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WARNING: Do not
buy a computer until you read this – or you might get ripped off
a perfect summer day in 1997, life as I knew it was changed forever. I lost all
trust in the human race, and felt my life was over -- but I vowed to seek vendetta
in the most violent way. Yes, the taste of blood was in my mouth…
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite as melodramatic as all that – but I sure was seething
I had been ripped off to the tune of $2800 by a scam artist who
"sold" me a Gateway laptop over the Internet.
I’d tell you the details, but they’re just too painful to relive. And
frankly, I feel more than a little embarrassed for being conned.
After that distasteful experience, I embarked on a personal crusade not only to
expose the deceptive sales practices in the computer industry, but also to scour
the globe for the best computer deals in the world.
I voraciously read computer manuals, specs, ads -- and scrutinized anything that
even remotely resembled a PC. My brain became the Geiger counter for
As a result, I’ve become the Head Purchasing Manager for a worldwide
non-profit organization consisting of 7000+ members – in charge of purchasing
computer equipment for overseas branches in South Korea, Russia, the
Philippines, China, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Europe.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Flashback to 1997.
Back then, I learned quite a few things about computer-buying that very few
people on this planet know about. I’m going to reveal some sneaky -- and
in some instances, illegal -- things that computer vendors do to bilk you out of
your hard earned cash.
1) Bait and Switch - Computer vendors generally resort to any
means to get you to their website or store first. The most common way is to lure
you there with the promise of the lowest prices. When you fall for the bait, and
visit their website or store, you’ll find that their prices are higher than
they advertised. They feed you the story that the advertised price was last
week’s price, or that price doesn’t include this component or that
peripheral. Vendors do this because, in the highly competitive business of
computer sales, this is sometimes the only way they get a shot at showing you
their wares. Then, they do the usual song-and-dance routine: “But while
you’re here, have I got a deal for you…” hoping you won’t go looking
2) Bankruptcy Routine - This trick consists of opening a ‘new’
computer outlet, selling product for a few months, shipping only a portion of
the orders, and then declaring bankruptcy and taking most of the customer’s
money. The people who do this are real crooks, and typically engage in this
practice many times.
3) Opportunistic Pricing - This is something very few people know
about. Mail order companies change their prices and specifications regularly.
They have a complex pricing policy where they employ experts whose only job is
to determine exactly how much the market will be willing to pay for a specific
4) Delayed Shipments - Some firms charge your credit card, and
ship your order within a week -- but since it is a legal requirement that the
goods are shipped to you within 30 days, it could take all of 30 days before
your goods leave their warehouse. And you may not be able to cancel your order.
They are, of course, earning interest on your money.
5) Shared Memory - As a cost cutting measure, some systems are
designed for the video card to share memory with the system itself and not to
have its own dedicated memory. Therefore a system with 64 MB RAM advertised with
a 4 MB card has only 60 MB of free RAM after the video card’s requirements. On
budget systems, this is common but you should be told about it. You could end up
buying a computer that has 64 MB of RAM and then find that you only really have
58 MB -- and you can't run a program that needs 64MB.
6) What You See Isn’t What You Get - As the components that go
into a machine are numerous and constantly changing, you may find that the
machine you receive is rarely the exact machine you ordered. These
differences are caused by the frequent non-availability of various components.
Additionally, some big name mail order firms’ sales reps get into the habit of
"forgetting" what price they gave you for the equipment you asked for
– and, as a result, you get sent a system that’s missing parts that
Now, before you go running to the first “reputable” computer store thinking
it’s your safest bet, you have to know that those big players also have
a slew of deceptive practices up their sleeves. Furthermore, they go to great
lengths to hire professional salespeople. Quite frankly, unless you’re one of
the small percentage of people who possess computer-buying savvy, you are putty
in the hands of trained computer salespeople. They know exactly how to
manipulate you, entice you, allay your fears and, most importantly, close the
deal. How about you – are you a trained computer buyer?
Do you know for instance….
…what day of the week it’s best to buy a computer to get the best
…the closely-guarded tactic to saving at least $500 on your next
…what advertised feature you should never pay a single dime for when
buying a computer?
…when it’s OK to buy "clones" or generic brands?
…why you should beware of advertisements that scream “Free Printer”,
“Free Scanner” and “Free Software”?
My friend, Mark Joyner, and I reveal those secrets for free in another
I don’t want you thinking there are no happy endings in the world of computer
buying. It's absolutely mind-blowing what astronomical margins some firms
make on PCs, and how incredibly simple it is for buyers to get huge
discounts on those prices - if they know how.
Epilogue: I have a recent success story of my own to tell. I just bought myself
a new laptop -- a beautiful IBM Thinkpad T20 with all the bells and whistles at
about $1400 below listed price!
All I can say is, beating the computer bullies at their own game is the best
Cho is the author of “Computer
Buying Secrets Revealed!”, the only book of its kind that shows how anyone
can save at least $500 on their next computer purchase.