Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Can someone who has purchased a Wal-Mart "Balance" laptop ..

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
Share
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 23, 2004 2:07:40 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Hello all,

If you look back through c.s.l you'll see I asked here about AMD's CPU
speed nomenclature because I bought one of Wal-Mart's "Balance"
notebooks, advertised as an Athlon XP-M 1800+, and found that it is
only running at 1.2GHz.

I've been in touch with a couple of other purchasers of this laptop
now, and one of them agreed to break his warranty seal and investigate
the ACTUAL part number etched on the CPU chip. He had the $598 model,
advertised as an "Athlon XP-M 1600+". The actual OPN on his CPU is
AHM1100AV53B, which if you refer to AMD's part# breakdown guide, is a
1.1GHz (not 1600+) mobile Athlon 4, not an XP-M.

The link to that guide is:
<http://www.amd.com/gb-uk/assets/content_type/Downloadab...;

In summary:

1. We have been sold an older-generation mobile Athlon 4, not the
current-generation mobile Athlon XP chip that was advertised.

2. The $598 machine sold as "1600+" is actually running at 1.1GHz,
which would make it a 1400+. It has been confirmed that it does not
have the advertised CPU in it.

3. The $698 machine sold as "1800+" is actually running at 1.2GHz,
which would make it a 1600+ if it was an XP-M. There was never a
mobile Athlon 4 made in the 1800+ speed rating, by the way. Although I
have not broken my warranty seal, I am sure that it will also not have
the advertised chip in it, based on the information above.

4. This is not an isolated one-off manufacturing error. The special
"Balance" BIOS (not available for download anywhere, but only to be
found preloaded on these machines) has been hacked to report false CPU
information on the POST screen. If you flash with the normal, generic
BIOS off ECS's web site, you see *actual* information about the chip.

I was in touch with Wal-Mart's customer service last week, and they
said they'd replace the unit. However that was before I found out the
above.

If you are affected by this issue, I encourage you to email me,
because I am going to be talking to the customer service manager for
walmart.com on Monday afternoon.

More pertinently, I would like someone who is still running with the
factory-shipped BIOS to use the "a535.exe" utility (which is really
just amiflash renamed) to save their BIOS to a file and email it to me
so that I can examine it. If someone could get it to me this weekend,
it would be a great thing.

Obviously I'm going to insist on a refund, and I'm sure Wal-Mart will
give it to me. Equally obviously, you're entitled to a refund too,
since you were shipped something other than what was advertised. But
more importantly we need to get the advertising pulled so that the OEM
who made this fraudulent product gets hit where it hurts.

Even more obviously: Do not buy this product!
October 23, 2004 6:15:33 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

larwe@larwe.com (Lewin A.R.W. Edwards) writes:

> Even more obviously: Do not buy this product!

That all shouldn't be surprising. Walmart has a long history of
selling products in special Walmart-specific sizes that have less
content than expected so that they appear to be a better buy. (The "1
pound" can of coffee that hasn't physically gotten smaller, but has
less coffee in it.)

They just shaved off a few MHz and figured Walmart shoppers wouldn't
be savvy enough to notice.

Admittedly, at least on the coffee can, they do list the net weight,
just not in giant letters below a banner that says "New!! 20% Less!!"

tim
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 23, 2004 8:13:50 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Lewin A.R.W. Edwards wrote:

> The actual OPN on his CPU is
> AHM1100AV53B, which if you refer to AMD's part# breakdown guide, is a
> 1.1GHz (not 1600+) mobile Athlon 4, not an XP-M.

You have to be careful with AMD numbers. The 1600 does not mean the CPU
runs at 1600 MHz. It means that it's comparable, in performance, to an
Intel P4 running at 1600 MHz. For example, my desktop system contains an
XP 1700+ but (IIRC) the CPU is only running at a bit under 1200 MHz.

--

(This space intentionally left blank)
Related resources
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 23, 2004 8:18:03 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Tim wrote:

> larwe@larwe.com (Lewin A.R.W. Edwards) writes:
>
>> Even more obviously: Do not buy this product!
>
> That all shouldn't be surprising. Walmart has a long history of
> selling products in special Walmart-specific sizes that have less
> content than expected so that they appear to be a better buy. (The "1
> pound" can of coffee that hasn't physically gotten smaller, but has
> less coffee in it.)
>
> They just shaved off a few MHz and figured Walmart shoppers wouldn't
> be savvy enough to notice.
>
> Admittedly, at least on the coffee can, they do list the net weight,
> just not in giant letters below a banner that says "New!! 20% Less!!"

