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Tech on the Cheap? 100

andyatkinson asks: "A technology enthusiast always has more products and services to buy than he or she can possibly afford. A variety of methods will help you save money: discount, deal, and coupon websites, price comparisons, eBay, and rebates. How do you save bucks on tech?"
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Tech on the Cheap?

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  • OSS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AsnFkr ( 545033 ) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @04:49PM (#15029425) Homepage Journal
    Bring on the free software people.
    • The best open source of free software? The pirate bay. Closely followed by iso hunt.

      But, fear not my dear Stallman! Be assured that Debian dot org is also on my list. It rates right after eMule, Kazaa, IRC, usenet, most abandonware sites, MAME stuff, any shareware I can dig up, and asking my neighbor to borrow his office disc.
  • by Rimbo ( 139781 ) <rimbosity@sbc g l o b a l . n et> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @04:50PM (#15029438) Homepage Journal
    Because you can always get more for less if you wait 6 months.

    6 months from now, repeat.
    • Indeed. And remember, if you'll wait for an upcoming IT release now, you're gonna wait every time (and consequently never buy anything). That's a good way to save cash..
      • Then you never ever fulfill you geeky tech need, endless painful frustration. The only effective method I have found is restricting myself to new tech purchases on my birthday and christmas, twice a year ain't so bad and it gives me plenty of time for price and product research.
    • by PFI_Optix ( 936301 ) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @05:15PM (#15029682) Journal
      As far as my PC's hardware, I stay right in the middle of the price curve. A friend of mine calls it the "75% mark," meaning that you get about 75% the performance of top-of-the-line for around 50% the price. That's especially true in the processor and video card markets, which account for the the costliest and most frequent upgrades.

      As networking goes, I tend to avoid eBay for most of it. A lot of tech sites have forums with a for sale/for trade section where you can find what you're looking for at a much better price than eBay. I trade a lot of my old parts that I don't need for old parts that I do need.
    • Resign yourself to the inevitability that whatever you buy that's 'cutting edge' will only be so for a matter of months. Spend accordingly.

      My father bought a Treo 650 about six months ago for around $500. After seeing/using his I decided to give the pda/phone combo a try. But instead of dropping the cash on a Treo 650, I bought the "old" 600 model on eBay for about $150.

      It may not be cutting edge, but it still has all the basic features I need. In another year or so I'm sure I'll be able to upgrade to t
      • My father bought a Treo 650 about six months ago for around $500. After seeing/using his I decided to give the pda/phone combo a try. But instead of dropping the cash on a Treo 650, I bought the "old" 600 model on eBay for about $150.

        Yes, the 600 will do most of what you need. But the display on the 650 is spectacular in comparison, and the camera is far better. Also, the 650 has some things built in (like Versamail) that you'd need to pay extra for if you need them on the 600.

        Of course, this points out a
  • Alot of large companies have surplus sales of oldish (2-3 years) equipment. This is how I have acquired the lab that I have.
    • If you can find such sales, they're great. Of course, I never can...if they're listed, I've never seen them even when I lived in a major metro area.
      • Re:Surplus Stores (Score:5, Informative)

        by shashi ( 56458 ) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @05:34PM (#15029828) Homepage

        I've been in the refurb business and have some experience with these surplus sales. There's a couple reasons why you don't hear about them.

        One, most of this surplus sales are auctions meant for volume buyers. They don't advertise them in consumer channels because they don't want to sell 1 computer to an individual, they want to sell 2000 computers to a guy with forklift and a truck that will haul them away. When companies/schools decommission large amounts of technology, they want to get them out of the way as quickly as possible. Being able to sell some of it to recoup their losses on the way to the dumpster is just a small bonus to them. They're not in the business of opening a flea market to the public.

