Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Television Media It's funny.  Laugh. The Almighty Buck United States Hardware

There's a Sucker Converted Every Minute 395

Posted by timothy
from the and-probably-more-than-that dept.
Ponca City, We love you writes "Once the US converts from analog to digital broadcasting next February, those who receive their signals over the air will need a converter box for older, non-digital models. Government-approved converter boxes sell for $60 or less and a government-issued $40 rebate coupon is available for the asking but that hasn't stopped companies like the Ohio-based Universal TechTronics from offering supposedly free converter boxes. The gimmick: the box is free, as long as you pay $88 for a five-year warranty, plus $9.30 shipping. Universal TechTronics seems to specialize in 'high-tech' products of questionable value, marketing the Cool Surge portable air cooler, 'a work of engineering genius from the China coast so advanced that no windows, vents, or freon are needed' that uses the same energy as a 60-watt light bulb. It works by blowing a stream of air over two ice packs that you have previously frozen in your freezer. What's the best tech scam you've heard of lately?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

There's a Sucker Converted Every Minute

Comments Filter:
  • Tech scam? (Score:5, Funny)

    by jeiler (1106393) <go,bugger,off&gmail,com> on Saturday July 05, 2008 @03:41PM (#24068715) Journal
    "We have to filter P2P to solve network congestion"--Bell Canada.
    • Re:Tech scam? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by A beautiful mind (821714) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @04:04PM (#24068931)
      Mod parent insightful, instead of funny. Various people and some papers have suggested that upgrading network capacity is a better [oreillynet.com] way [internet2.edu] to handle high traffic than trying to mess with QoS, because 1. it's cheaper 2. it actually works, which isn't really proven to be the case for QoS on a large ISP level network.
  • Tech Scam (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05, 2008 @03:43PM (#24068739)

    DVD rewinders.

  • by Peter Cooper (660482) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @03:53PM (#24068821) Homepage Journal

    The "free" digital TV box gimmick is not necessarily a scam. Comparing a box with a 5 year warranty to one with a 1 year warranty is not a fair comparison. It's gimmicky pricing to make people think they're getting a great deal. A scam, on the other hand, requires deception to secure an unfair or unlawful gain. In this case, the user is getting a 5 year warranty rather than the typical 1 year warranty, so it is understandable the overall cost should be higher, meaning it's not an unfair or unlawful gain.

    (It could be argued that warranties aren't worth the paper they're written on. If a warranty is not workable, that's the part you can call a scam, not the gimmicky pricing.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The "free" digital TV box gimmick is not necessarily a scam. Comparing a box with a 5 year warranty to one with a 1 year warranty is not a fair comparison. It's gimmicky pricing to make people think they're getting a great deal. A scam, on the other hand, requires deception to secure an unfair or unlawful gain. In this case, the user is getting a 5 year warranty rather than the typical 1 year warranty, so it is understandable the overall cost should be higher, meaning it's not an unfair or unlawful gain.

      (It could be argued that warranties aren't worth the paper they're written on. If a warranty is not workable, that's the part you can call a scam, not the gimmicky pricing.)

      I agree it's not a scam, but a 5 year warranty on an item with no moving parts?

      One is born every minute, especially since you could buy 2 for less than this one and have a spare if teh first ever fails after a year.

    • Bathtub Curve (Score:5, Interesting)

      by msgmonkey (599753) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @04:18PM (#24069063)

      Retailers love to offer 5 year extended warranty because of the Bathtub Curve [wikipedia.org].

      Basically if a product does n't fail within one year then the probability it failing within five year years is very very low.

      This curve applies very well to consumer electronics with the added advantage that they depreciate in value quickly too.

    • by nbert (785663)

      (It could be argued that warranties aren't worth the paper they're written on. If a warranty is not workable, that's the part you can call a scam, not the gimmicky pricing.)

      It could also be argued that the real beauty of this (from the vendor's perspective) is the low probability that anyone who can't watch TV will send the box in and wait for more than a week for the repairs/replacement. It's far more likely that the entire household panics and someone is send to the next shop to buy a new box. If I was t

      • by Deadstick (535032)
        If I was the vendor I wouldn't even bother to hire technicians for repairs - just replace the few damaged ones that make it back.

        Nothing special about that...it's the preferred method of warranty service for any number of perfectly legitimate mass-produced products that don't have many modular subassemblies. The cost of disassembling, troubleshooting, repairing, reassembling and testing is generally way more than the incremental manufacturing cost of a new box.

        rj

    • by RattFink (93631)

      The "free" digital TV box gimmick is not necessarily a scam.

      That is all fine and good if they are up-front with it, however if they deliberately hide the $88 dollar charge things start heading toward sleaze. When they advertise something as free (or real cheap) and then start stacking on charges after the fact without the ability to opt out in my opinion and likely many others it becomes a scam.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        In some countries, it's illegal to use the word "free" if it is contingent on making a payment, for anything, at any time.

        It's a neat idea called "consumer protection", and I hope we'll get it here in the US too.

    • by Junior Samples (550792) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @04:43PM (#24069261)

      (It could be argued that warranties aren't worth the paper they're written on. If a warranty is not workable, that's the part you can call a scam, not the gimmicky pricing.)

