Beware of pre-configured systems

(Updated again!)

Ok, I won’t give out the store name of the company for at least one reason, but let’s just say that the chain [which has stores across Canada and the US and sells office products in addition to “technology” products] are really taking advantage of some people.

Back around Christmas last year a friend’s computer died. She caved in a bought herself a new system at the near by chain store. She was buying a desktop system with screen for something like close to $1000 before taxes. She is not a technical expert in computers.

But they told her they had to pre-configure the system for her for $99 claiming it has to be done. Partially it is valid for her because she doesn’t have high speed at home and it would take forever to update the computer. But even then some things were not updated.

We had to go back because she required a fax/modem. They sold her one [at a ridiculously high price for those things] and said it would fit fine in the system [after we verified with one of their store people]. Brought it back. Guess what? Didn’t fit. She returned it for an even more pricier USB version.

Fast forward in the summer of 2011. My cousin’s desktop is on the verge of permanent retirement. Went with her to the same chain [different store]. The laptop she wanted was only available pre-configured for English and “updated”. I told them that I would be doing the updating. They said it’s all they had. They get a certain amount in and pre-configure about half of them immediately. They wanted $99. Asked them did it include Windows 7 service pack 1 and they said yes. After a bit of going back and forward the store manager offered $60 off any accessories. After adding a warranty and other stuff, it came to over $1100 before taxes the manager took off 10% for everything. So the deal was a bit better.

Here’s the kicker. They claimed it had service pack 1 and was up to date. When I got to the laptop, 47 security and non-security updates plus a half dozen hardware updates were needed. No Windows 7 service pack 1. By my guess, it hasn’t been updated in at least 4 months.

Unsure what they do for 3 hours [as the manager claims that’s the amount of time it takes] but it ain’t hard to do the initial configuration and then run Windows Update. The manager claims that most of their customers want to go home with everything set up. They use the generic account name “HP” and a generic computer name.

So, if you buy a system from them, ask for a non-pre-configured system. Save yourself the $99 plus taxes.

In another case, someone I know brought her desktop computer into another well-known electronics store. [This one has stores on both sides of the border and also own another well-known electronics store in Canada.] She brought it in to complain that there was noise coming from the computer. As she had an extended warranty, there were required to look and correct the problem without charge.

The technician came back to her and said if she knew that she had [something like] 55 computer infections. Now remember that she is not a computer expert. She said to hold onto the computer and will get back to them.

She called me and asked if it was possible. Initially I thought she had one of those fake anti-virus software on her system. I asked if she noticed anything odd with her system. Running slow or pop-ups? She said no. I know she’s using Kaspersky’s Internet Security as it was installed a few months back. She told me the could remove the crap and install Norton 360. Price tag would be close to $200. Uh huh. For her system, Norton 360 would slow down the system to a crawl but of course they’d recommend the top of the line edition.

I suspect they never even bothered doing any scan for anything. It wouldn’t be worth their time to scan a system and not get paid for it as she didn’t authorize it. They produced no proof that the system was infected.

Finally, I’ve seen on more than one occasion where the “recovery disk” don’t work. In one case, the destination hard disk was harder than the disk where they created the image from. On top of that, they aren’t even using recovery disks from the manufacturer.

Have any stories like these?

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About ebraiter
computer guy

2 Responses to Beware of pre-configured systems

  1. techplusinc says:

    It’s amazes me what these chain stores will do to turn a dollar. Even we they notice that someone sees through them they still try to change their story and try to adapt to the situation. I’ve had friends fall for the same thing. It’s not that people are stupid its because chain stores thrive on ignorance. Like the old expression “ignorance is bliss”. It really shouldn’t amaze me that these people take advantage of people that are not technological savvy.

  2. ebraiter says:

    The store that was related to the first 2 stories have a promo that you get $350 off services and training for free. They’ll get your system ready (wonder what they’ll do with no non-pre-configured systems), free data transfer from the old system to the new (and if you have nothing to transfer or buying for the first time?) and 4+ hours of online training of Windows 7 and Office 2010 (a reminder that the Office 2010 you get is a trial version – if it’s included).

    Worth the money? Probably not – unless you have 15GB of data to move off the old system – and they’d probably have a surcharge for that without warning you.

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