        Two, a lot of the auctioneers and the big buyers play "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" games. Pretty much to hear about the good auctions you get the information directly from the auctioneer that was hired to conduct the sale. To do that you need to be on their list to begin with, and it helps if you've been a good customer to them for a while (i.e., pay for your lots on time and get them off-site quick). Of course this creates a kind of chicken-and-egg scenario, so if you want to do this for a living it helps to make some contacts up front with other buyers and find out from them where to go. Depending on the area, once you get in good with two or three of the biggest auction houses you'll get info on most of the auctions in the area.

        Auctioneers are mostly regional (there are a few national clearing houses but prices tend to be high because of the visibility), but if you're local to Texas here's a couple I suggest (that actually have web sites, a lot of them don't):

        Rene Bates Auctioneers, Inc. []
        Lemons Auctioneers []

        • I don't know about all schools, but mine tends to just throw them away... don't know why. The company my father works for does the same thing with lab equipment (not necissarily that old, and most still functional).

          The ones the school throws away are generally very old machines that after being good machines got swapped out of labs and into teacher's rooms where they are hardly used (and are barely usable due to the software they try to cram on them). The electronics teacher tends to try to salvage them e
        • Re:Surplus Stores (Score:3, Insightful)

          by M-G ( 44998 )
          One, most of this surplus sales are auctions meant for volume buyers. They don't advertise them in consumer channels because they don't want to sell 1 computer to an individual, they want to sell 2000 computers to a guy with forklift and a truck that will haul them away. When companies/schools decommission large amounts of technology, they want to get them out of the way as quickly as possible.

          They also frequently want to sell them to a company that will do data destruction, etc. for them, so they don't hav
    • The question then becomes, "How does one find such surplus sales?"

      I mean, hell, I could use other surplus equipment too, not just tech. If an office is unloading a bunch of swivel chairs or other office furniture, I'd take a couple.

      But where would I find such sales?

    • Universities, too.

  • by geoffspear ( 692508 ) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @04:52PM (#15029459) Homepage
    I just get really dumb stories posted on Slashdot that link to my own blog, then use the ad revenue to buy more stuff.

    Oh wait, that's not me that I'm thinking of.

    • heh, out of curiosity is there any ad revenue when I don't see the ads?

      Sure, I suppose I'm a hit, but does that matter anymore?

    • Oh please. I just checked AdSense, $1.96 today. Yippee. AdSense revenue pays my hosting fees and helps "legitimize" the hours I spend researching and writing articles. Since real, actual earnings information is hard to come by, the only way to know the potential is to run it yourself (unless you can point me to some empirical statistics). Every webmaster knows that Slashdot visitors don't click ads.
  • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @04:54PM (#15029470) Journal
    The latest and greatest is seldom so great. Now is a great time to buy a GameCube or PS2 if you don't have one. All the good games have been made and are available for bargain basement rates. Also, at my home we have several old Macs that we use for the wife & kids. We find them more than adequate for our purposes. I guess it all comes down to learning to be content with getting things later rather than sooner.
    • This is so very true.

      Remember when people were paying hundreds of dollars for megapixel cameras? or $500 for 15" LCD displays?

      The same items do the same things today, only they are 1/10 the price.

      My only problem now is how to motivate. I told myself I'd get a 17" display when they hit $200, then 19", now I'm saying (without believing it) 21"/$200. I'll probably buy whatever I can get for $200 when my current "good" monitor dies. I hope it is within 10 years or I'll lose credibility.

      • I kept saying the same thing, until my wife wouldn't let me get away with it anymore.