      I bought a pair of Zenith DTT901 converters with my government coupons after researching the experiences of other users on AVSForums. The Zenith DTT901 only comes with a 90 day warranty. Considering the out of pocket cost of $10 to $20 with the government coupon ($49 - $59 retail), and the reputation of the manufacturer, does the warranty really matter?

      A 5 year warranty doesn't mean anything if the product is a piece of crap. Universal Techtronics brand isn't even on the CECB approved list:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CECB [wikipedia.org]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_CECB_units [wikipedia.org]

    • by Maxmin (921568) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @05:09PM (#24069507)

      Rubbish. Most electronic gadgets come with limited 30-day manufacturer warranties, with arduous repair/exchange requirements, and it's the retailer that offers an "extended warranty."

      Here, we have the next datapoint in the series, giving product away for free! But only if you pick up the expensive "warranty."

      The very fact that hardware manufacturers no longer stand behind their product means they now *anticipate* a high failure rate, which indicates they no longer design with reliability in mind. Gadgets have become disposable crap. Quality is no longer assured, it's avoided. Welcome the new revenue stream, "Quality Insurance," if you will.

      *That*, my industrialist-named friend, is the "scam" nowadays. Manufacturers have shifted reliability and warranty concerns from their pocketbook to the consumers.

      The day of the bathtub curve is over and done.

      • by Splab (574204) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @08:28PM (#24070989)

        The fun thing is they ship the crap stuff to the US and good stuff to EU because we require higher warranties. Here in Denmark for instance they are by law required to show that anything failing within the first 6 months is misuse by the customer. On top of that we get another 1 and a half year where any defects are still considered under warranty, but its up to the user to show that its a faulty product - however, in practice electronic shops grant a full 2 year warranty, with pretty much no questions asked due to the competition.

        So any company selling hardware in Denmark has to take care the stuff works or they will end up having to replace it 2 years down the road, that means the good runs end up here. (A good example is the Samsung F8 series, any model destined for Scandinavia is labeled BDX and comes with on site service per default and are pretty much guaranteed to work for 5+ years)

  • Kinoki Foot Pads (Score:5, Informative)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Saturday July 05, 2008 @03:54PM (#24068829) Homepage

    I've seem some scams recently, but the most amazing has to be Kinoki Foot Pads [youtube.com]. Let's ignore the fact that my understanding is the word "kinoki" is meaningless and the characters they use in the ad don't even read "kinoki".

    I'm used to all sorts of pseudo science in TV ads, but this one is downright amazing. Did you know tree roots are used to dispose of chemicals, and that my feet are actually tree roots? I'm so glad someone told me. I especially love the list of conditions that these things can cure. Even if they weren't fake and actually would detoxify you, I seriously doubt it would even touch many of those conditions. I seem to remember reading someone wrapped carrots with the pads just to prove that anything will make them blacken from "toxins".

    The ad id just amazing. I was dumbfounded the first time I saw it. Diet pill ads look like something out of the Mayo Clinic in comparison.

    • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @04:18PM (#24069065)

      The issue there is that you can have a disclaimer which says that none of these claims have been evaluated, even if it's not actually legible due the the TV screen resolution.

      The ad agency in general should never have been freed from the earlier regulations. Thanks to the Reagan administration, IIRC, advertising for medications is OK. You can also say whatever you want, as long as there's technically a disclaimer included, even if it's too long or small to be read.

      Advertisers are liars, that's basically their job, and it always has been. The problem is that the watchers would rather watch TV and the cash flow into their bank accounts than actually regulate the industry.

      The infinity razer springs to mind. It supposedly never requires a change of blades ever. Unfortunately, it doesn't break the laws of physics and as such the friction causes the blades to deteriorate. But the company is happy to sell you new blades. A cost which isn't disclosed in the ad, implying that it's free or of minimal cost.

    • Re:Kinoki Foot Pads (Score:5, Informative)

      by Koiu Lpoi (632570) <koiulpoi.gmail@com> on Saturday July 05, 2008 @04:18PM (#24069069)
      Well, (in Japanese, as that pronunciation makes little sense in Chinese), the characters shown on their advertisement read "Tree tree sap", and it makes about as much sense to write it that way in English as it does Japanese. That alone should tell you it's bullshit.
    • Re:Kinoki Foot Pads (Score:4, Informative)

      by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @04:31PM (#24069171)

      Let's ignore the fact that my understanding is the word "kinoki" is meaningless and the characters they use in the ad don't even read "kinoki".

      I think they are going for "ki no ki" (the first "ki" being "tree" and the second "spirit"; US Slashdot doesn't do Kanji, sorry) as in "spirit of trees" or some such. The word on the screen reads "kijoueki" which is "tree sap" (a bit redundant).

    • my absolute favorite is the extra "kitchen sink" inclusion of "ions" to purify your body.

      I would love to see them somehow manage to get loads of unbonded ions onto those pads. They tend not to be very picky about what they chemically bond with. I'd laugh so hard at the number of people whose feet have been eaten away.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AimHere2000 (1112185)

      You think Kinoki foot pads are a scam? Well, I've got one that may just top that.

