demand is there, then why shouldn’t someone try to fulfill it?

    Because that’s not what the program is for.

  21. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    Maybe I am just cynical but how long do you think a kid in Africa or Asia will actually have the laptop in thier posession? Seriously if they even get them to kids I will be suprised. A lot of currouption in the parts of the worl that could use these. A lappy like this would probably be a step up for some countries governments on a technological scale.

    I forsee them getting stolen fairly quickly if the kids actually get them.

  22. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer: Sorry I know there is corruption everywhere but the places they are really needed have the gun in face kind of curruption, where modern companies have the hand in back pocket kind..

  23. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer: d’oh I meant countries not companies, but then again America is turning into more of a conglomeration of companies than a country.

  24. FLConsumer says:

    With mobile data plans as cheap as they are now, why would anyone want to use T-Mobile’s hot spot service? Mobile broadband (3.5Mbps down / 1.5Mbps up) on my cell costs me an extra $5/mo. A nice Bluetooth connection between my phone & laptop and it’s like I never left home.

  25. LeopardSeal says:

    @Troy F.:

    “Trying to rebadge profiteering as conscience-raising is probably even douchier than just honestly profiteering.”

    Brilliant. That’s definitely a quoteable.

  26. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer: There is a built in process by which a laptop must be unlocked with a separate key/flash drive. Once activated, if it is out of communication with a base station/network/neighborhood, it bricks. This is not true, however, for the laptop(s) us fortunate folks will receive.

  27. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @Troy F.: And you agree to no such condition when getting this laptop. They say they will not SUPPLY laptops for resale. Not “you can not resell the laptop you purchase”. If they had wanted to say that, well, they would have SAID it. But they didn’t. Apple made a laptop/pda like device before called the emate. It was available to only schools and educators. Guess what, they sell them on eBay.

    And you’re right, that’s not what the program is for. It’s for supplying education tools to people who don’t normally have access to them. According to your logic, if I buy something in a charity auction, I can never sell it. But I BOUGHT it. I’m within my right to do what I want with it afterward. Just like people who bought a iPhone, and hacked it to use with another service. I’m sure that goes against the spirit of the iPhone/ATT collaboration, but it’s been allowed because it’s YOUR property.

  28. jat357 says:

    Actually, the deal isn’t as good as it seems. From the perspective of federal tax law, you can only deduct as a contribution the amount in excess of the total fair market value of what you receive in return.

    Assuming you keep one machine, FMV(WiFi + Laptop) > $200, which means you can’t deduct anything. If you donate both machines, Deductible Amount = ($399 – 359.88).

    The online OLPC terms and conditions state that the laptop is the only item the donor receives in exchange, but as your post indicates that is not accurate. Perhaps those terms were drawn up before the wi-fi became part of the deal.

  29. @jat357: Since the T-mobile wifi is not JUST for the laptop, and in some cases, not at all for the laptop, it wouldn’t/shouldn’t be considered. Also, in the terms of online access, what is “fair market” value? Certainly not what T-mobile charges.

    Also, the fair market value of the laptop is considerably less than the $188 priced now. That figure is based on the US dollar. The actual price minus currency exchange, and also what the manufacturer ACTUALLY makes it for, is probably close to the actual $100 mark.

  30. MeOhMy says:

    @GitEmSteveDave:
    I hope you’re not naturally this obtuse and are just playing devil’s advocate.

    The terms and conditions are right there on the “Give One Get One” homepage, linked in this thread, quoted in this thread. Participation in the program is subject to those terms and conditions.

    Is there some bizarre legal technicality that says “Supplying” is not “Supplying” if money changes hands? I suspect they are trying to simply cover all the bases since not everyone who gets one of these machines is actually paying for one.

    Yes, you agreed not to modify/unlock your iPhone which is exactly why Apple and ATT feel they can go around releasing updates that brick or otherwise screw up the handsets – you signed the contract. In the end they can’t stop you, but they can certainly try.

    You keep trying to apply my “logic” to all sorts of normal purchase situations. This is NOT a normal purchase situation. My logic is only this:

    If you agree to various terms as a condition of sale, the seller can try to hold you to those terms even if they have little power to actually do so.

    You make no such agreement when you buy a game console. Few charity auctions carry such terms.

    The difference between Apple and OLPC is that one is ostensibly trying to do something good in the world, so it would be nice if people respect their wishes.

    This is how it works. This is why it’s different than just buying toilet paper at Wal Mart.

    Like I said before, no one can stop you – do what you think is right.

  31. phearlez says:

    It’s really unfortunate you don’t know what you’re talking about, Troy. Unenforceable contracts/agreements are not illegal and, unfortunately, not uncommon. OLPC can feel free to put things in their agreements asking you to sign away your resale rights but their ability to enforce them is another thing entirely.

    If you’ve ever gone to do any remotely physical activity in the US that was run by an organization then you probably had a form put in front of you to sign asking you to waive your right to sue, regardless of how completely incompetently and ineptly the organization behaves.

    In reality, however, there are many rights you have that cannot be signed away. To use an extreme example, you cannot in most locations sign something giving another individual the right to take your life. Signing those waivers doesn’t perfectly insulate organizations from due diligence and negligence torts. Similarly, OLPC putting something in their sale contract claiming you don’t get to resell the item doesn’t necessarily make it legally binding.

  32. MeOhMy says:

    @phearlez:
    It’s really unfortunate you don’t know how to read, Phearlez.

    Like I said before (twice now),

    No one can stop you – do what you think is right.

  33. hapless says:

    @visualbowler:

    …and that’s the kind of idiocy that dooms them to failure.

  34. @Troy F.:

    3. XO laptops are available only for private home and educational uses. No XO laptops will be supplied for resale.

    Well, that same rule also says for private home and educational uses. I guess that means I can never/should never use it for anything business related. I can also not use it OUT of the home. Which is funny, because of the T-mobile offer. Unless you have a t-mobile hotspot in your home or school, you can’t use the offer. I’m not playing Devil’s Advocate. Term 3 simply states that the OLPC Foundation will not supply laptops for resale to a company like BB or CC. Not that the user/buyer agrees to not resell. If that was the intent of the term, it would have read “Laptop can not be sold after purchase”. This is purely and simply a step to make the laptop available to the target audience, and not to a company that only want to buy 1000 to sell. Also, if someone puts it up on Ebay, you can gaurentee that they will want that more than if it sits on a BB shelf in the back room. Since there is no technical support available, if you do need help, they tell you to contact the users who are out there in the world using it. And yes, except for the one sent to Africa, etc, everyone who gets one WILL have paid for it.

    As to your iPhone statement, there are at least two class action suits being brought against apple/at&t for their actions towards unlocked phones. Just because they, and to quote you, “feel” like they can do it, doesn’t mean it’s right.