Computer Retailers Cheat Customers During Economic Crisis

Comptuer retailers cheat their customers In the past month, I personally experienced two instances where used merchandise was sold as new without disclosure. The first time, it was with a brand new Dell Vostro desktop where the hard drive turned out to have been already used for 15,000+ hours! The second time, sold us a used hard drive telling us it was a new unit.

How did I know that these computer retailers sold used hard drives as new? Easy. I used a tool called Seatools by Seagate (a hard drive manufacturer) to read the power-on hours from both hard drives. Most hard drives, when used, will log the number of hours that it has been powered on. This information just requires the right tool to be retrieved.

Dell Sells Used Product as New

The brand new Dell Vostro destop with a hard drive that have been powered on for 15,000+ was a big shocker; 15,000 hours is equivalent to 625 days! After speaking with Dell Canada’s business tech support staff (whom by the way are always very courteous and helpful and were most sympathetic this time), we were directed to Dell’s normal customer care team. Even though we received a used product when we purchased a new one, the first response was that the purchase was more than 30-days old and nothing could be done. Note, the purchase was only 10-days past that mark. To make a long story short, we were finally transferred to a Canadian customer care representative and now have a brand new replacement hard drive in the Vostro machine. Sells Used Product As New

Not long after the Dell incident, history quickly repeated itself. Being weary of getting a used hard drive again, a call was placed to confirm with a sales rep from that we would receive a new hard drive and not a refurbished one. We received confirmation and purchased the hard drive.

The red flag went up right from the get go. Normally, when you install a new hard drive into a computer, it will not boot up and notify you with a message stating that it cannot find a bootable drive or something to that effect. With the supposedly new purchased drive, it returned a blue screen of death upon boot up instead.

The second red flag came when trying to install Windows XP. Normally when you install XP on a clean drive, it will ask you where you want to install the OS. This time, the installation process found another version of Windows already installed and warned that it might cause problems to install two operating systems on one partition.

Given that has been in business locally since 1999 and that their sales rep had assured us that they only sell new merchandise, we gave them the benefit of the doubt that both the above flags were simply anomalies and probably nothing to worry about.

After Windows was successfully installed, we ran Seatools on the supposedly new hard drive and found that it’s power-on hours show that this was indeed a used hard drive. Not again – two separate instances from two separate computer retailers!

Check Your SMART Info

Most people would never consider or even know how to check power-on hours on their newly purchased computer or hard drive. Because of shady business practices, the customer would have spent hard earned dollars on used merchandise thinking that they had purchase a brand new product. Here is how you can protect yourself.

The power-on hours and even the temperature of your hard drive is stored in the SMART information section (available on most computer hard drives). As I mentioned, Seatools can retrieve and show you this type of information. Another popular program called SpeedFan can also retrieve SMART info as well. For those who just purchased a new computer or hard drive, be sure to check your SMART info!

When is it OK for Computer Retailers To Cheat Customers?

If this sort of sneaky behaviour occurs from the local computer store to an industry leader like Dell, imagine what could be happening at every level in between? To say that I am irritated is an understatement. With large technology retailers like Circuit City and The Source filing for bankruptcy recently, it shows that consumers are not spending in this sector during the financial crisis. But does an economic down turn give computer retailers the go-ahead to cheat their customers? Imagine if pharmaceutical companies decided one day that in order to get through tough economic times, they would sell returned or even expired medications? So when was it OK for computer retailers to start cheating their customers?

Ian Lee
Work from home dad, marketer and photographer. Fallen in love with basketball all over again as I coach my daughter's team.

23 thoughts on “Computer Retailers Cheat Customers During Economic Crisis”

  1. WOW! This look much more of a inside story. I never though that things i am purchasing thinking as new may be a used one. This is really a thing of shame if big companies are doing it and no it is not fine to cheat customers in time o crises because they are cheating with their promises. They are selling used things in name of new thing which is just a breach of trust which is not acceptable at any cost.

  2. well, i don’t think it should EVER EVER be okay for any business to cheat their customers… it is true that it is somewhat more understandable that it would be happening nowadays, however, considering the economic state of things, but that still doesn’t make it okay.
    also, i must say that this post just went to reinforce what i have personally experienced from two companies: dell and seagate. dell sucks (horrible customer service (except maybe in canada?) and wack products), and seagate is great (i always feel that i can trust their products/services).

  3. I’ve heard of selling refurbished products before, but only if the purchaser knows about it beforehand. It can be a great way to get certain items that are still in great shape at a much better price. I can’t believe you were misled three times though! Once I could understand being a mistake, not several instances with different companies. Hope your new products are working well, and thanks for the heads up on Seagate.

  4. It’s never okay for any business to cheat customers. Maybe that’s part of why the economy is so bad. When people don’t get what they pay for, they get stingy with their money.

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  5. Now that’s alot of BAD karma being generated. I guess some people are really only in it (lifes journey) for the dollar. It will only return to bite them on the …. I wonder how a hardware novice could check to see if everything they were buying was new?

  6. @MLDina: Thanks for your well wishes. Yes, the new gear is working out well.

    @Melbourne Accommodation: It is difficult to check every component, but as I mentioned above for hard drives, you can download the manufacturer’s tool and access the SMART info to see the “Power-On” hours. This will tell you how long the hard drive has been in use. Hope that helps.

  7. @sauger : The original sales person at A-power who assured me that they only sold new merchandise sounded sympathetic on the phone when I let him know what had happened. He was so sympathetic that he was going to try and make things right by sending a $10 coupon. Not that $10 was going to completely make things right but the gesture was noted. Almost 90-days later and nothing has arrived in the mail. Needless to say, A-power has lost a customer and all of my client referrals.

  8. I question if it is the economy that has these retailers behaving like this or if it is more of where as we as a society are headed.
    More and more retailers despite the loss of sales right now will do whatever it takes to increase profits for shareholders and coorporate bigwigs to get checks from.

  9. Good post.I have noticed the same thing.Retailers not only sell used stuff as new but also cheat people into buying stuff they don´t really need.If you do office work a basic computer is enough.There is no need for a computer meant for playing games with.

  10. Hope I would have born some two centuries back. Man it is hard to acquire all the knowledge to live in this world without being cheated.

  11. Thanks for this information and I am completely agree with you that these type of cheats are commonly done by computer retailers because I have already faced such problem in the past.

  12. Well!
    That makes you wonder how long this has been going on?
    I know that the Mobile companies (cell phones) have been doing this for years, if a mobile goes back to the supplier for software problems, they sometimes will give a new phone in it’s place, then once the old phone has been updated with the new software, the company will re-box it and sell it as new. if there is no damage.

    I wonder how many other companies do the same thing?
    Thanks for the heads up and the info on how the check.
    good work.

  13. Wow! Thanks for the information…it gives a new meaning to “buyer be ware”.

    SeaTools looks like a handy tool for regular check-up’s too – Thanks

  14. I think it is better to purchase a refurbished computer then a new one because it save our major amount!

  15. Most people would never consider or even know how to check power-on hours on their newly purchased computer or hard drive.

  16. This sad, but it still happens. I build and repair computers so I am aware of these tactics, but its when regular people go out there to purchase computers that they get screwed. I do feel some joy in my shop knowing I am selling them products that are used and they clearly know about. Buying new computers today is almost a waste of money since most people only need to for basic things.


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