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How To Keep PC Component Swappers From Ripping You Off

Updated on July 31, 2008

Many moons ago I knew a lady who made her living in a very unusual manner. She had a virtually photographic memory so she would shop around the high end department stores until she'd see an expensive dress that had a huge price spread to exactly the same dress in another store. She would then proceed to buy the dress in cash at the cheaper store, then show up at the more expensive store, claim it didn't fit right and ask for a refund. She would say that she lost her receipt and 99 times out of 100 she'd walk out with cash. Given that the price spreads between dresses in these stores can be hundreds of dollars, she did quite well for herself. Almost quite well, as she soon ran out of high end department stores in her city and an eagle eyed manager caught her doing this a bit too often and got her arrested.

A not dissimilar scam has been making the rounds in the computer business. First of all, let me say it with all the emphasis I can muster, no one but the most experienced computer expert should ever even consider purchasing any electronic equipment off an auction site. Most people have absolutely no idea what is inside their cases and would never think of confirming that they got the exact type and specification of product that they paid for. This aspect became amply clear to me a few months ago when a friend asked me to come over and check why the brand new E6750 Core 2 Duo he had purchased was barely faster than his old AMD Athlon 64 X2 3600+ Manchester. I didn't even have to pop the side door off his case to figure out what had happened: All it took was a quick look at the System Control Panel. He had ordered and paid for an E6750 but he had received an E4300. Which means he got ripped off for 860 MHz of clock speed, 533 MHz of FSB, 2 MB of L2 cache memory, and a whole lot of performance. Not to mention that the E6750 sells for about $120 more than the E4300.

It seems that there are plenty of fancy footwork leger de main three card monte operators in the computer business who like nothing better than to sell one product and ship a very different one. And you can bet that the product that they ship is always much less expensive than the one the customer paid for.

You should never shop from any online etailer unless you are well aware of their reliability and professionalism. Check the electronics and computer forums to find out what companies have the best reputation and then only deal with them. No matter who you buy the unit from immediately check out absolutely everything in the case against what you ordered. There are various utilities such as the free download at which will analyze your entire configuration and give you the lowdown on what you have. It sure beats trying to decode all sorts of strange alphanumerics etched on your circuit boards, and it most certainly beats getting mercilessly ripped off by the component swappers!


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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto

      I've purchased tens of thousands of dollars of computer components in the past few years and all from very reputable etailers. I usually rely on as they have superlative service, good prices, excellent reputation and four stores a few hours drive away if I want to save myself some shipping on larger items. I've never had a problem with ncix. Then again, if someone is buying components from some noname in nowhere off Ebay, then they could very well get ripped off.

    • hot dorkage profile image

      hot dorkage 9 years ago from Oregon, USA

      I built a server from components ordered online about 5 years ago and I went the "decode strange alphanumerics etched all over the stuff" route and everything was exactly what they said it was. Perhaps from my confident and precise tone they flagged me as a "don't F with this chick," when in fact my knowledge of hardware goes in spurts, or perhaps not so many folks were into it back them.