The TI-350



  • I recently posted about an early job working in a computer shop. My boss was little more than conman who would do anything to get sales out of the door and anything avoid ever having to take them back again.

    One of the things he did was sell computer systems by mail order, it was a simple enough system he had worked out with the computer review magazines (Computer Shopper, PC World etc..).

    Every month they would run a set of reviews based on a price point, they'd say "Gives us the best you can do for 699" and the company would have to come up with a system for review. Winning the review was simple, they'd mark you on build quality, specification and most importantly benchmarks. It was a 'bang per buck' test. Winning was the aim because people would then call up an order one of these systems.

    The best techies would spend a week building the review machine, picking a good case, the best branded components, making up ribbon cables to the exact length required so that they could be neatly folded around the inside of the case. The end result was always a work of art.

    This resulted in the company coming out on top in many of the reviews for the simple reason, the '699' review machine cost more than 699 to build.

    The computers supplied to the customer where built and boxed within an hour by minimum wage monkeys, people so stupid one of them managed to mutilate a mainboard by fitting incompatible memory, the module was a different physical form factor but when it didn't fit he just decided he needed to push harder.

    Now the boss couldn't get away with advertising one spec and selling another so he was just careful to construct the orders to be a little less specific. Support would often get calls from customers saying "This isn't the case in the review" and had to reply "Your order states 'ATX CASE WITH 300W PSU', thats what you got.". It was the same with hard disks, you saw the nice Seagate in the review but you got Excelstore, graphics, sound all the same. The review would use the nice branded components whilst the machine actually sold would match the spec, in terms of labels at least but be nowhere near as good as the review machine.

    The magazines knew this but nothing was ever said because the company also bought oodles of advertising space in the mags concerned.

    The obvious but unspoken agreement was that they worked together to rip people off then split the profits

    It was bad but one day things got a lot worst.

     

    It was Christmas, traditionally a good time of year for selling PC's and boy were they selling them, demand was actually outstripping supply and they couldn't get enough graphics cards to fill the orders. There were models of the same card selling this year, one called the TI-200 and one called the TI-500, basically the same card but better. Everyone wanted a 500 and we couldn't get nVidia to make chips fast enough, but we had plenty of 200.

    The boss was getting worried, people got sick of waiting and were starting to cancel orders, they wouldn't take a downgrade. He made promises of delivery for Christmas, even this didn't keep everyone on board because they didn't want a PC for Christmas or a refund in the new year, they wanted the PC or a refund now so they could go and buy one else where.

    And then the question came.

    "Do you think it would be possible to err, make a 200 show up as a 500?"

    And you see where this is going...

    "Well you could change the driver INF file and flash the video BIOS to say 500, but it wouldn't be a 500 and when people found out we'd all end up in court but yes it is possible."

    "Well could you ju..."

    "NO."

    Of course the idea was in his head now and he found someone who would.

     

    The Christmas orders shipped out on time.

    The new year support calls started to come in, diagnostic tools spotted the card right away, people who didn't run those noticed it didn't benchmark in their favourite game as high as it should have, others simply updated the drivers and armed with the correct inf file windows informed them they had suddenly received a downgrade.

    Support was told to tell customers "I'm sorry sir I don't know what happened there, we will change the card for you." and anyone who noticed and complained eventually got a 500. The boss would blame it on a 'faulty batch of cards' but obviously didn't do anything to track down which batch and dutifully recall the affected systems. If you didn't notice then you'd been had, paid for a higher spec graphics card you never got and lived with the cheaper alternative.

     


     



  • Between this and your other stories— play it right and you might be able to live off the court settlements for the next 5-10 years.



  •  or join his ex-box in stir, as he could, rightly, be convicted for knowingly participating in defrauding customers (not to mention the earlier description of the ham handed power plugs).



  • There used to be a shop I had the displeasure of dealing with once or twice that pulled the same chicanery, but on a smaller scale. They'd advertise the machine as having X, Y, and Z, and the demo machines would match (or exceed) that spec. But the machine they delivered only matched in the coarsest way possible. Save the CPU, everything would be substituted for an item of lower price. You'd be shown a system with an expensive Matrox video card but sold one with a Cirrus Logic card, etc. Your invoice would read "PCI accelerated graphics".

    They also disposed of your old system for a small fee; The owner made a pretty penny stripping out old Soundblaster Pros and 16's and reselling them in new machines, priced like an AWE32 card. 



  • Wow, I would have to be very desperate in order to keep working there under those conditions (assuming of course I did not report my boss to the proper authorities).  This ties back to one of my basic beliefs that knowledge is power, and since you should never let idiots have power you should never volunteer knowledge to them.  If you have more of these kinds of stories do share (assuming of course that the statute of limitations has expired).



  • @Anketam said:

    Wow, I would have to be very desperate in order to keep working there under those conditions (assuming of course I did not report my boss to the proper authorities).  This ties back to one of my basic beliefs that knowledge is power, and since you should never let idiots have power you should never volunteer knowledge to them.(...)

    Indeed. It seems, from this thread and the OP's previous one, that his ex-boss doesn't have much technical knowledge. If the employees just told him that things such as the video card trick weren't possible, the whole thing could be avoided.



