How Open Box can open you up to a scam
Any electronics enthusiast who spends even a modicum of time online shopping has had to have encountered an interesting and relatively new phenomenon: The Open Box. These items are sometimes quite heavily discounted and seem to be a great deal. Why bother spending $999 for a standard Whizztel 47.3 Gigahurts Corethonenom when the Open Box is only $849?
Although at first it may sound very attractive, under deeper analysis most Open Box deals should be shunned like hirsute howlers on a full moon. Any CPU which has been opened and taken out of the box has very likely been plugged into a motherboard's socket and past that point there is no telling what has been done to it. Many overclockers seem to have no regard for the integrity of electronics and even a few minutes running at a voltage setting far above the manufacturers' specifications can irreversibly damage a processor. The damage would likely not be evident via a visual examination, and there is no software that you can run to tell you whether your CPU has been OverFried. You likely won't know until your system begins to exhibit signs of instability, data corruption, or downright fails.
If you had purchased your Open Box from a major, reputable etailer, you might have some recourse to feasibly see at least some of your money back at some point in the future, but if you've dealing with some eBayer with feedback generated exclusively by his cousins, you may just be the proud and permanent owner of a chunk of completely useless silicon.
Open Box can be truly opening a can of worms not just for CPUs. Video cards, RAM, motherboards and other electronic personal computer components can be severely damaged by overclocking thus should purchased in Open Box only by consumers with more money than brains.
Overclocking is by far not the only way to damage electronic components before stuffing them back into the Open Box. An inordinate number of RAM SIMMs are damaged by forcing them into slots when they don't fit, and anything at all that has a slot, whether it be ISA, AGP, PCI, et al. can similarly be crunched. However, the number one source of invisible damage to electronic components has to be static electricity discharge. Although wrist straps can cost under a dollar and are readily available, very few electronics hobbyists (or technicians for that matter) bother to ground themselves with the straps before plunging into the innards of a sensitive computer.
You can try this experiment if you're crazy enough: Go dig out some polyester socks from the bottom of your drawer. Those Xmas ones with the bells that your Aunt Bertha gave you six years ago are perfect. Now put them on and drag your feet all over the carpets of the house. Once you're seeing some of the carpet fibers sticking to your socks like a Sixties Afro, drag on over to the electronic component that you have out of its static bag and is just sitting on the table. Slowly move your index finger towards the component. Once you're about half an inch away, you will see a mini-lightning bolt spark from your finger and strike the component, most likely taking it out of its operating misery forever. Even static discharges so small that you can't feel them are sufficient to permanently damage or destroy any personal computer electronic circuitry.
Remember that there's plenty of Malice out there in Blunderland: "Beware the Open Box, my son! The scams that bite, that suckers catch! Beware the eBay bird, and shun the frumious Discount Batch!"
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