        I finally settled on a 19" from Samsung which has been great (of course now that I use a PowerBook for work I'm getting spoiled by the 'widescreen' aspect ratio, but thats a different story).

        two things that finally pushed me over the edge to get a Flat Planel monitor:

        1) It helped me reclaim desk space from my old 19" monitor.
        2) the 19" flat panels are 19" viewable, vs. the CRTs which are an inch or two less on the diagnal t
      • You are actually winning. What will you be able to do different with a new monitor?? Reclaim desk space - for what? So you can have more rubbish on the desk. More screen real estate - believe me, you don't even notice it when you are actually working/playing games.
        • You don't notice a larger screen when you are playing games? Are you still playing MUDs and text adventures, hell even there you would probably notice the larger screen. But I notice the difference in size while playing games, I play on a 17" at work for maybe 30 minutes a day and a 19" at home, there is a huge difference. As for working, if you are writing code the more you can see at a time the better, whether you are doing research for something and have the research so that you can view it or if you ar
    • Is probably 2-3 years in to a console's life not at the last year imo. I bought my ps2 for $199 (now four years later all you'd save is $50) probably a year and a half or less after release. If one buys the games at the end of a games lifetime they lose many years worth of new games.

  • You can get $20 from taking Chase Bank's online survey - haven't you been getting their emails?
  • Bad Math (Score:5, Insightful)

    by krgallagher ( 743575 ) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @04:59PM (#15029520) Homepage
    I like this part of the article about using ebay:
    "In one 9 month period, I bought and sold 5 laptops, taking a loss of around $200-300 per sale, before settling on one to keep. This is a bit extreme and certainly involved a fair amount of hassle, but on the plus side, I was able to try out several brand new laptops on my own terms, and sell them for a relatively minimal loss. After about 9 months, I still had a new laptop for around US $1500 (as opposed to leasing laptops)."

    Given the conservative estimate of $200 loss per purchase, that would $1000. That would mean that at the end he either had a $1500 laptop for $2500, or else he bought a $500 laptop for $1500. Either way this is not "Tech on the Cheap."

    • He leased it. There's a huge cost savings when you lease. You see, with a lease you only pay for the part of... oh, wait.
    • ...good correction. My point was that I could sell each laptop for what I considered to be a minimal loss, by selling on eBay. That way the risk of "being satisfied" with a $1500 purchase (beyond the return period) was reduced. However, with each subsequent purchase, the loss column grew to where it would have been better having not done it at all, or as you indicated, I essentially bought a $1500 laptop for $2500. I'll revise the article to make my point more clear.
      • it still doesnt make any sense..what the hell does the risk of 'being satisified' mean? Why not research and try out laptops first, instead of trying to randomly pull one out of the air. Your point essential is: "Im not scared to buy cause I can sell for a small loss on ebay." Wow. Im sorry, paying $200 to try out a laptop is a little much imho.
    • Without selling at the end he would have been left with a 9 month old laptop, which would have depreciated (though probably not by $900)
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @05:00PM (#15029533)
    Don't buy into a new technology for the first couple of years unless it is immediately apparent the item will repay your money over a 1-year time frame. Generally it takes 3 years for the rapid advancement period to come to a conclusion and product lines to stabilize. You will also avoid a lot of fads this way.

    Avoid any proprietary formats - MD Disc, Blu-Ray, DVD-Audio. These never work out in the long run.

    • Avoid any proprietary formats - MD Disc, Blu-Ray, DVD-Audio. These never work out in the long run.

      Of course, next year's format never works out in the long run ?!?!?! Minidisc came from the chocolate starfish that is Sony, no surprise there. DVD-Audio suffered from requiring a unique (and extremely rare) playback device, it's far easier to release a video DVD with high-bitrate AC3-encoded audio (or DTS if you're "that kinda" special).

      The very concept of disc storage is getting old already. Many people wo
  • What (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 ) * on Thursday March 30, 2006 @05:03PM (#15029562) Journal
    A technology enthusiast always has more products and services to buy than he or she can possibly afford

    I don't have this problem. I'm not rich either. Is "tech enthusiast" some new code word for "sucker consumer"?
    • Don't buy it if you don't need it. I bought a PDA 5 years ago, it just sits there. I won't make that mistake again. I don't need a video IPod, dvd video camera, pvr, etc.
      • Hip Gizmo's aren't the only things tech enthusiasts aren't into. And depending on how broke someone is there can be quite a few things enthusiasts would want.
  • Cheap Tech (Score:4, Informative)

    by mabu ( 178417 ) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @05:05PM (#15029580)
    Rule number one: Never buy the "top-of-the-line" product. Always purchase one or two notches below it. There's usually a major price point between the fastest CPU and those below it and the difference in performance is marginal.

