Anti-Virus Software: Needed but…

… the pricing on this stuff is nuttier than a Brazil Nut grove! Yes I have talked about Anti-Virus software being a Scam before, but hey, I get to rant sometimes about the same things (I’m old, respect your elders).

For now I am speaking of the mainstream Anti-virus folks (not the AVG and Malwarebytes who offer free stuff which works fine (heck even Microsoft’s free security essentials is pretty good these days)), no I speak of Norton and McAfee and their insane pricing methodologies which force me to go to a store and buy NEW copies of their software instead of making a renewal as cheap (if not cheaper) than it is to buy something new.

Before you think I am saying you don’t need this software, that is definitely NOT what I am saying, you need this software, so get some, or you are asking for trouble.

OK, just so I don’t have someone claiming I told them not to get anti-virus software (oh and all you Mac snobs, don’t be thinking you are somehow exempt from Viruses, they are already here for you too), but I grow weary of the game that is played for Anti-virus software on the PCs.

Example: you buy a new computer, and it comes with a 30-day trial of either Norton or McAfee (depending on who you buy the system from). OK, that is good, your new PC is protected for the first 30 days you own it, however, pretty much every day your PC now flashes up a “You Should Renew Your Anti-Virus Software” advertisement. You decide that yes it would be a good idea to do that, so you click and see that to “renew” your software will cost $59 (for one machine). This seems a little expensive, so you go to Staples, or better still to the Dell On Line store and you see you can buy a 3-Computer license (so software for 3 of your home computers), for $69 (or less), you scratch your head and wonder why these companies price this way?

Why? My guess is they catch many folks, who simply don’t want to be bothered to look around and check the prices of software, so they simply “renew” their anti-virus that way. This has been going on for more than 10 years, so it must be working, or the Anti-virus biggies would have changed their ways, but no, I saw this again Sunday morning, so nothing much is changing.

Shop around for software prices. I found a McAfee 3 computer license on sale at the Dell Store (on “Boxing Day”) for $12.99, so yes this stuff does get steeply discounted as well. Shop around and don’t get your pocket picked by the big software companies.



Dell does Finally Deliver

My saga with Dell seems to have come to an end, with the delivery of the system (a month after I ordered it, and a different configuration) and now Dell have actually agreed and refunded me $160. I do seem to have a computer (although I haven’t booted it up yet) but throughout this I have been hounded by the relentless Dell sales support hot line (which I guess is somewhere in India or nearby).

In the past month I have received countless e-mails from the Sales Support Folks about the initial system I ordered, and why it wasn’t going to be delivered (no reason was really given, even though my guess of no hard disks available is still valid in my estimation). I have also been in an e-mail discussion about how if I ordered on Cyber Monday the same system was $160 cheaper, and a final e-mail discussion about how my order was being changed because my initial order wasn’t going to be delivered on time (or even late from what I was being told).

Am I happy? Due to the relentless calling, and e-mails I don’t think I’d say happy would describe me, satisfied with the conclusion is a better description of how I feel, but I now must deal with the voice mails (at two separate phones (work and home) and all the e-mails about the refund).

As Mrs. C8j points out there is a thin line between good customer service and harassment, I suspect that I may have ruffled a few feathers with my complaints, so maybe I deserve the “full court press” from the Dell Support Center, but I hope these will abate soon. My guess is they will also start hounding me to fill in a customer satisfaction survey, and if that happens, I suspect my Christmas may be spent in further discussion with these folks.

All of this for a $400 lap top? Guess I should have just walked down to the Future Shop?


Be Relentless

As I have said previously the answer is always No unless you ask, and it continues to be true when you are dealing with customer service or sales people.

At the start of the week I ranted about Cyber Monday? Better watch out, better not cry where I outlined how I have purchased a system from Dell, that is being held up in production (I think it is due to hard disk shortages, but no one has confirmed that for me).

Monday afternoon a friend sent me a link to the Dell Cyber-Monday page where I found the exact system I had ordered for $160 less! Needless to say I was livid seeing that not only was I being abused by not having a system (that I had not paid for yet) it was now on sale for 25% less, and was going to be delivered a week before the date I was given for my system.