      In magazines I've bought off the newsstands, I've seen an ad for a company purporting to have a machine that makes some kind of "enhanced" water, which supposedly has all kinds of miraculous health benefits. They have testimonials from people whose arthritic fingers were freed up, cancers beaten down, and the like. Now, the machine supposedly works by rapidly heating and cooling ordinary water, with the end result being that th

    • Spells over the web (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dubl-u (51156) *

      This is my most recent favorite: http://www.fastspells.com/ [fastspells.com]

      It's a pretty standard web shopping cart system, where you buy spells. Not that you can perform, mind you. You're paying for them to do hoodoo. No proof or anything, but they do guarantee their work.

      My favorite part is that they link out to a review site, ratethecaster.com, an independent site that says how good they are. Which just happens to be on the same IP.

      BEST SCAM EVAR!!!

  • by krnpimpsta (906084) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @03:57PM (#24068867)
    "It works by blowing a stream of air over two ice packs that you have previously frozen in your freezer." means = "no freon"?

    Well, then I'm also selling water-free water for places that have water shortages. Just add 1 cup of water to the device and you will have an entire cup of water that you can drink!
  • Another scam (Score:3, Informative)

    by SpacePunk (17960) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @03:58PM (#24068869) Homepage

    The 'coupon' you can get that covers 40 bucks of the price expires. Sometimes before people can actally find a converter box.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      The 'coupon' you can get that covers 40 bucks of the price expires. Sometimes before people can actally find a converter box.

      I listened to the Congressional hearing on the coupons.

      The coupons expire because they want you to get your converter box *now*.
      No expiration date = procrastination till the last minute.

      They do not want to reissue expired coupons because, in addition to the procrastination issue, it costs money to send issue new coupons.

      And as a side note, from the hearing, I got the impression that the government might be willing to reissue coupons and/or add a slight extension to the coupon deadline, but were worried that

      • by kenh (9056)

        There is only so much money alloted to pay for the converter box "coupons", and when it runs out, there will be no more coupons offered. That is the real, hard, limit. I could understand the expire date issue to motivate requestors to actually move on the offer, so that they can assess what coupons are "abandoned" and can be, in effect, re-issued to a new requestor.

        I seriously doubt that the government only sends coupons when there is a sufficient inventory to satisfy demand - that assumes a level of Gov't

  • So, if I have spare room in my freezer and it's already running 24/7, does it take more energy if there's more items in it?

    I assume freezers operate based on cooling the air to, say, -5C. If that's the case, if something has a high specific heat (like water) it doesn't take more energy for it to cool it, it just takes longer for it to cool.

    So, that ice-pack AC-like machine would use less electricity (if you don't use your freezer for food)?

    Not that it's so practical since you'd constantly need to be changi

    • by MMORG (311325) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @04:14PM (#24069025)

      The freezer removes heat from the icepack and dumps it into the room (plus extra, because of the work done). Then you take the icepack out of the freezer, put it in the "room cooling" device, where it takes heat from the room and puts it back into the icepack. Net result, your room is hotter than it was before. In order to get a net cooling effect, you have to dump the heat into a separate system that you don't care about (like outside). That's why air conditioners have vents to the outside.

      • by BrentH (1154987)
        And that's why AC's are more expensive and inherently less efficient than heating a house in cooler areas. You can create heat with 100% efficiency, but you can not ever cool with 100% efficiency.
        • Heat pumps can move far more heat than the energy they consume doing it. So much so, that people are now using them to warm their homes, as well as cool them.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_source_heat_pump [wikipedia.org]

          AC is expensive because people design houses and offices with giant windows which both let the sunshine in and keep the heat from getting out. And then build them in Texas.

          • by jbengt (874751) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @05:29PM (#24069707)

            AC is expensive because people design houses and offices with giant windows which both let the sunshine in and keep the heat from getting out. And then build them in Texas.

            Boy, you got that right.
            I worked on the HVAC design of a big modern house in the Dallas/Ft Worth suburbs (summer design temperature 105F/40C). It had a Great Room with a 12 ft high, 60 ft long glass window (the entire wall, floor to ceiling) facing West, overlooking a reflecting pool. (not much reflief from the hot afternoon sun in that layout) The building had lots of windows, skylights, glass elevator, glass stairs, even some glass floors. Interesting design, but about 3 times the A/C you would otherwise expect for a house that size.
            To be fair, it didn't inefficiently pump the heat to the hot outside air, but had a system of water-source heat pumps using ground-tempered water pumped in a closed loop through about sixteen 150 ft deep wells. (the architect refused to have visible condensing units for cooling or gas vents/chimneys for heating)

      • The benefit is if your fridge is in a different room than the room you want cooled.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      No, you're not. I'm a little bit shocked myself that that product was advanced as a scam. Sure the marketing hype is a bit over the top, but the device is fairly similar to the swamp coolers which many have used for decades in the US. Back when my dad was a kid, movie theaters would use a similar device for cooling.