A few years ago, Andy Rooney on "60 Minutes" had a piece about several
coffee companies selling cans with less coffee in them, so that practice is
not limited to Wal Mart. And it's not limited to coffee either.



--

(This space intentionally left blank)
October 23, 2004 8:31:33 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

James Knott <james.knott@rogers.com> writes:

> A few years ago, Andy Rooney on "60 Minutes" had a piece about several
> coffee companies selling cans with less coffee in them, so that practice is
> not limited to Wal Mart. And it's not limited to coffee either.

Coffee was the example that stuck in my mind.

Googling for something about it now, I found
http://www.walmartwatch.com/

Perhaps the OP should post his story there. (After getting his/her
money back perhaps)

tim
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 23, 2004 10:55:02 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

> That all shouldn't be surprising. Walmart has a long history of
> selling products in special Walmart-specific sizes that have less
> content than expected so that they appear to be a better buy. (The "1
> pound" can of coffee that hasn't physically gotten smaller, but has
> less coffee in it.)

Yeah, but this is more like ordering coffee and getting chicory
war-substitute. Not only is it a slower processor, it isn't even the
RIGHT processor.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 12:19:34 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

> > The actual OPN on his CPU is
> > AHM1100AV53B, which if you refer to AMD's part# breakdown guide, is a
> > 1.1GHz (not 1600+) mobile Athlon 4, not an XP-M.
>
> You have to be careful with AMD numbers. The 1600 does not mean the CPU
> runs at 1600 MHz. It means that it's comparable, in performance, to an

Please READ MY POSTING in its entirety. I'm well aware of this issue.

The reason I posted originally a week ago or so was because everything I
found on the web told me that a 1800+ was supposed to be running at
1.533GHz, yet my "1800+" was running at 1.2GHz.

As it turns out, an XP-M 1800+ is supposed to run at 1.4GHz (this
information from AMD's technical support).

The clock speed issue is almost irrelevant, though, given that the chip
is a mobile Athlon 4, NOT an XP-M (as advertised).
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 12:26:02 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

"Lewin A.R.W. Edwards" <larwe@larwe.com> wrote in message
news:q1zed.5695$5i5.816@newsread2.news.atl.earthlink.net...
|
| > > The actual OPN on his CPU is
| > > AHM1100AV53B, which if you refer to AMD's part# breakdown guide, is a
| > > 1.1GHz (not 1600+) mobile Athlon 4, not an XP-M.
| >
| > You have to be careful with AMD numbers. The 1600 does not mean the
CPU
| > runs at 1600 MHz. It means that it's comparable, in performance, to an
|
| Please READ MY POSTING in its entirety. I'm well aware of this issue.
|
| The reason I posted originally a week ago or so was because everything I
| found on the web told me that a 1800+ was supposed to be running at
| 1.533GHz, yet my "1800+" was running at 1.2GHz.
|
| As it turns out, an XP-M 1800+ is supposed to run at 1.4GHz (this
| information from AMD's technical support).
|
| The clock speed issue is almost irrelevant, though, given that the chip
| is a mobile Athlon 4, NOT an XP-M (as advertised).

Were you at full processor load when checking the CPU frequency? What
utility did you check the frequency with? What was the actual core? Use a
Program such as CPU-Z to check for the actual core name and near realtime
cpu speed. PowerNow! could be clouding your frequency reading, especially if
you were relying on the system properties.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 12:31:55 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

"Lewin A.R.W. Edwards" <larwe@larwe.com> wrote in message
news:q1zed.5695$5i5.816@newsread2.news.atl.earthlink.net...
|
| > > The actual OPN on his CPU is
| > > AHM1100AV53B, which if you refer to AMD's part# breakdown guide, is a
| > > 1.1GHz (not 1600+) mobile Athlon 4, not an XP-M.
| >
| > You have to be careful with AMD numbers. The 1600 does not mean the
CPU
| > runs at 1600 MHz. It means that it's comparable, in performance, to an
|
| Please READ MY POSTING in its entirety. I'm well aware of this issue.
|
| The reason I posted originally a week ago or so was because everything I
| found on the web told me that a 1800+ was supposed to be running at
| 1.533GHz, yet my "1800+" was running at 1.2GHz.
|
| As it turns out, an XP-M 1800+ is supposed to run at 1.4GHz (this
| information from AMD's technical support).
|
| The clock speed issue is almost irrelevant, though, given that the chip
| is a mobile Athlon 4, NOT an XP-M (as advertised).
|

