[ale] How NOT to buy/sell a computer.

Bob Toxen bob at verysecurelinux.com
Sun Feb 1 18:59:23 EST 2004

That's very disappointing.  I've had a buncha transactions with MicroCenter
(Gwinnett & Cobb) without the slightest problem.

Certainly, paying by credit card (not debit card) allows one to get one's
money back from reluctant merchants.

Bob Toxen
bob at verysecurelinux.com               [Please use for email to me]
http://www.verysecurelinux.com        [Network&Linux/Unix security consulting]
http://www.realworldlinuxsecurity.com [My book:"Real World Linux Security 2/e"]
Quality Linux & UNIX security and SysAdmin & software consulting since 1990.

"Microsoft: Unsafe at any clock speed!"
   -- Bob Toxen 10/03/2002

On Sun, Feb 01, 2004 at 04:43:35PM -0500, Benjamin Scherrey wrote:
> 	Just had an interesting experience with the MicroCenter in Gwinnett county. Yesterday I 
> picked up one of these cool litle Shuttle X boxes that runs an Athlon64. Tony, the sales guy there 
> was helpful and knowledgeable so I was satisfied I had a good system with the right components. 
> Spent just under $1000 for the components and brought them home to assemble. It cost me nearly 
> $200 more to buy it locally than mail order (even after shipping expenses) but I always prefer to 
> support my local stores with the expectation that they'll stand behind their product and the added 
> advantage of immediate gratification. It was a nice idea anyway...
> 	Unfortunately, the machine didn't get much past POST. Recognized the CD media but 
> locked up during the boot. Also immediately locks when trying to get in the BIOS. Checked out the 
> online support forums and saw several reports of power supply problems which seemed to fit the 
> behaviour I was seeing. So today I take the machine back and explain what's happening. Initially 
> MicroCenter wanted $85 to look at it - but I could exchange it for free. This made no sense to me 
> but I explained I just wanted to get a working computer and would do whatever was easiest for 
> them. There were only four possible components to change out to see what the real problem was 
> so I suggested a 20 minute effort was cheaper for them and myself than exchanging out everything 
> at once.
> 	So they let me back in the tech room with the tech (Walt is his name I believe) and 
> explain to him the symptoms and what I had found on the support forums. He plugged the power 
> supply into a little 3" long device with a power switch and a green LED which lit up. With that he 
> declared the power supply fine! I suggested that it might be better to test it with a load on it but he 
> insisted that the device did this. I figured it wouldn't do to ask him what remarkable technology was 
> able to dissapate 200+ watts of power without performing any work or heating up enough to burn 
> his hand... ;-) He then attempted to boot the machine, got the exact results I had described and 
> said there was no telling what the problem was and a tech would be available on Tuesday for the 
> afore-mentioned $85.00 - reinforcing my long-held belief that ego/attitude and talent are inversely 
> proportional amongst tech types and photographers.
> 	Not quite understanding what the point of that excersize was, I decided to just take the 
> initial offer of exchanging everything - even though it didn't sound like such a great deal for 
> MicroCenter. So now I needed to extract my DVD-ROM out of the box as it was the only 
> component of my own in the box. Unfortunately the tech said I couldn't borrow a screw driver or 
> work on the box in any way inside the tech area for fear I'd electrocute myself and sue them. 
> (Seriously - this is what he said) I guess he'd be glad to do it for $85.00. So I take all my stuff out to 
> customer service and start disassembling the box there with my pocket knife. Can't get two of the 
> screws out (that's what I get for screwing things in right) so, when the manager (Bill) asks me what's 
> going on I explain to him what's happened and that I need to borrow a screw-driver to get my DVD-
> ROM out. He disappears back in the tech room and finally comes out asking me to follow him back 
> to the tech room (again) where he will let me borrow their screw-driver - but only after enduring his 
> anecdote that had I bought tires at an auto store they wouldn't let me borrow their tools to install 
> them. He literally held the screw driver away from me until he finished his story - which took an order 
> of magnitude longer than the time required for me to remove my drive. Once removed, he also 
> noted that if I exchanged the computer and had similar problems that there would be a 15% 
> restocking fee! 
> 	Finally insulted and harrangued enough for making the effort to do business with 
> MicroCenter and attempting to solve the problem with as little cost or trouble to them and myself as 
> possible, it was clearly time to cut my losses. I told him that I'll just return everything and take the 
> added savings of mail order rather than do business with them again. So, Bill & Walt of MicroCenter 
> managed to spend nearly an hour in an effort to lose a $1000.00 sale plus the loss of taking the 
> returned items and all future business from me rather than the 20 minutes necessary to keep the 
> money, stand behind their product, and retain a customer.
> 	lesson learned,
> 		Ben Scherrey
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