      The main question is whether it's more efficient than AC or not. Lowering the temperature by a given amount requires a certain amount of energy to be removed regardless of how it's done. But the

      • by EdIII (1114411) *

        It is a scam. You are forgetting one thing about a Swamp Cooler. It just uses water as part of a heat exchanger system, and ALSO pumps the heat outside of the house. This product does not pump the heat outside of the house, therefore it is not actually cooling anything. It is a scam.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Rakishi (759894)

          As I understand it a swamp cooler does not pump any heat outside. When a liquid evaporates it cools itself and the surrounding substances. Thus a swamp cooler pumps dry outside air through wet surfaces. The moist air that comes out is cooler than the dry air that comes in. This cool air is then sent into the house.

      • by Rakishi (759894)

        No, you're not. I'm a little bit shocked myself that that product was advanced as a scam. Sure the marketing hype is a bit over the top, but the device is fairly similar to the swamp coolers which many have used for decades in the US. Back when my dad was a kid, movie theaters would use a similar device for cooling.

        No, it's not. A swamp cooler works by letting water evaporate and requires no energy expenditure on that water beforehand. This device requires you to freeze the water beforehand which results in a net increase in the room temperature unless you do things creatively.

        The problem with AC is that it's trying to do so in real time and doesn't get the advantage that a typical stand alone freezer does. You can potentially stock up most of an entire days worth of ice in the evening when things often times cool down and then shift those ice cubes to the part of the day where it's hotter.
        The only real question is how much energy is really saved over AC.

        You may be using more energy in the end depending on the day/night temperature differences of the room in question. Efficiency is dependent on the difference between the hot and cold sides of a room and the temperature you want your cool side to

        • by JebusIsLord (566856) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @05:28PM (#24069685) Homepage

          Specifically, swamp coolers work because of the energy (heat) absorbed in the phase change from liquid water to vapour. Changing a litre of liquid water to vapour, with no temperature change, requires that siginificant energy must be added to the system.

          Another way to look at it, is that a given quantity of liquid water has the same specific heat as a much cooler quantity of vapour.

    • by KPU (118762)

      This is roughly the same as opening the door to your fridge. In the short term, the local temperature goes down. By the time the fridge has again cooled the air inside, it has emitted more than enough heat to cancel out the initial cooling. All this does is separate the heating and cooling. If the fridge is well ventilated, it might actually cool the place down. However, if you turn an inside fan on, all you're doing is heating the place.

      Subject to cooling the same amount of water, the amount of time i

    • First, you have to accept that you can't just create "heat" or "cold" from nothing, nor can you destroy it. You can, however, move it from one place to another. As water freezes into ice, it absorbs "cold" from the local environment. Similarly, when it melts, it releases the "cold" into the surroundings. That's how the ice-pack air conditioner works.

      "Hot" and "cold" are basically the same thing, only with opposite polarities. The above thermal exchange could be viewed as "melting ice absorbs heat"
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by EdIII (1114411) *

      Am I completely off base?

      Yes.

      So, if I have spare room in my freezer and it's already running 24/7, does it take more energy if there's more items in it?

      Yes it does take more energy.

      I assume freezers operate based on cooling the air to, say, -5C. If that's the case, if something has a high specific heat (like water) it doesn't take more energy for it to cool it, it just takes longer for it to cool.

      So, that ice-pack AC-like machine would use less electricity (if you don't use your freezer for food)?

      The ice-pa

    • by Deadstick (535032)
      First, as another poster mentions, you have to cool the icepacks repeatedly. Every time you return them to the freezer, you put some heat into it.

      Second, you increase the energy expended by the freezer every time you open the door and let warm air in.

      rj

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @04:04PM (#24068935)
    What's the best tech scam you've heard of lately?

    Do you mean other than those $60 converter boxs and $40 Government coupons that expire in less than 80 days after people receive them? The coupons are a great deal for the importers and sellers, but in reality the customer ends up paying about whet they would if there were no coupon program, perhaps more when you realize they pay sales tax on the entire ticket price. In a world where I can buy a DVD player in a local store for $29 or less, these much simpler converter boxes should not be costing $60.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Detritus (11846)
      They aren't "much simpler". An ATSC tuner is a very complex device. Only recently have chipsets with good performance and low cost become available.
  • Best Tech Scam (Score:5, Informative)

    by UserChrisCanter4 (464072) * on Saturday July 05, 2008 @04:10PM (#24068985)

    Well, the cell phone antenna booster "stickers" were probably the single best tech scam. It combined laughably ineffective "technology" with the always successful price-so-low-it-doesn't-matter-if-they-don't-work.

    More recently, I'm still astounded by the number of "BOOST YOUR MPG!" schemes that involve additives or random crap shoved in your air intake. I especially love the accusations from promoters that the auto manufacturers are in it with the oil companies. GM and Ford are both facing a very real possibility of chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the word is that Cerberus is quietly readying a giant hammer of doom over at Chrysler. If all it took was a $2 piece of metal to get 9 more mpg out of a Malibu, don't you think they'd have done it by now? See the cell phone boosters for the basic premise: if you only charge $40 for one of these things, people won't be too pissed when they find out that it doesn't work.

