I’ve had a lot of bad breaks (pun intended) where technology is concerned. One of my most frustrating was on of my firsts. I was eighteen, and I needed a computer for school. My family had a computer, but I was college, taking several classes that would have me writing papers constantly, making it hard for my siblings to get in time on AOL Instant Messenger.
Thus, my parents lovingly set out to buy me my first computer. Now, I was a bit green concerning technology at this point, and so, it seems, were my parents. I’m not sure how they heard about it, but my parents decided to go to a computer convention trade-show at a local convention center. While there, they purchased two new, custom-made computers.
Sounds great, right? It would be, perhaps, if Sir Jony Ive were doing it for you. These guys…not so much. The computer powered on once, I think. And that was it.
Taken, Deceived, Hurt—All of the Above
My mom asked a computer tech friend to come over, and she did everything she possibly could to save this machine. Nothing. Essentially, the drive was dead. We’d bought a machine with a dying drive.
We’d been taken, and I’m sadly, at that point, I didn’t have a “very particular set of skills” that I had “acquired over a very long career.”
The computer was dead, and my parents were out a couple hundred dollars. We tried to call the company, but only occasionally got anyone on the phone. It didn’t take long before the phone number came up as disconnected. I think my parents were able to get at least some money—maybe all of it? It was a while back, and it wasn’t my money—back after involving the credit card company. Thankfully, my dad’s a bit of a frugal individual, and there was no way he was going to just take this on the chin.
Of course, none of that changed the fact that I had to get another computer, which worked out ok. I got a Compaq Presario a few weeks later…just before Compaq was folded into HP, but that’s another story.
How to Not Be Taken
Let me impart a few tips about how not to be taken for a ride by a bad computer purchase.
Buy from a reputable source. Maybe I’m bitter, but unless you’re bold enough to actually take the computer apart in front of them and check it for yourself, don’t buy a computer from a random booth at a computer show. Purchase directly online (Dell, Apple, etc.) or from a known and trusted retail location—Apple Stores, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, or an established computer store in your town that has a long history of good customer service.
Research Know what you want, know what all of the terms (RAM, hard drive, flash drive, etc) mean, and know what the marketplace is charging for what you want. Impulse purchases are rarely good. Take your time and do the reading required to find out what you truly need.
And that’s about it. Basically, don’t be a sucker. If it sounds amazing for a crazy price, it’s probably crap.
Do you have a tech wreck?
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