By the way, the Athlon 4 core is a Palomino which is an Althlon XP. Assuming
you used a trustworthy CPU speed checker, the missing 200MHz is your only
issue.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 5:02:36 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

> Were you at full processor load when checking the CPU frequency? What
> utility did you check the frequency with? What was the actual core? Use a

The PST in BIOS only goes up to 1.2GHz (100MHz FSB x12).
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 5:02:37 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

"Lewin A.R.W. Edwards" <larwe@larwe.com> wrote in message
news:MaDed.5946$5i5.3214@newsread2.news.atl.earthlink.net...
|> Were you at full processor load when checking the CPU frequency? What
| > utility did you check the frequency with? What was the actual core? Use
a
|
| The PST in BIOS only goes up to 1.2GHz (100MHz FSB x12).
|

Try using CPU-Z from within windows, on AC power, with power scheme set to
"always on". This should disable the PowerNow! throttling of the CPU speed
and give you the true max speed of your mobile XP.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 5:03:30 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

> | > > AHM1100AV53B, which if you refer to AMD's part# breakdown guide, is a
> | > > 1.1GHz (not 1600+) mobile Athlon 4, not an XP-M.
>
> By the way, the Athlon 4 core is a Palomino which is an Althlon XP. Assuming

The Athlon XP-M is an 0.13um process. The mobile Athlon 4 is an older
product on 0.18um process.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 5:03:31 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

"Lewin A.R.W. Edwards" <larwe@larwe.com> wrote in message
news:CbDed.5947$5i5.2737@newsread2.news.atl.earthlink.net...
|> | > > AHM1100AV53B, which if you refer to AMD's part# breakdown guide, is
a
| > | > > 1.1GHz (not 1600+) mobile Athlon 4, not an XP-M.
| >
| > By the way, the Athlon 4 core is a Palomino which is an Althlon XP.
Assuming
|
| The Athlon XP-M is an 0.13um process. The mobile Athlon 4 is an older
| product on 0.18um process.
|

Incorrect. The newer XP-M are on the .13 manufacturing process. The original
ones were on .18. The "Athlon 4", as the original notebook XP was named, was
actually released and used before the desktop XP was released. When the
desktop "Athlon 4" was released (on the same .18 palomino core), it was
renamed to "Athlon XP". The older non-XP (Thunderbird) cores were also .18,
but the first XP cores (even the desktop ones) were .18 also.

http://news.com.com/2100-1040-273176.html?legacy=cnet
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 8:23:46 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

> | The PST in BIOS only goes up to 1.2GHz (100MHz FSB x12).
> |
>
> Try using CPU-Z from within windows, on AC power, with power scheme set to

This isn't necessary and can't be used to prove anything, Wal-Mart/ECS
would just say that it's third-party software that might or might not
be right. The PST is a BIOS data structure containing all the allowed
voltage/multiplier pairs for the system. This PST only goes up to
1.350V @ 12x. The 1800+ goes up to 1.4V, 14x.

Look, the other guy who was willing to break his warranty seal already
established that the chip is not what it was advertised to be, and
that the special magic Wal-Mart BIOS has been modified so that it lies
about the installed CPU. We're no longer looking for the problem here
- we found conclusive evidence of it. We're looking for other affected
people.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 8:27:43 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

> Incorrect. The newer XP-M are on the .13 manufacturing process. The original

Well, I wasn't specific enough. The mobile XP, taking all model
variants into account, went up to 1800+ speeds in both 0.13 and
0.18um. The 0.13um variants were in a uPGA package, and the 0.18um
variants were in regular-pitch CPGA. (Look at the tables on AMD's web
site).

The chip with OPN prefix "AHM" (mobile Athlon 4, according to AMD, not
a mobile Athlon XP) never went beyond 1600+ speeds.