    There are many MLM schemes that differentiate themselves from the regular Amway crowd by pitching websites that MAKE YOU MONEY. I was actually approached by two different classmates about five years ago regarding the scheme, and it was so comically bad to anyone with any kind of tech knowledge that you couldn't help but laugh. Picture MLM combined with an Amazon-style referral bonus for online purchases. Now charge someone $400 to participate, and charge extra for adding basic things to their company website. Now make sure the websites resemble GeoCities circa 1997. Now we're talking!

    My other favorite is the speaker scam, which someone tried to pull on me about two weeks ago (I hadn't heard of these for years). It's not really a tech scam, just your basic grift that happens to involve technology: an "installer" got an extra set of speakers/surround sound system/plasma TV accidentally loaded in his van for a big install job. Last time this happened, his boss reamed him a new one for not noticing in the first place, then sold them and kept the cash himself. Installer figures he'd "cut out the middleman" and you look like the kind of guy who knows good equipment. Usually they're selling actual speakers or receiver (the plasma scams generally involved an oven door in a box with a window), and they often have some custom-made audio magazine with their brand of speaker on the cover and a great review inside. You end up buying $20 worth of garbage for $200. Dogg Digital and Kirsch were the big names in the white van speaker scam years ago. Google them for an entertaining and depressing look at human nature.

    • Re:Best Tech Scam (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Hollinger (16202) <michaelNO@SPAMhollinger.net> on Saturday July 05, 2008 @04:36PM (#24069207) Homepage Journal

      My other favorite is the speaker scam, which someone tried to pull on me about two weeks ago (I hadn't heard of these for years). It's not really a tech scam, just your basic grift that happens to involve technology: an "installer" got an extra set of speakers/surround sound system/plasma TV accidentally loaded in his van for a big install job. Last time this happened, his boss reamed him a new one for not noticing in the first place, then sold them and kept the cash himself.

      They've moved to eBay. A year or two ago, I was trying to find some new speakers. I spent several hours clicking around the various brands and types on eBay, and for kicks (maybe because I'm slightly evil) I'd place a few opening bids on obviously high-end items, knowing I'd lose the auction. The next morning I had "congrats! You've won!" email in my inbox, and an invoice for $78 for a pair of DR-SL-900 [ebay.com] speakers. It took me all of 10 minutes to figure out that these were a scam [google.com]. I offered to pay the relisting fees as a good netizen, expecting something like $5:

      Item: DR-SL-900 HOME THEATER SPEAKERS SURROUND SOUND (5836587072)
      This message was sent after the listing closed.
      ou_mike_hollinger is the winner.

      Hello,

      I just won this pair of speakers. To be honest, I didn't expect to win a $1500+ dollar pair. I thought my bid would be outbid rather quickly.

      Can I just pay your re-listing fees or something? I sell on eBay as well, and hate it when people do this, but someone offered to cover my relisting fees for eBay, which pretty much removed all the expense from my pocket.

      How does that sound to you?

      Sorry for the inconvenience,
      ~ Mike

      And promptly got this note back:

      From: Chrisstfo@aol.com [mailto:Chrisstfo@aol.com]
      Sent: Saturday, December 03, 2005 8:40 AM
      To: mhollinger@ou.edu
      Subject: Re: Message from eBay Member Regarding Item #5836587072

      Hi, that would be fine. Please pay $45 asap. Thanks, Chris

      After replying that that was a ripoff, I got back a note detailing the various fees they paid, which totaled $30. Where'd the extra $15 come from? After that, I told them I'd researched the product, and that they could initiate the dead-beat bidder process, so I could take the negative feedback and be on my merry way.

      I got this response:

      Hi, yes it does come out of stock as soon as we list the item. The item is taking down and packaged very well. There is nothing wrong with the products that we sell. Please see our feedback everyone loves them. They are great speakers and we stand behind d them 110%. The sites that you mentioned are all bullshit from people that have no idea what they are talking about. If you would like you could pick up a copy of E_GEAR and see that the speakers where tested by pros and the rated them 5 stars. We spent a lot of time listing them and packaging them. We are very easy to deal with. Please pay what you think is fair and we will leave it @ that. If you would like you can contact us @ 201-450-1145. Thank You, Chris

      I told them "no deal," and they opened an "unpaid item dispute" against me. I put in the dispute that they were a scam, and about an hour later the dispute was closed for the reason: "payment has been received." Hah. I was actually waiting for them to leave me positive feedback...

      So I learned my lesson: Always research before you bid on eBay, even if the bid's not serious. ;-)

      • Re:Best Tech Scam (Score:5, Interesting)

        by lubricated (49106) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <plahcim>> on Saturday July 05, 2008 @05:41PM (#24069779)

        I don't get it. Why did you offer any money to someone trying to scam you?
        How did you figure out it was a scam, other than the cheap price?
        It all sounds good but the details don't make sense to me.