  • I thought this was going to be a post about a calculator …


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Renan said:

    @Anketam said:

    Wow, I would have to be very desperate in order to keep working there under those conditions (assuming of course I did not report my boss to the proper authorities).  This ties back to one of my basic beliefs that knowledge is power, and since you should never let idiots have power you should never volunteer knowledge to them.(...)

    Indeed. It seems, from this thread and the OP's previous one, that his ex-boss doesn't have much technical knowledge. If the employees just told him that things such as the video card trick weren't possible, the whole thing could be avoided.

    So the fail is not knowing when to lie to an unscrupulous boss.



  • @Gurth said:

    I thought this was going to be a post about a calculator …
    I thought the exact same thing, I was expecting an image of an insanely overdone TI graphing calculator@PedanticCurmudgeon said:
    @Renan said:
    @Anketam said:
    Wow, I would have to be very desperate in order to keep working there under those conditions (assuming of course I did not report my boss to the proper authorities).  This ties back to one of my basic beliefs that knowledge is power, and since you should never let idiots have power you should never volunteer knowledge to them.(...)
    Indeed. It seems, from this thread and the OP's previous one, that his ex-boss doesn't have much technical knowledge. If the employees just told him that things such as the video card trick weren't possible, the whole thing could be avoided.
    So the fail is not knowing when to lie to an unscrupulous boss.
    When you put it that way, yes.  There is a reason why humans lie.  Truth is painful and quite troublesome, so sometimes it is best to avoid it.



  • Good if horrifying story.

    I am naive enough to think that people, even people who are trying to make money from me, will "do the right thing".

    @Renan said:

    This ties back to one of my basic beliefs that knowledge is power, and since you should never let idiots have power you should never volunteer knowledge to them.

    Never really thought of it that way but I think you have a point. Time to be a bit more selective about which information I volunteer....



  • @Anketam said:

    Truth is painful and quite troublesome, so sometimes it is best to avoid it.
     

    The truth is consistent with the entire universe. A lie can only be made consistent with that part of the universe that the liar knows about. The part of the universe that he doesn't know about will ultimately bite him on the ass. The bigger the lie, the bigger the bite.  It's called "karma".

     



  • So what if he lied and said it's not possible, then the boss asked someone else and they did it?



  • @AndyCanfield said:

    @Anketam said:
    Truth is painful and quite troublesome, so sometimes it is best to avoid it.
     

    The truth is consistent with the entire universe. A lie can only be made consistent with that part of the universe that the liar knows about. The part of the universe that he doesn't know about will ultimately bite him on the ass. The bigger the lie, the bigger the bite.  It's called "karma".

    Brings me to one of my personal quotes: "The most dangerous and powerful lie is the one closest to the truth."  That aside I did not mean to imply that lieing was better, it is just that telling the truth tends to cause an immediate form of hurt and people prefer to avoid hurt so they lie.  If your girl friend asks you the classic question: "Does this dress make me look fat?" and you tell her the truth "It is not the dress making you look fat" you are going to be in trouble.  I would not recommend lieing because delaying the pain of truth just makes it worse.



  • @lolwtf said:

    So what if he lied and said it's not possible, then the boss asked someone else and they did it?
     

    You do what every good sociopath does when caught-- frame it to look like its still someone else's fault.

    "If I your doctor tells you there's no medicine you can take to 'cure' the common cold, and then some random dude tells you he has a magic oil that will-- for a price-- what do you think of that other person? So go ahead, buy the video card snake oil."

    Best delivered AFTER the massive influx of support calls, RMA, bad press and lawsuits.



  • @lolwtf said:

    So what if he lied and said it's not possible, then the boss asked someone else and they did it?

    You phrase the lie as semi-truth: "it's not something I can do" or "I don't know how to do it."

    Then when someone else does it, you're in the clear.



  • @Gurth said:

    I thought this was going to be a post about a calculator …

    +1!



  • @Cassidy said:

    @lolwtf said:

    So what if he lied and said it's not possible, then the boss asked someone else and they did it?

    You phrase the lie as semi-truth: "it's not something I can do" or "I don't know how to do it."

    Then when someone else does it, you're in the clear.

    Then you just look incompetent...



  • @ekolis said:

    @Cassidy said:

    @lolwtf said:

    So what if he lied and said it's not possible, then the boss asked someone else and they did it?

    You phrase the lie as semi-truth: "it's not something I can do" or "I don't know how to do it."

    Then when someone else does it, you're in the clear.

    Then you just look incompetent...

    It is a better choice than criminal



  • @ekolis said:

    Then you just look incompetent...

    Correct - I don't claim to be competant at everything. But in the hands of that boss, it sounds like appearing unable than unwilling was the more diplomatic choice.



  • @Cassidy said:

    @ekolis said:

    Then you just look incompetent...

    Correct - I don't claim to be competant at everything. But in the hands of that boss, it sounds like appearing unable than unwilling was the more diplomatic choice.

    And I have several intelligent coworkers who intentionally act dumb/incompetent to avoid hard work.

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