By the way: This particular laptop chassis is only advertised
elsewhere in the world with a "1.2GHz Duron" processor.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 2:47:13 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

Nice investigative work!

It seems to me that providing a refund to those few purchasers who
complain is an insufficient punishment to Walmart. They still profit
from their cheating because the vast majority of purchasers will not
complain. I wonder if some type of legal action, perhaps a class action
suit, could be pursued.

Darwin


On 23 Oct 2004 10:07:40 -0700, larwe@larwe.com (Lewin A.R.W. Edwards) wrote:

>Hello all,
>
>If you look back through c.s.l you'll see I asked here about AMD's CPU
>speed nomenclature because I bought one of Wal-Mart's "Balance"
>notebooks, advertised as an Athlon XP-M 1800+, and found that it is
>only running at 1.2GHz.
>
>I've been in touch with a couple of other purchasers of this laptop
>now, and one of them agreed to break his warranty seal and investigate
>the ACTUAL part number etched on the CPU chip. He had the $598 model,
>advertised as an "Athlon XP-M 1600+". The actual OPN on his CPU is
>AHM1100AV53B, which if you refer to AMD's part# breakdown guide, is a
>1.1GHz (not 1600+) mobile Athlon 4, not an XP-M.
>
>The link to that guide is:
><http://www.amd.com/gb-uk/assets/content_type/Downloadab...;
>
>In summary:
>
>1. We have been sold an older-generation mobile Athlon 4, not the
>current-generation mobile Athlon XP chip that was advertised.
>
>2. The $598 machine sold as "1600+" is actually running at 1.1GHz,
>which would make it a 1400+. It has been confirmed that it does not
>have the advertised CPU in it.
>
>3. The $698 machine sold as "1800+" is actually running at 1.2GHz,
>which would make it a 1600+ if it was an XP-M. There was never a
>mobile Athlon 4 made in the 1800+ speed rating, by the way. Although I
>have not broken my warranty seal, I am sure that it will also not have
>the advertised chip in it, based on the information above.
>
>4. This is not an isolated one-off manufacturing error. The special
>"Balance" BIOS (not available for download anywhere, but only to be
>found preloaded on these machines) has been hacked to report false CPU
>information on the POST screen. If you flash with the normal, generic
>BIOS off ECS's web site, you see *actual* information about the chip.
>
>I was in touch with Wal-Mart's customer service last week, and they
>said they'd replace the unit. However that was before I found out the
>above.
>
>If you are affected by this issue, I encourage you to email me,
>because I am going to be talking to the customer service manager for
>walmart.com on Monday afternoon.
>
>More pertinently, I would like someone who is still running with the
>factory-shipped BIOS to use the "a535.exe" utility (which is really
>just amiflash renamed) to save their BIOS to a file and email it to me
>so that I can examine it. If someone could get it to me this weekend,
>it would be a great thing.
>
>Obviously I'm going to insist on a refund, and I'm sure Wal-Mart will
>give it to me. Equally obviously, you're entitled to a refund too,
>since you were shipped something other than what was advertised. But
>more importantly we need to get the advertising pulled so that the OEM
>who made this fraudulent product gets hit where it hurts.
>
>Even more obviously: Do not buy this product!
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 5:30:53 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

"Lewin A.R.W. Edwards" <larwe@larwe.com> wrote in message
news:608b6569.0410240323.4c8f7d2e@posting.google.com...
|> | The PST in BIOS only goes up to 1.2GHz (100MHz FSB x12).
| > |
| >
| > Try using CPU-Z from within windows, on AC power, with power scheme set
to
|
| This isn't necessary and can't be used to prove anything, Wal-Mart/ECS
| would just say that it's third-party software that might or might not
| be right. The PST is a BIOS data structure containing all the allowed
| voltage/multiplier pairs for the system. This PST only goes up to
| 1.350V @ 12x. The 1800+ goes up to 1.4V, 14x.
|
| Look, the other guy who was willing to break his warranty seal already
| established that the chip is not what it was advertised to be, and
| that the special magic Wal-Mart BIOS has been modified so that it lies
| about the installed CPU. We're no longer looking for the problem here
| - we found conclusive evidence of it. We're looking for other affected
| people.

you uorself said it was an Athlon 4 which is an XP
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 5:32:42 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