        • Re:Best Tech Scam (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mxs (42717) on Sunday July 06, 2008 @01:16AM (#24072691)

          The OP is trying to make himself seem like the good guy in the story. Here is what happened :

          Guy goes to eBay. Guy finds lots of speakers that he thinks are worth lots of moolah. Guy thinks to himself, hey, maybe I can bid low and rip somebody off (legally, $1 auctions have been known to net you high-priced goods whenever christmas and easter fall on the same day). Guy proceeds to bid on stuff with impunity without researching what he's bidding on.

          Guy waits a day.

          Guy actually wins an auction for an item. He didn't bother to read the description and model number the first time. He did not bother to research the item before he placed a bid. Guy thinks he's being scammed because, hey, he actually got an item for the price he bid. Guy is panicking. Guy wants out of this deal. Guy comes up with "They are SCAMMING ! This is not the item I bid on ! This is sub-standard quality gear ! I know, let's be a douchebag and offer to relist the item, I don't want to be held accountable to the bid I entered !"

          Seller, meanwhile, gets annoyed. Since he does not want negative feedback (which is bad, bad stuff on eBay), he tries to work out a deal that is to everybody's satisfaction. Buyer offered to pay relisting, so seller takes the deal. Buyer does not believe the fee. Buyer is getting annoying and costing a lot of money in time spent. Seller offers buyer to pay whatever he deems fair as relisting fee. Buyer declines, frothing at the mouth. Seller initiates dead-beat buyer proceedings, as ANY reputable seller would, seeing as how they are the ones being scammed out of their listing fee.
          Seller ultimately decides to cut their losses and not deal with buyer anymore, not deal with eBay in this matter, not risk negative feedback, and just moves on, writing this off as the cost of doing business.

          Meanwhile, douchebag buyer thinks he's won and really shown them. He hasn't been scammed. The speakers were listed on the eBay listing. He could have researched. Since he feels he is in the righteous right, he posts unanonymized eMails and tries to pass these guys off as scumbags ... I have yet to see any evidence of that. If he had been delivered a box full of bricks, we might have a story. He hasn't.

    • by eln (21727)

      That's funny, I had someone try to pull that speaker scam on me just a few weeks ago. I had never heard of it before, but the whole thing seemed shady to me, so I told him to take a hike. My initial thought was that the speakers were stolen, but now that you mention it it's probably more likely he was trying to sell me garbage in a box.

    • by schon (31600)

      If all it took was a $2 piece of metal to get 9 more mpg out of a Malibu, don't you think they'd have done it by now?

      No, why would you think they would? What is their motivation to spend money they don't have to? Americans have proven that they don't care about fuel efficiency (witness the love of SUVs), so a lower MPG wouldn't increase sales - so why on earth would GM increase the cost of their cars when it has no benefit to them?

      Please don't read this to mean that I believe the "MPG enhancers" are a scam - it's just that your logic as to *why* it's a scam is entirely flawed.

      A story: the 1541 disk drive used software t

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jerf (17166)

        No, why would you think they would?

        No fair cutting the previous two sentences out of your quote; you either missed the point that they are directly connected to the sentence you quote or you're being deceptive.

        What is their motivation to spend money they don't have to?

        That the whole "big comfortable ensconced business takes advantage of its overwhelmingly dominant position to screw the consumer" storyline completely fails when it's actually "three big uncomfortable rapidly-dying businesses refusing out of (

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        My logic as to why they're a scam has nothing to do with their absence on manufactured cars and everything to do with an absence of any proof that they do work.

        Go walk into a dealership, take a look at a $27,000 truck marked down to $18,000 and tell me Americans don't care about fuel efficiency now. In the era of $1.50 gasoline, you're right, Americans didn't give a damn. That ship sailed about 3 years ago.

        Further, American manufacturers have almost no competitive advantage again Japanese and Korean autos

    • Re:Best Tech Scam (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hardburn (141468) <hardburn&wumpus-cave,net> on Saturday July 05, 2008 @06:52PM (#24070327)

      There's tons of money to be made in the audiophile market. Just apply a little creativity along with some technobabble, then price it higher than anybody else. It won't be long before forum posts start praising your products as producing "warmer" sound.

      Some of my favorites:

      • Crygenically frozen cables; basically, dip the cables in liquid nitrogen (which you can get surprisingly easy and cheap), let them thaw, and charge $1000
      • Cable burn-in service; put a sine wave through a cable for a week and only charge $500. For those poor audiophiles who can't afford the cryo treatment. Package deal with cryo treatment for only $1300. Sawtooth waves are an extra $200, or $100 with cryo package. Send your cables back once a year for re-treatment for only $150 per go ($180 for sawtooth waves).
      • Wood block that has been "resonance treated" by sitting under an amp playing classical music for a month, which they then put under their own amp.
      • Claim you have a technology which can improve their sound setup over the phone. Basically, you're charging $100 for the service of processing their credit card.

      I've tried for years to tell these people that these companies are a big scam, but audiophiles are a daft group. I'm about ready to give up the argument and run a scam myself. Someone is making a fortune off them, and it might as well be me.

  • I have a 20 month old Samsung 46" LCD TV. It now needs over $700 in repairs because of one of two blown video boards. So if had paid for the extended warranty I would already paid in that $700 - so it's a wash either way. If I paid $700 for the TV (e.g a smaller one), with or without any warranty at all, it's actually cheaper to throw the TV off the fucking roof and get a new one.