Taking my own advice I sent yet another e-mail to the Dell Service Center complaining about the fact that my system’s delivery date is still showing up as November 18th on their system and I then added in my complete disgust with the fact that if I had waited to order on Cyber Monday I would have saved $160 and the delivery date for the system would have been earlier than the computer I ordered. To be accurate in my rant I included the link to the system on sale which matched the system I ordered, and I finally added, I could simply cancel my order and re-order and save myself time and money.

Yesterday yet another response appeared in my INBOX and sure enough Dell had read my e-mail, and started off by apologizing for the delay in delivery, but then they astounded me by lowering the price of my ordered system by $160 however they then wrote the delivery date is still mid-December. I was delighted and surprised by this response, but it does seem to reinforce that no matter how unlikely you think a request is to be honored, you still need to ask and let the Service Agent or Salesperson say no, you can set your mind at ease knowing at least you asked.

I am still in the same position I was previously in that I don’t have a system or a delivery date, but now it is 25% cheaper, so I guess I am a little happier with the Dell response.



Cyber Monday? Better Watch out, better not cry…

Cyber Monday is here again, and I am sure there have been folks already attempting to get that iPad 2 for $41 less, or some of the other spectacularly ordinary deals that are being offered. I am always astounded at what folks will do to try to save a few bucks, but this year I actually have a story to tell, that you might want to heed.

As I have said there are some problems in the high technology component delivery chain (i.e. the floods in Thailand have caused a great deal of disarray in the delivery of hard disk drives) , so you should be careful when buying computers on-line that the system can be delivered in time for the holidays.

How do I know this? Two weeks ago I ordered a pretty generic lap top computer for my daughter for Christmas (to replace the “piece de merde” HP laptop that she currently has) from Dell (I have had no issues with Dell previously and I have ordered 4 or 5 systems on line from them). Looked like an OK price, nothing too exciting, pretty generic, so I put the order in. The Dell order process spit out two e-mails, the first one confirming that my system was ordered, and then another one that said that the system was “In Production” and that it’s delivery date was estimated to be November 18th (yeh, the one that just passed).

I was skeptical about this delivery date, but I waited until the Monday afterward, and I asked, “Where is my damn computer” in an e-mail. I got back a “canned” response saying there were issues with some systems, there is a high demand, and “blah, blah, blah…”, however, I did receive a new delivery date, DECEMBER 18th (yes a MONTH after my initial delivery date).

The next e-mail I sent to the Dell delivery support folks ¬†was much more harshly worded (but polite none the less) accusing their system of lying about delivery dates and asking why the system was so badly delayed? I received a fairly generic response with a “canned” apology and no answer as to why the system was delayed. I sent yet another e-mail asking specifically does this have to do with a hard disk drive shortage, and was not directly answered again, however it also included another poorly worded apology.

Dell has not charged me for the system yet, so I am not quite livid about this shoddy customer service, but my system still shows up as being “In Production” but the on-line system also claims that the estimated delivery date is November 18th ! Somehow I don’t think they can accomplish that date, but hopefully they can hit their December date.

I would be very leery of ordering any computer on-line this holiday season (but your mileage may vary, and it may all be fine).


Computers and the Holidays

Were you thinking that someone deserved a computer this holiday season? You might want to watch the prices because thanks to the horrible flooding in Thailand, most of the hard disk drive plants are now not functioning (and aren’t likely to reopen any time soon).

What does this mean? Well if you wanted to buy a replacement 500GB drive for a desktop system last month it cost about $60 at a good on-line vendor, right now, it is at least $110 and could be going much higher very soon (is what I have heard from my distributors).

The obvious ramifications are if you want to buy an External Hard Disk (for backing up all that important data, and remember that is important to do), or a replacement drive for your system this is going to cost a lot more. Will this impact the price of off the shelf systems and such? That one I am not so sure about, I have not seen a noticeable price increase yet, it may be that manufacturers may absorb this cost for a while, hoping supplies can be restored quicker than hoped.

It is interesting that with the globalization of component production, that a major natural disaster can cause this kind of supply interruption. There may be other hard disk drive plants elsewhere in the world, but when the major center is affected, these kind of problems can arise.

Another interesting point is that the prices of Solid State Drives SSDs are not going up in price, and given these devices are much less prone to the issues that hard drives have (i.e. they have no moving parts, they are just memory), will this change the computer industry? Where there is chaos, there is opportunity, we shall see, how this is all resolved.


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