"Lewin A.R.W. Edwards" <larwe@larwe.com> wrote in message
news:608b6569.0410240327.810b699@posting.google.com...
|> Incorrect. The newer XP-M are on the .13 manufacturing process. The
original
|
| Well, I wasn't specific enough. The mobile XP, taking all model
| variants into account, went up to 1800+ speeds in both 0.13 and
| 0.18um. The 0.13um variants were in a uPGA package, and the 0.18um
| variants were in regular-pitch CPGA. (Look at the tables on AMD's web
| site).
|
| The chip with OPN prefix "AHM" (mobile Athlon 4, according to AMD, not
| a mobile Athlon XP) never went beyond 1600+ speeds.
|
| By the way: This particular laptop chassis is only advertised
| elsewhere in the world with a "1.2GHz Duron" processor.

Mobile Athlon 4 IS an Athlon XP. It was simply a name change. You are
correct that the ones named Athlon 4 only go up to 1600+.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 7:43:25 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

Darwin <nospam@nospam.com> wrote in message news:<m6qnn01cnoga8r84eaq3r6ou1g17sc3jpo@4ax.com>...
> Nice investigative work!
>
> It seems to me that providing a refund to those few purchasers who
> complain is an insufficient punishment to Walmart. They still profit
> from their cheating because the vast majority of purchasers will not
> complain. I wonder if some type of legal action, perhaps a class action
> suit, could be pursued.

If this were in the UK we would just take the machine and the sales
literature to the local authority's "trading standards officer" and,
once they understood the situation, the authority would prosecute for
a "misleading trade description", with almost unlimited fines.

I can't believe that the USA does not have similar legislation in at
least one state.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 8:03:42 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

Darwin wrote:
> Nice investigative work!
>
> It seems to me that providing a refund to those few purchasers who
> complain is an insufficient punishment to Walmart. They still profit
> from their cheating because the vast majority of purchasers will not
> complain. I wonder if some type of legal action, perhaps a class action
> suit, could be pursued.
>
> Darwin
>

I wonder what AMD has to say about this? They shouldn't allow resellers
mislabeling their products. It will lead to people thinking the 1800+
is slower than it really is.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 24, 2004 9:41:04 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

Darwin <nospam@nospam.com> wrote in message news:<m6qnn01cnoga8r84eaq3r6ou1g17sc3jpo@4ax.com>...
> Nice investigative work!
>
> It seems to me that providing a refund to those few purchasers who
> complain is an insufficient punishment to Walmart. They still profit
> from their cheating because the vast majority of purchasers will not
> complain. I wonder if some type of legal action, perhaps a class action
> suit, could be pursued.
>
> Darwin
>

Good chance that Wal-Mart had no idea of the problem. Their buyers
just bought sight unseen for price and profit.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 25, 2004 9:40:52 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

> Good chance that Wal-Mart had no idea of the problem. Their buyers
> just bought sight unseen for price and profit.

I'm 90% sure that is the actual case. In fairness, I have to say this
- *CUSTOMER* service as I have experienced it thus far, both from the
regular "frontline" at the web site, and direct from the customer
service manager - is very good. Unfortunately, the product is
deliberately faked, like a "Louis Viutton"(sic) handbag.

I faxed a detailed description of this problem to the CSM today, along
with the relevant pages of AMD's processor identification guide (She's
on the west coast, so I get up three hours earlier). I will be calling
her this afternoon looking for answers. At this point in time I want
to return this laptop, forget I ever heard about the brand name, and I
want some compensation for the 1.5 business days I've spent
researching the issue (plus the fact that I'm without a laptop while
this gets resolved, since I gave my old one to my wife). I think
sufficient compensation would be having Wal-Mart ship me whatever
their lowest-end NAME BRAND (Averatec, HP, whatever) laptop is and eat
the price difference.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 25, 2004 9:47:10 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

> If this were in the UK we would just take the machine and the sales
> literature to the local authority's "trading standards officer" and,

It's not quite as simple as that for me. I am in New York, but the
company is in California. The only authority with applicable
jurisdiction over the entire country is the FTC. A single consumer
complaint won't mobilize the FTC. Now, once I start advertising for
names and addresses of people who are affected by the problem, and ALL
of them complain to the FTC, that's possibly a different story... The
situation is further complicated by the fact that walmart.com has
"nexus" in New York (as evidenced by the fact that they charged me
sales tax). So there may be a local authority to whom I can complain,
and that complaint may be a necessary step before getting the FTC
interested :/ 

Actually I think there will be no difficulty in obtaining a full
refund. Like I said in another posting, their customer support has
been perfect so far. My two concerns are:

1. This item in their catalog is a booby trap. The advertising needs
to be fixed. Yesterday. Or the product needs to be pulled. This
probably means issuing refunds to anyone who bought it. The supplier
ought to carry the can.