    • Extended warranties make sense in a few situations. Of course, "self-insuring" is a much better idea. If you're tempted to buy the warranty on something, just take the money you would have spent on the warranty and dump it in a high-interest savings or money-market account. It's essentially the same thing the insurer is doing anyway (although, of course, they're spreading it out over many more claims than you will). You also get to make the call to toss it all and get a new one instead of waiting in rep

      • by gelfling (6534)

        I guess my basic objection is that the durability of consumer electronics is now INVERSELY related to the price. Seems like you're screwed either way. Get a cheap off brand TV and it breaks and no one can fix it. Get a name brand and they rape you on the repairs until it really makes no sense to bother at all.

      • One thing that can make extended warranties worthwhile is that the cost to repair a broken item is much higher to you than it is to the company offering the warranty. For instance, if you have a laptop and something on the logic board breaks, you can easily spend $400 finding a replacement logic board. However the company making the machine really spends less than $200 on it (probably far less than that). The issue is that they are the only source of replacement parts, the whole vendor lock-in problem.

        I've learned my lesson, and now buy extended warranties on laptops. The extended warranty on my Macbook has more than paid for itself already, and in the end got me an upgrade to a model released a year and a half after I bought mine. Hopefully I don't need to use the warranty again, but it's very nice knowing I don't have to worry about it. Plus, while it might be cheaper to repair some things on your own, you really need to value your time on getting something fixed. How long does it take to find the parts, a place to fix it etc. How long will your item be out of commission. It's quite convenient to call one number and get a box to return the item in the next day.

        Phil
  • Of course, Made in Eureka... [scifi.com]

  • by totalnubee (223194) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @04:30PM (#24069163)

    That type of cooler is called an evaporative or swamp cooloer [wikipedia.org]. It's no air conditioner, but it can be effective in some cases and is definitely not a tech scam.

  • by mzs (595629)

    I bought a DVD VCR combo from Frys that only recorded to the VHS tape. I only learned this when I took it home and read the manual. The sign on the shelf clearly called it a 'DVR' even said it was 'compatible with DVD+-R' but not that it recorded to DVD. I had to take it back. They said that the sign was not misleading saying that a DVD player was 'digital' and the VCR was the 'video recorder' part. Then I had my wife try to take it back and she had no problems. I wonder if it was a scam or incompetence.

  • by Dr.Pete (1021137) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @05:02PM (#24069451) Journal
    I'm going to get all the /. audiophiles offside with this, but whatever. Some of the stuff targeted at audio pimpers is truly ridiculous. See http://www.ilikejam.org/blog/audio/audiophile.html [ilikejam.org] For example:
    • The CD stop light pen: A giant disregard of optics leads people to believe that the probe light "goes somewhere in the CD" and needs to be trapped.
    • Audio-pimp cables: Yes, a good cable with decent materials and a well engineered, within spec connector will help with sound. Some of these audiophile connectors, however, provide no discernible or even measurable benefit. Certainly not for the cost required.
    • My favorite, the volume knob: A turned wooden knob. Ha ha, knob. This may be aesthetically pleasing to some, but to claim it has anything to do with audio quality is just wrong.

    These audiophile things offend me. I realize some people like to mess with their hardware to make it look pretty in their eyes (ricers, for example) but to claim such "behind-the-scenes" hardware mods do anything except drain the bank accounts of the ignorant is beyond the pale and simply a scam perpetrated by those who know better.

    • by ikkonoishi (674762) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @09:13PM (#24071315) Journal

      Thats nothing.
      http://www.amazon.com/Denon-AKDL1-Dedicated-Link-Cable/dp/B000I1X6PM/ [amazon.com]

      You save $49.75!!!

      Check out the user reviews.

      If I could use a rusty boxcutter to carve a new orifice in my body that's compatible with this link cable, I would already be doing it. I can just imagine the pure musical goodness that would flow through this cable into the wound and fill me completely -- like white, holy light. Holding this cable in my hands actually makes me feel that much closer to the Lord Jesus Christ. I only make $6.25/hr at Jack In The Box, but I saved up for three months so I could have this cable. It sits in a shrine I constructed next to my futon in Mother's basement.

      I only gave it four stars in my review because I can't find music that is worthy enough to flow through this utterly perfect interconnect.

  • by Deadstick (535032) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @05:23PM (#24069657)

    ...laser rot? You could buy a green Magic Marker for about $20, paint the edges of your CDs with it, and not worry about the laser rotting the bits off.

    Or the $400 Denon Cat5 cable only last week?

    And there was a $10 gadget heavily advertised in general-interest magazines in the Seventies, especially Sunday supplements, that was designed to LOOK as if you could pirate cable TV with it. You just hooked it up to the antenna terminals on your TV and presto, you would get "the same type of programs you'd get on cable" -- i.e., sports, movies, news -- but you wouldn't have to pay monthly bills "because you're not getting cable!" What it was, was a rabbit-ears antenna with a plastic disk in the middle shaped like a dish antenna.