    If you're shopping for laptops, check the chain stores like CompUSA and others. Sometimes they have special versions of manufacturer's products that are better-equipped than more widely-available items at greater cost.

    EBay is definitely invaluable. Like others have said, if a new generation product comes out, like a RAID array or new server technology, you can often pick up the previous generation's products at a fraction of the cost. When Compaq discontinued one line of high performance servers, the market became flooded with these units for pennies-on-the-dollar.

    For other kinds of tech, like cell phones, look into the pre-paid plans as an alternative to the standard monthly contracts. It is true, you may not find the Treo 650 on a discounted prepaid plan like you would if you committed to a two-year contract, but you can often get great phones at the same price people pay who commit to multi-year contracts when you sign up for the pay-as-you-go plans. This is a great deal that is geared normally for kids or people with bad credit, but ends up being a better deal for others who want to avoid getting locked into a particular calling plan that costs them more money later.

    • I call BS on the phone plan advice. I know several friends who literally throw their money away because they have bad credit and are required to use Pay-as-you-go plans (from various carriers). They spend $10 to get 50 minutes of air time, and end up using that up in a week due to "hidden costs" and fees to connect. On the other hand, I have a year-contract $29.99/mo plan that gets me 300 minutes per month plus free nights and weekends. And I don't have to constantly tell my friends to wrap it up so I don't
  • by flipper65 ( 794710 ) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @05:18PM (#15029706) Homepage
    I have a great relationship with mine. They get off lease equipment from Dell and others which means that a lot of gear is two to five years old, but, for example, we just purchased some blade servers at 80% off of their new price. Make sure to find a good one and stick with them. My rep gives me calls when good deals come in and we get first whack. Not to advertise but my remarketer is Stallard Technologies [].
  • Right now all the machines I own have come from various family members and friends who've upgraded – e.g., all three of the laptops I own (GRiD 1720 286, now dead; Micron XPE, Pentium-133, right now dual-booting Linux and OpenBSD; and a Dell Latitude CP, Pentium-233, my main laptop that I'm typing this on now) – or auctions (a Dell Optiplex GX100 with a Celeron-700, $55 on eBay; a Compaq DeskPro EP6000 with Pentium III-650, also $55 on eBay; and probably my favorite machine, a top-of-the-line HP
  • There's no need to stay cutting edge unless you're really into the latest games or you feel a need to keep ahead of everyone else. I was that way once, but a period of extended unemployment caused me to reevaluate that attitude. :-)

    I've actually been very happy using older PCs at home for years. Not only do I purchase most of my PCs and related peripherals on eBay, but I have a whole series of other sites I hit on a regular basis for various techie supplies and misc items (,,,, etc.).

    My Palm PDAs are all older (two Palm m105's, one IIIc) with the exception of my Fossil/Abacus WristPDA (which at US$49 on eBay was the least expensive of the lot). My digital camera is still a refurb Casio QV3000EX I picked up on uBid five years ago for half its retail price. The last piece of hardware I purchased was a new 16-port 10BaseT/100BaseTX auto-sensing switch for US$22 at CompGeeks. It seems to work fine. The second-to-last one was a refurb 8-port Belkin OmniView Pro KVM (F1D108-OSD-B) which I absolutely love. Cost: US$70 including 8 new 10-foot cables from a nice guy on eBay.

    If you do the research, learn what what you actually need instead of what you want, and spend a little bit of time looking around, you can find a lot of good stuff for very little money.
  • I buy parts based on bang-for-the-buck factor. Price to preformance is what matters to me. Then I overclock it. I also dont buy "cheap" parts in order to save money. Because replacement costs, downtime, ect, means "cheap" parts aren't cheap.
  • And prioritise the spending on the needs, and only pick up the wants when they're a good deal.