2. I've wasted approximately 12 hours, measured on the same scale I
use for consulting jobs, researching, emailing, posting,
letter-writing and faxing. That's US$1200 of my time at my standard
consulting rate. I'm also down a laptop until I get a refund, buy a
replacement, and get it shipped to me. I want compensation for that.
If it was a shipping error or something, I'd be a bit peeved. This is
no shipping error, it is deliberate fraud.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 25, 2004 9:56:22 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

> Nice investigative work!

Thanks, but I would rather not have had this thing around my neck :( 

> It seems to me that providing a refund to those few purchasers who
> complain is an insufficient punishment to Walmart. They still profit
> from their cheating because the vast majority of purchasers will not
> complain. I wonder if some type of legal action, perhaps a class action
> suit, could be pursued.

IANAL but there are a bunch of ways you could view this, including the
viewpoint that anyone who doesn't notice has not suffered damage
(until they come to resell the laptop, maybe). I simply don't know.
But I do know I'm not going to start waving threats around
hysterically. It really doesn't seem to be necessary anyway, the
customer service manager I've dealt with seems to be a very reasonable
person. And if this is a vendor problem, Wal-Mart wants to find out
before the holiday buying season starts to go crazy.

I do intend to mention the words "class action" if it becomes
necessary. If it's the vendor's fault, which seems likely, then you
can RELY on it Wal-Mart will charge back to the vendor every single
dollar they lose in this matter.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 25, 2004 4:41:08 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Followup to this issue:

> 2. The $598 machine sold as "1600+" is actually running at 1.1GHz,
> which would make it a 1400+. It has been confirmed that it does not
> have the advertised CPU in it.
>
> 3. The $698 machine sold as "1800+" is actually running at 1.2GHz,
> which would make it a 1600+ if it was an XP-M. There was never a
> mobile Athlon 4 made in the 1800+ speed rating, by the way. Although I

I just spoke to the computer buyer for Wal-Mart. He physically opened
his "1800+" machine and physically confirmed that it's an old 1.2GHz
chip. Quote-unquote, they have found a "discrepancy" and they are
contacting the vendor to explain it. They are also contacting AMD to
confirm the details. Things are still kind of up in the air as to what
specifically will happen with my case, and with that of the other
person whose details I gave them, but we'll see.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 25, 2004 8:09:29 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

larwe@larwe.com (Lewin A.R.W. Edwards) wrote:
>It's not quite as simple as that for me. I am in New York, but the
>company is in California.

Call the NY Attorney General's office, that's what they are there for.
Especially, as you say:

>situation is further complicated by the fact that walmart.com has
>"nexus" in New York (as evidenced by the fact that they charged me
>sales tax).

That's not a complication, that's a confirmation. They are
deliberately (Yes!) misrepresenting their product, and need to be
taken to task for it.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 25, 2004 9:03:16 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Lewin A.R.W. Edwards wrote:

> I just spoke to the computer buyer for Wal-Mart. He physically opened
> his "1800+" machine and physically confirmed that it's an old 1.2GHz
> chip. Quote-unquote, they have found a "discrepancy" and they are
> contacting the vendor to explain it. They are also contacting AMD to
> confirm the details. Things are still kind of up in the air as to what
> specifically will happen with my case, and with that of the other
> person whose details I gave them, but we'll see.

So perhaps Wal-Mart was cheated by the vendor?

--

(This space intentionally left blank)
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 25, 2004 9:03:17 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

I'm pretty sure these systems are barebones systems bought directly from
ECS...which would imply that Wal-mart is having people assemble them, I
think.