    The prose in the ad was a masterpiece of subtlety. There was not a single misstatement of fact in it, but innumerable people read as a pitch for something like the pirate HBO setups that were in the news then.

    rj

  • kquade (Score:4, Funny)

    by kquade (1264236) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @05:48PM (#24069837)
    Q: What's the best tech scam you've heard of lately? A: Windows Vista.
  • Free project boxes! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @05:55PM (#24069887) Homepage Journal
    Have you requested your free converter box [dtv2009.gov] from Uncle Sam yet? I certainly have! And no, I don't receive over-the-air television ... I've got DirecTV and I'm quite happy with it. But with the coupons, I can get a couple of free boxes with power supplies and RF modulators in them ... quite nice for various geek projects! One of them will probably be fitted as a simple RF modulator appliance so my son can play video games on his TV which only has an antenna input. The other ... who knows? Who cares? It's free! (More accurately, it's already paid for; it doesn't even begin to make up for the thousands of dollars the government steals from me each year.)
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @06:17PM (#24070063)
    From the Seattle Times: Buying bottled water: Should you feel guilty -- or trendy? [nwsource.com]
    (and probably other places) ...

    Desalinated seawater from Hawaii, meanwhile, is being sold as "concentrated water" -- at $33.50 for a two-ounce bottle. Like any concentrated beverage, it is supposed to be diluted before drinking, except that in this case, that means adding water to ... water.

    [ Yes, people really are that stupid. ]

    • Dasani concentrate (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Animats (122034)

      There really is "Dasani concentrate". "Dasani" is purified tap water to which some minerals have been added. The mineral mix is sold to bottlers by the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta. This is the standard Coca-Cola business model; Coke works the same way.

  • by zogger (617870) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @07:26PM (#24070579) Homepage Journal

    Treating easily replicated digital bits exactly the same as tangible commodities, by (relatively) newly written laws and by industry practice, creating a purely artificial scarcity business model.

    Digital copying is a huge game changing tech advancement, and society has fallen flat on dealing with it. It is one of the few "star trek" level tech advances in the past few generations, yet we can see that business society has freaked out, it made a lot of the older practices virtually unneeded, and wants both to be able to use this tech freely for themselves, and also to be able to restrict it to others, entirely in their favor following the old and now obsolete so called "laws" of supply and demand as they might pertain to such products today. There is the potential for unlimited and "so close to free it doesn't matter" supply now, so they are trying to restrict it through DRM and laws and lawsuits such as they can still extract the same (or more) level of profits "per unit" as when back in the day they had to actually publish a dead trees book or stamp out a vinyl album, etc.

        What will we be seeing when we can do such replication as easy with tangible objects, if we can't even embrace and adapt to digital copies? This effort is not only ill conceived it should be *embarassing* to humanity in general, why it is even contemplated. We all should be enjoying the big freedom to freely share and share alike and have a huge expensive burden of transferring knowledge and culture from each of us and to all of us removed from our backs so we can concentrate on the next tech hurdles that could ultimately lead to humans being able to universally exist without a huge amount of drudgery and dangerous labor. Isn't that some sort of goal anyway?

      It won't happen all at once, but every time we lick a major tech problem, like we have with copies of this or that chunk of knowledge or culture, why should we -or even allow- go out of our way to create an additional problem just to perpetuate the old problem, which has been solved now? This is illogical and makes no long view historical sense. Unless we want the space aliens to start calling this the planet of the buggywhip traders (part of the embarrassing part)

    disclaimer: all I can do is not be hypocritical about it. I have a ton of digital stuff on the net over the past decade, if anyone thinks it might be useful (stop laffing!), take a copy share a copy, go for it. I work ag in meatspace, I encourage everyone who is so inclined to get seeds and "grow their own copies", use open pollinated so you can share copy making potential, go for it, feed yourself and the planet as cheaply and nutritiously as possible, leading to all free someday when the tech gets better. I seek no DRM restrictions or patents or any of that other nonsense on your ability or desire to produce your own food, even if that means I might theoretically make less, I'll be much happier once everyone is fed for cheap or free, and will go on to do something else. And that's the best I think I can do right now with voluntary sharing.

  • by blueharv (897279) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @08:38PM (#24071061)
    The Clarins Expertise 3P spray ranks up there in the top bracket on my list of tech scams. http://www.strangeharvest.com/mt/archive/the_harvest/spray_on_magnet_1.php [strangeharvest.com] Here's some of the juice on the spray... "An ultra-sheer screen mist containing a pioneering combination of plant extracts capable of protecting the skin from the accelerated-ageing effects of all indoor and outdoor air pollution but most significantly, the effects of Artificial Electromagnetic Waves." Apparently the British government didn't take too kindly to the marketing of the product.
  • by British (51765) <british1500@gmail.com> on Saturday July 05, 2008 @09:27PM (#24071407) Homepage Journal

    ...that you can 'subscribe to'(for money) to get links to tech stories earlier than the non-subscribers. Yes, paying for links to other stories, earlier than anyone else would see it.

    Like really, who the heck would pay for THAT? :)

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"

Working...