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  1. #1
    Senior Member Dogberry2's Avatar
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    Hardware Beta Testers Take Note

    The FTC (the U.S. Federal Trade Commission) has issued a set of "guidelines" under which they can levy fines upon anyone who receives free merchandise or other compensation from a company and then comments on it on the Internet, whether in a blog, a consumer review site like Amazon, or in a public forum such as this one, unless they make full and adequate disclosure of exactly what they received from the company. The "guidelines" are very vague, and very broad, and only the FTC gets to decide what constitutes an acceptable disclosure statement, but as I read it, this will certainly apply to all beta testers who receive hardware from Logitech and subsequently make any public posts commenting on the product. So if you're a beta tester, you might want to be very careful, and perhaps change your forum sig to state in plain, clear terms exactly what Logitech gave you. I'm not saying they're necessarily going to come after you if you don't; I'm just saying it might be a good idea to be careful about it.

    Here is one article about it, which includes a link to the FTC document. It's an interesting read, if you're into bizarre bureaucratic bilgewater.

  2. #2
    Senior Member pfarrell's Avatar
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    Hardware Beta Testers Take Note

    Dogberry2 wrote:
    > The FTC (the U.S. Federal Trade Commission) has issued a set of
    > "guidelines" under which they can levy fines upon anyone who receives
    > free merchandise or other compensation from a company and then comments
    > on it on the Internet, whether in a blog, a consumer review site like
    > Amazon, or in a public forum such as this one, unless they make full and
    > adequate disclosure of exactly what they received from the company.


    IANAL, but this will be overthrown in court.

    They are doing a good thing in spirit but using a shotgun when a
    precision weapon is needed.

    I am a beta tester. I do not get hardware for "free", I get it as
    compensation to hours of testing, reporting, and posting on the closed
    beta forums.

    Getting a "free" piece of gear in exchange for tens and in the case of
    the Touch, more like 100 hours of effort is not free. In the case of the
    Touch, the hourly rate is below minimum wage. For the Radio, the rate
    was better, it was closer to release shape when I got mine, but it sure
    didn't work perfectly the first weeks.

    And by the way, the developers who contribute code, at least the
    non-Logitech employees who are committers, are not 'given" the hardware,
    they earn it. A professional software engineer typically has a salary
    well over $50,000 a year, and in most parts of the country, its more
    like $100k. This means between $25 and $50 per hour of work.

    How much work needed to make a $200 consumer product stop being excessive?

    Pat

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    Pat Farrell
    http://www.pfarrell.com/


  3. #3
    I'm pretty sure you're still getting it for free in the eyes of the law. If it's compensation for services rendered then I guess a whole different category of law (taxes, etc) comes into the picture.

    I understand your point on the personal effort involved; but I don't think that has anything to do with the legal issue here.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Phil Leigh's Avatar
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    What a ridiculous piece of "legislation"... to which I am fortunately immune ... :-)
    You want to see the signal path BEFORE it gets onto a CD/vinyl...it ain't what you'd call minimal...
    Touch(wired/W7)+Teddy Pardo PSU - Audiolense 3.3/2.0+INGUZ DRC - MF M1 DAC - Linn 5103 - full Aktiv 5.1 system (6x LK140's, ESPEK/TRIKAN/KATAN/SEIZMIK 10.5), Pekin Tuner, Townsend Supertweeters,VdH Toslink,Kimber 8TC Speaker & Chord Signature Plus Interconnect cables
    Stax4070+SRM7/II phones
    Kitchen Boom, Outdoors: SB Radio, Harmony One remote for everything.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Leigh View Post
    What a ridiculous piece of "legislation"... to which I am fortunately immune ... :-)
    Be careful... we have ridiculous legislation here in the UK, too.

    It wouldn't surprise me if HMRC (for our non-UK friends, that stands for "Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs" - our equivalent of the Internal Revenue) defined something like a beta test SB Touch provided in exchange for your testing efforts as a "benefit in kind", and decided to charge tax on its value!
    Transporter -> ATC SCM100A

  6. #6
    Interesting.
    So what value do you put on a beta SB Touch or radio? Certinaly not the MSRP, else Logitech would have just put them out to market without beta testing.

    If HMRC or the IRS really want to spend their time trying to chase people for a benefit in kind tax charge on a barely working product, that - when it does work - is about £150 (SBR) then they really do have far too much time on their hands.

    SBR: £150
    BIK tax would be based on the cost for Logitech to provide it? £50
    taxed @ 20% = £10
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    SBS 7.7 WHS, 1 SliMP3, 1 SB2, 1 SBC, 1 DUET, 1 BOOM, 1 RADIO, 1 TOUCH
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

  7. #7
    Senior Member pfarrell's Avatar
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    Hardware Beta Testers Take Note

    mmca22gr wrote:
    > SBR: £150
    > BIK tax would be based on the cost for Logitech to provide it? £50
    > taxed @ 20% = £10


    Which is a couple of pints at your local?


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    Pat Farrell
    http://www.pfarrell.com/


  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmca22gr View Post
    If HMRC or the IRS really want to spend their time trying to chase people for a benefit in kind tax charge on a barely working product, that - when it does work - is about £150 (SBR) then they really do have far too much time on their hands.
    Never underestimate the lengths bean counters are prepared to go in order to balance the books. The world is full of credit control departments happy to use $100 worth of their time in order to recover a $5 debt. HMRC & IRS are just bigger versions of the same thing.
    Transporter -> ATC SCM100A

  9. #9
    Senior Member Siduhe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Leigh View Post
    What a ridiculous piece of "legislation"... to which I am fortunately immune ... :-)
    We've had something similar in the EU (not quite so explicit but the intended effect is the same) for some time, care of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. It contains a general ban on unfair or misleading advertising practices including falsely or misleading representing that your only connection to a company is as a consumer.

    In the UK the Directive is enacted by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and includes a specific prohibition on "misleading conduct" which is theoretically wide enough to include failing to mention that you have received a free piece of hardware from a company.

    However, there is also de minimis requirement i.e. the behaviour must be likely materially to distort or be likely to materially distort the average consumer's economic behaviour.

    A more sensible way to approach things IMHO.
    Who am I on LAST.FM?
    "Siduhe Loved Tracks radio got the thumbs up. Feedback included: yeah, it's good... got the odd dodgy track tho..." (c) ModelCitizen

  10. #10
    Senior Member toby10's Avatar
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    I'd guess the IRS $600 rule would apply, no?
    Gifts, monies, etc... valued under $600 need not be declared by the recipient nor does the giver need to notify the IRS via 1099.
    Unless they changed that or I don't understand it (which is quite possible).

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