"James Knott" <james.knott@rogers.com> wrote in message
news:G7GdnWc5PZ-J9-DcRVn-hg@rogers.com...
> Lewin A.R.W. Edwards wrote:
>
>> I just spoke to the computer buyer for Wal-Mart. He physically opened
>> his "1800+" machine and physically confirmed that it's an old 1.2GHz
>> chip. Quote-unquote, they have found a "discrepancy" and they are
>> contacting the vendor to explain it. They are also contacting AMD to
>> confirm the details. Things are still kind of up in the air as to what
>> specifically will happen with my case, and with that of the other
>> person whose details I gave them, but we'll see.
>
> So perhaps Wal-Mart was cheated by the vendor?
>
> --
>
> (This space intentionally left blank)
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 25, 2004 11:05:41 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

> I'm pretty sure these systems are barebones systems bought directly from
> ECS...which would imply that Wal-mart is having people assemble them, I
> think.

The CPUs are soldered though, according to my friend in Ohio who
risked his "warranty" in the pursuit of science. So the mainboard,
including CPU, had to be soldered all at once. And who was it that
generated the hacked BIOS?

I've put up a couple of theories on my review page (really reads more
like a LiveJournal now). www.larwe.com and click on the picture of the
laptop...

Conspiracy theories aside, it will be a mighty cold day in hell before
I ever buy an ECS product again. I should probably jump up and down
and demand compensation for my time on this ridiculous, pointless
research project. I'm letting them off lightly.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 26, 2004 1:06:12 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Keep us up to date on this. I would start throwing around the word 'fraud'
because it sounds like someone somewhere in the Walmart pipeline is lying.

"Lewin A.R.W. Edwards" <larwe@larwe.com> wrote in message
news:608b6569.0410251141.7ef68d12@posting.google.com...
> Followup to this issue:
>
> > 2. The $598 machine sold as "1600+" is actually running at 1.1GHz,
> > which would make it a 1400+. It has been confirmed that it does not
> > have the advertised CPU in it.
> >
> > 3. The $698 machine sold as "1800+" is actually running at 1.2GHz,
> > which would make it a 1600+ if it was an XP-M. There was never a
> > mobile Athlon 4 made in the 1800+ speed rating, by the way. Although I
>
> I just spoke to the computer buyer for Wal-Mart. He physically opened
> his "1800+" machine and physically confirmed that it's an old 1.2GHz
> chip. Quote-unquote, they have found a "discrepancy" and they are
> contacting the vendor to explain it. They are also contacting AMD to
> confirm the details. Things are still kind of up in the air as to what
> specifically will happen with my case, and with that of the other
> person whose details I gave them, but we'll see.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 26, 2004 1:06:13 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

"Jon Cortelyou" <jcortel@not_spam.hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<8Vdfd.9933$6q2.5971@newssvr14.news.prodigy.com>...
> Keep us up to date on this. I would start throwing around the word 'fraud'
> because it sounds like someone somewhere in the Walmart pipeline is lying.

Trust me, the word was used more than once in my fax of this morning.
If people actually care, I'll PDF it and put it up on my web site.

I need to stress once more: So far, I have no reason to complain about
the Wal-Mart side of things. Everything I have seen is consistent with
a fraudulent vendor. For all I know, these things are drop-shipped
direct from someone else and never see the inside of a Wal-Mart
warehouse. And the Wal-Mart people I've dealt with have all been
responsive, have acknowledged that there's a problem without trying to
invent any B.S. explanations [frankly I was expecting some of these],
and they haven't given me the brush-off (unlike ECS, who gave me what
amounted to a "no speakee English" answer, and MTS who were no
better).

Of course, it would have been HELPFUL if Wal-Mart had torn down one of
these things before committing to buy 1,000,000 of them. I don't think
that buyer will relish explaining the situation to his managers. But
the machine LOOKS like it's what it's advertised to be. It takes some
prying and poking to reveal the truth. And luck. I happen to use
Linux. On powerup, the powernow! driver prints a table of recognized
speed configurations. That was where I started to get my first sniff
of skulduggery. If I only used Windows, I might never have noticed.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 26, 2004 2:26:47 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Lewin A.R.W. Edwards wrote:

> Of course, it would have been HELPFUL if Wal-Mart had torn down one of
> these things before committing to buy 1,000,000 of them. I don't think
> that buyer will relish explaining the situation to his managers.