    And paying of your credit card bill is a great need than any of your wants.

    For many things waiting just a few months can make something you want more affordable. This especially applies to computer hardware, but also applies to DVDs, CDs, as well. Patience has its rewards.

    Don't underestimate missing out on your typical upgrade cycle and just sticking with what you have. Oh, and know your product release cycles by r
    • In addition to the Parent Post, here's a few comments of my own:

      Patience definitely has it's rewards. If you don't absolutely NEED the latest and greatest, wait. Saving today leads to greater consumption tomorrow, or in other words, saving today allows you to purchase the same thing for less money later. Which of course, leaves more liquid cash in your hands to purchase more things. The point is, don't be a bleeder out on the bleeding edge. It's just not worth it. The only exception to this rule is wh
  • Don't go to a retailer and buy a pre-built computer. Buy parts and put your own together. That way, you have exactly what you need, not what somebody else thinks you need. You also don't have to pay for a lot of software you'll never use. If, like me, you're not good with hardware, find a friend who is and trade favors.
    • This is great advice - and not just because you get more for your money, but you can decide exactly which parts to splurge on, and which parts you can live with a lower end version of. And unlike a prebuilt system, you don't just get to choose which part, but which vendor for the part.

      With things like graphics card, an otherwise identical card from two different manufacturers can differ in price by as much as 15-20%, plus the savings you get from not having the system builder's markup on top of that makes i
    • Don't go to a retailer and buy a pre-built computer. Buy parts and put your own together.

      This is good advice, but isn't a global truth.

      If you attempt to go for a low-end computer, you will have a hard sell as the retailers can order in bulk and assemble in bulk. Even if you match their monetary amounts, it generally takes a few more hours to setup.

      For medium strength computers, you might get a better deal. It vaires based on what you can get your hands on.

      For high strength computers... you'd be taking a

      • For high strength computers... you'd be taking a risk. While a system purchased from Dell/Alienware is fully protected if a power supply goes pop, the manufacturer's warrenty generally do not include damage from a power-surge because of that fault. (You could go for a high-end, but even the most reliable will encounter that random fault.)

        Not once have I ever encountered a mfg who won't honor a warranty unless you have abused or neglected a piece of hardware.

      • I'm also not counting the pre-installed copies of WXP that are cheaper than normal market value (unless you want to pirate, but that's illegal.)

        Why would I be putting WinXP on a new computer when I don't use it now? I'd either transfer my current HD, or set up a new one with Linux. YMMV, of course, and probably does.

  • I just don't pay for it!
    • Five finger discounts are always nice, but I'll assume that you're talking about donated things. ;)
      Example: A friend of mine had a computer that just quit working one day, and gave it to me. The motherboard was shot, but there was some RAM, a CD burner, DVD reader, 80GB HD, and 20GB HD in it.
      Free upgrades, plus no police or angry storeowners!
  • Be sure to check out both the Partners and MSDN programs. Partners gets you one license for server software and 10 licenses for XP and Office for about $300/year. MSDN come in a bunch of different flavors and gets you dev tools and eval OS's at reasonable prices.
  • One option is to find a store that sells refurbished computers or a nice sized ma & pop shop. many items that are marked as refurbished are actually end of line, open box, demo models, and among that sort of line up. You can usually save yourself a bit of money going with a machine that is marked as refurbished but are still widely being sold as brand new (you also usually get better service, but that is dependent on the store). I've even seen some of the latest machines like AMD X2's in the refurbished
  • by Zadaz ( 950521 )
    When I want to buy something I can't afford I get better paying work so I don't have to stand in line at Fry's with the the rest of you penny pinching open source hippies.

