Well it happened again, but this time it was my Linux server hard drive. Interesting because my Linux server is an 11 year old Dell with an Intel Pentium 4 processor that still performs about as fast as a Windows Server with duo core processors. It was the hard drive partitioned as “home”, where I keep all of the user data for the company that went down. That means that I could simple replace the drive, restore the data from one of my many backups, and be back in business in no time. Timing could not have been better as I use Friday as a “clean-up day”, and only had one appointment scheduled for noon. So I took off early just to see what I could find from local vendors, but instead of starting my safari in North Charleston, I began looking for vendor’s right here in Summerville.
Perusing the internet, I found Seagate 1 Terabyte 7200 rpm drives 32 Megs of cache for about $50, plus $10 shipping, so $60. This was up $15 from last year.
Last year’s hard drive safari was just like the year before, and the year before that, and so on. The only thing that changed was the names of the companies and the size of the drive.
This year was very different. The first three local computer stores that I visited did not stock hard drives. Why, I asked? The common answer was that drives are getting so much bigger, so fast, that if they bought a drive today for stock, it might be obsolete tomorrow. What was more interesting is that two of the three offered to buy a drive for me at Best Buy at cost, then charge only for installation and for restoring my data, around $200 for labor. Best Buy price was $79.95. That plus installation is almost $300. No way would I put $300 into an 11 year old computer. Just doesn’t make sense! Besides, when I told them it was Linux, they admitted that they couldn’t work on it anyway.
So I made the trek through Summerville, down Hi way 78 to Rivers, stopping at each computer store I found. I couldn’t find anyone in Summerville that stocked hard drives. The two stores I visited on Hi way 78 last year were gone. But then I found the same stores on Rivers Avenue that I visited the last couple of years.
No new tricks here. The first store offered a 320 gig for $70.00. OK - kind of old and small, that will work ring it up! Your total is $106.48. WHATTT! How do you get $106.48 from $70.00??? "Sorry sir, I got the wrong price." The darn thing wasn't even in a box and the plastic wrap was torn. Thinking back, this same store tried the same trick on me last year, and the year before. In fact, it looked liked the same old “piece of drive”!
The next store offered a 320 gig for $149.00. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing; $149.00 for a 320 gig drive? I asked to talk with the manager. He was friendly, and we talked about the high price of overhead, and how shipping prices have doubled in the last year. As such he said “you seem to be a nice guy. I’ll tell you what; I’ll let you have the drive for $99.” The manager became visibly upset when I told him about the Best Buy price turned him down.
The next store had a 500 gig drive for $79.95, but when they rang it up on the register, it came up $99.95 plus tax. What’s the extra $20 for? The Sada cables were extra. Now, I know that the drive came with Sada cables, power and data. These guys snatch the cables out of the box, reseal the box, mark the cables at $19.95, and put them on a rack for sale. What a “rip off”! Time to move on!
I began to tire from the adventure, so I went to the same store that I bought a drive from last year, Wal Mart. Guess what? They don’t sell internal hard drives anymore. What a shock because last year they nearly matched the online price AND, if a drive fails, they replace it immediately. Other stores would make you send it back to the manufacturer, and that could take weeks.
So Wal Mart was OUT! Now, what to do? I slid into Best Buy. First I went to the “Geek Squad” counter. Interesting deal. They said, buy your hard drive at the store (you pick it out and pay for it), then we will install it for $150. I asked for a written estimate and they said ok. Much to my surprise, the total wasn’t $150, but $219.95, that’s and extra $69.95. What is that for? The answer, diagnostics. They don’t do anything without running diagnostics first. When I told them the computer ran Linux, they retracted their offer.
So I went into the retail part of the store and found my drive, Seagate 1T, for $79.95 plus tax. Time to end this adventure, make my noon appointment, and get the server running.
At the register the checkout person was very insistent that I apply for a Best Buy credit card. I kept saying NO NO NO and she kept say But But But. The deal is that if I apply, I get $20 off of my purchase. That means my drive goes from $79.95 to $59.95, and that I’m under no obligation to accept the credit card. What a deal. I bought the drive, got the discount, turned down the card, and was off to my appointment, $20 to the good.
For many computer stores, the game has changed very little. If they sell a Dell with a 1 Ter drive, it may have originally come from the factory with a 350 gig drive. They take that one out and place it in a plastic wrapper and sell it for $150.00 plus $20.00 for cables. Then they buy a 1Ter gig drive for $50 with cables and mark the Dell unit up $150.00. The new cables that came with the drive are placed in new packaging and sold separately. That’s $295.05 in additional profit.
Perhaps if we run out of drives next year, we’ll write a “hard drive safari 2013.