Hard Drive Safari
Saturday I needed a hard drive for a computer. Since I needed it NOW and didn't have one in stock, I safaried to North Charleston to see what kind of local deals I could find from a computer store. This became quite an adventure as you will soon see, but first a little history lesson on computer stores.
The first IBM PC store in Charleston was Franklin computer. Sure you could buy Tandy at Radio Shack and Apples from the local computer boutique, but Franklin was the only game in town for IBM PCs; you paid list price, and the waiting list was long but distinguished.
Soon, other computer stores opened (bearing the IBM name but not IBM Authorized) with unbelievable low prices on IBM PCs, even selling them for half the price of Franklin. Franklin, unable to compete, soon went by the wayside. But why the price differential? Franklin, an authorized IBM dealer, sold only "True Blue" PCs with only IBM parts inside. The other computer stores purchased "Bare Bones" IBM PCs on the "Grey Market" and built them up with "brand x" drives, memory, and peripherals. "True Blue" stores could not compete with "Grey Market" "Build-ups".
Some of the "build-ups" were of good quality, others were not so good. But it seems to me that if you advertise an IBM PC that it should be IBM through â€˜n' through. Otherwise it's like buying a Ford Mustang only to find a YUGO motor and transmission under the hood. Needless to say, I never played that game.
Well, so much for history, how about that; A quick look on the internet found a Seagate Barracuda 500 gig SATA drive with 32 megs of cache for $35.99 plus shipping. Best Buy offered the same drive for about $129.99. OUCH that hurt! Who said you couldn't make money on computer stuff.
So I made the trek back to Summerville along Rivers Avenue to Hi way 78 stopping at each computer store I found. The first store matched the Best Buy price on the same drive. The next 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. I let him keep his drive, kicked the dust from my feet and went on to the next computer store.
This store had an 200 gig for $70.00. As I waited in line the lady in front of me was paying for a $275.00 computer repair on an old computer worth about 2 cents. As she checked out she asked for a detailed list of the parts used to repair her PC and labor. "Sorry MAM, I can't do that. But your cash register receipt list codes for parts used and a total for labor". She asked the cashier, "Can you tell me what those parts are so I can write them down?' Cashier replied. "Sorry Mam, only the technician knows what those codes mean; NEXT!".
The cashier brought me a 200 gig drive covered in finger prints with no box. Then she handed me a power cable and a SATA data cable off the wall and said " 200 gig drive $70.00, Data Cable $15.00, Power Cable $15.00, Tax, that will be $106.50, and if it doesn't work when you install it, don't bring it back here, send it to Seagate". I let her keep that one too!
Next stop Wal-Mart: Dorchester Road. They had 6 Seagate 1 Ter SATA drives 16 megs cache in the box with cables and documentation for 98.98 plus tax, and a guarantee that if it didn't work, I could bring it back. Eureka! I HAVE MY DRIVE AT LAST!!!
Not so fast! When I got back to the shop and installed the drive it didn't work! So I trekked back to Wal-Mart for a quick exchange, popped it into the computer, and it didn't work again. Back to Wal-mart. Third times 's' a charm! It works!!! Finally!!! The experience was costly but I learned a lot.
For many computer stores, the game has changed very little. If they sell a Dell with a 500 gig drive, it may have originally come from the factory with a 150 gig drive. They take that one out and place it in a plastic wrapper and sell it for $70.00 plus $30.00 for cables. Then they buy a 500 gig drive for $35.00 dollars 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. Net gain, $205.00. And so on - and so on - and Scooby dooby dooby!