    Maybe you have time to waste salvaging some POS out of the dumpster, but I spend that time making more money to buy things.
    • Ah, yes, but not only is old hardware fun, but it uses less energy in many cases. I can't justify working two months of overtime to buy a PC to replace one I can't use with WinXP, when I can wipe it, install Fedora Core 5 and get back to work. Plus, I can save 15 minutes a day since I won't have to reboot it every day to keep it working. :)
      • Heh, you seem to think that I work more than 20 hours a week and lack any original thought re: Operating Systems.


        I'm not saying that dinking around with [whatever] can't be a lot of fun, but that's not the question here, it's about technology, and since we can assume that the original poser isn't asking about pulleys and levers, then I have to say the best way to acquire new technology is make more money.

        Or are you guys out there all just happy taking what's in your paycheck?
    • I didnt know mcdonalds paid you that much... cause being some punkass that is probably the only job you can get.
  • Yard sales are your friend! There is a rule though: You must go early, and you must go every weekend. Alright, that's two rules, but what the heck. My best deal ever was a set of bose speakers and stands with an Ebay-value of around $700 that I paid $100 for.(these are not mine, just proof of concept->) EQ-and-Stands-Black_W0QQitemZ9700129897QQcategoryZ 61374QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem []

    Now that doesn't happen all the time, but there are enough good deals to m

  • Hi,

    it all depends what you mean by tech. Most stuff on think geek etc is crap, don't buy it. Don't play games unless you like upgrading every year. When you do buy, by good gear that'll last.

    My current rig is 1.4 P4, 678MB, 60gb. I run Deb so my graphics are 2d only. Man I wish the 3D OpenHardware was making more progress. I have a FPGA on a PCI slot for emulation etc.

    My last expensive purchase was 1.6tb raid array
    • Don't play games unless you like upgrading every year.

      I used to do a rebuild every two years to keep up with gaming and other software demands. That meant replacing my motherboard, cpu, video card, and (when necessary) RAM. The last time I did that was in 2002. I've averaged maybe $300 a year on non-storage upgrades since and have no intention of spending any money on hardware this year in anticipation of a legacy-free upgrade in late 2007.
  • I've had good luck buying refurbished machines from, and also got a great deal on my laptop (eMachines AMD 2800+, $600) about 15 mos. ago from bestbuy (when eMachines was about to get bought by Gateway).
    I figure with refurbs they've already failed and been fixed once, so I'm ahead of the game.
    If you're not too picky and can accept the "-1" generation, closeouts work well too.
  • What ever happened to good, old-fashioned, DIY geek systems. Honestly, you can get old computers for almost free, many of which still have good components in them. I have a freind that took a couple of old, nearly worthless servers and built a couple new ones using nothing but old parts. Install some open source software, and you've got yourself a decent machine that can handle most common tasks. This method also has the additional benefit that you can spend quality time messing around with hardware and
    • Sometimes that doesn't work so well.
      I just put together a Hylafax fax server using 2 ISA jumpered modems, recycled HD's (4 & 6 GB),MoBo(533Mhz), etc.
      Worked nice yesterday after finally finding & getting the 2 hardware modems in. Unfortunately I came in today to one of the HD's slamming the read arm against the stop trying to thermal calibrate ... and making this horrid scratching sound every once in a while.
      So, I love recycled hardware, but some days it doesn't pay to dig through the scrap bin...
  • by Jerf ( 17166 )
    Want less.

    (Normally I'm the first to hate this sort of snotty answer, but in the case of "wanting more than you can afford", it's a necessary, if perhaps not sufficient, part of the solution.)

    (I suppose, technically, "make more money" also works.)
  • I live in México ! I have a decent job, and decent wage, but with a family, you simply cannot afford to spend money on tech. I live with the urge for a good cell phone, a nice USB memory, a good DVD burner, a better CPU, any kind of digital camera, but the money keeps going with what really matters, my family :-) That's the kind of living of almost any person here, my wage is in statistics above the 95% of the population, and still can't afford those tech beauties :) third word rules !
  • What you can do to get your rebate (Warning, some of this exposes ugly behavior.):

    Use the "F" word: Fraud. Every time an employee quits, it costs the rebate company a lot to hire and train someone new. Minimum wage people don't like to think they are helping break the law. Ask the employee how she or he can justify working for a dishonest company. Tell the employee he or she has the worst job in the world.

    Call the manager of the store where you bought the rebate item. Use the "F" word again. Managers have a special telephone number. The rebate company will listen to them. Store managers don't like the word fraud applied to their store; that could cost them hundreds of thousands, if the word gets around. If you don't get satisfaction from the store manager, get his or her name and call the store's main office. The people who work in main offices don't want fraud calls; and they definitely don't like fraud calls in which the name of a store manager is mentioned.

    Never let rebate companies steal from you. If you ever accept that once, they will know they can do it again. Remember, there are a limited number of rebate companies, and they keep databases on those who apply for rebates. Don't allow yourself to become a known easy target.

    Tell the rebate company that you will file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and your state's consumer fraud department and do it. Tell the store that sold the rebate item the same thing. See the links for filing below.

    Apparently all or almost all rebate companies are involved in fraud either for their own profit, or pre-arranged with manufacturers. They try to concentrate on the customers that will accept excuses. The stores will tell you they know nothing about the fraud, but that is not true; they know very well.

    Typical experience with a rebate company:

    I'm not the only one to have a huge amount of trouble with Parago; read this amazingly ugly April 22, 2005 story: [] Parago Rebate Gripes Keep on Coming []. Here is Parago's Better Business Bureau information: Parago BBB info []. My experience with Parago is that the company will try many, many tricks to get you to stop expecting a rebate. Other people have reported that Parago will ask a caller to fax some information, and then give an invalid fax number. Most people don't have a fax machine, and going to an office supply store and paying to fax something discourages them. Parago changes phone numbers frequently, apparently; on March 13, 2006, someone said that (888) 641-4109 is a good number at which to call Parago. (Parago operates Rebates HQ []. )

    This story by Jonathan Kamens at MIT about Parago contains many Parago tricks that are very familiar to me: My "Staples Easy Rebates" Horror Story []. Here are the tricks Parago used to avoid paying:
    1. First, Parago acknowledged that the company had received the correct rebate information. At this point, everything is fine.
    2. After 23 days, on March 25, Parago said in an online notice that the check had been sent and had been cashed. It was not sent. Mr. Kamens had asked that the money be directly deposited electronically to his checking account, so a notice about a check was complete fiction. Obviously no one checked to see if their excuse was plausible.
    3. Next, Mr. Kamen received a message saying that he had asked to receive a "bonus item" and a "Pinnacle Instant Album" instead of $10, and that these had already been shipped on March 16. The web page customers can use to check the status of their rebates still said that he had received and cashed a check. Again, Parago did not check to see if their statements were plausible.
    • Good post, but you missed a very important point if you get ripped off by rebate:

      Complain to your state Attorney General. Ohio's has a website to submit claims (making it rather easy. Not much in correspondence, but after about 2 weeks I suddenly got a rebate check in the mail), and I'm sure others do, too. Few companies are willing to risk the wrath of any state AGs, especially not over <$100
  • 1. Buy second-hand/refurb
    I've done this for years with computers. The Mac Mini I bought last year was my first new computer in 10 years. In 2001, I was using a Mac IIci (yes, a 1990 design). Good thing Apple builds their computers to last.
    2. Buy good stuff
    When you do buy equipment, don't skimp. If it's well-built, it'll last. 2 of the loudspeakers in my HT setup are 18 years old - they still sound good, so why replace them?
    3. Prioritize
    To avoid spending more than you can afford, try to set a budget and stic
  • Buy assets, not liabilities.

    Definition: If you buy something that's not making you money or saving you money, it's a liability.

Marriage is the sole cause of divorce.