How do you know they didn't? What to stop a crooked vendor from supplying
an up to spec sample, prior to the order being placed then using
sub-standard parts in the production run? Then again, perhaps Walmart may
have to do some sample testing of production systems.

--

(This space intentionally left blank)
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 26, 2004 12:06:00 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

> > Of course, it would have been HELPFUL if Wal-Mart had torn down one of
> > these things before committing to buy 1,000,000 of them. I don't think
>
> How do you know they didn't? What to stop a crooked vendor from supplying

True. If they'll fake it in the first place, they may as well seed the
test pool. I just assumed that Wal-Mart would treat it like a toaster;
look at the box, it says "four slot toaster, black", look at the
toaster, it has four holes and it's black, ergo it's the right
product. Regardless of whether all four slots actually lead to heating
elements.. :) 
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 26, 2004 3:44:19 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Lewin A.R.W. Edwards wrote:

>> > Of course, it would have been HELPFUL if Wal-Mart had torn down one of
>> > these things before committing to buy 1,000,000 of them. I don't think
>>
>> How do you know they didn't? What to stop a crooked vendor from
>> supplying
>
> True. If they'll fake it in the first place, they may as well seed the
> test pool. I just assumed that Wal-Mart would treat it like a toaster;
> look at the box, it says "four slot toaster, black", look at the
> toaster, it has four holes and it's black, ergo it's the right
> product. Regardless of whether all four slots actually lead to heating
> elements.. :) 

If they suspect such a problem, they'd have to pull random samples from the
production systems, so that the vendor doesn't know which computers will be
tested. If Wal-Mart goes to the vendor and asks for additional "samples",
we can guess the result.

Proper testing costs money, which can be a significant factor, when you're
working on slim margins. However, given they now know there's a problem,
they'll have to pull samples and verify them. If they're being drop
shipped, then they'll have to arrange for some dummy purchases, so that the
vendor doesn't know they'll be tested.

Also, checking computers is a bit more involved than checking a toaster.


--

(This space intentionally left blank)
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 27, 2004 10:17:19 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

Wal-Mart/Sam's Club does not manufacture any product. They are only a retail
outlet. Now they can order just about anything they want in any
configuration because of the order quantity. I would believe that Walmart
got ripped off by ECS. ECS saw a great way to get rid of their floor
sweepings. Dump them in a cheap laptop and no one will notice----WRONG.

You may like or dislike Walmart but they have never been dishonest with me
and their return policy has always outstanding.

"Daniel Tang" <dytang@purdue.edu> wrote in message
news:cljqt5$mj5$1@mozo.cc.purdue.edu...
> I'm pretty sure these systems are barebones systems bought directly from
> ECS...which would imply that Wal-mart is having people assemble them, I
> think.
>
> "James Knott" <james.knott@rogers.com> wrote in message
> news:G7GdnWc5PZ-J9-DcRVn-hg@rogers.com...
> > Lewin A.R.W. Edwards wrote:
> >
> >> I just spoke to the computer buyer for Wal-Mart. He physically opened
> >> his "1800+" machine and physically confirmed that it's an old 1.2GHz
> >> chip. Quote-unquote, they have found a "discrepancy" and they are
> >> contacting the vendor to explain it. They are also contacting AMD to
> >> confirm the details. Things are still kind of up in the air as to what
> >> specifically will happen with my case, and with that of the other
> >> person whose details I gave them, but we'll see.
> >
> > So perhaps Wal-Mart was cheated by the vendor?
> >
> > --
> >
> > (This space intentionally left blank)
>
>
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 27, 2004 2:46:16 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

> A few years ago, Andy Rooney on "60 Minutes" had a piece about several
> coffee companies selling cans with less coffee in them, so that practice is
> not limited to Wal Mart. And it's not limited to coffee either.

As a matter of interest, I used to work at [big plastics company that
makes toys, specifically LARGE toys, among many other things]. Quite
often you will find items (toys are where my specific experience lies)
in Wal-Mart, in colors or color schemes that aren't available anywhere
else. These tend to be paler colors (orange, for example) The reason
for this is:

a) raw plastic resin pellets used in these applications are clear,
translucent or white and have a powdered pigment mixed in just prior
to molding.

b) certain pigments are cheaper per pound,

c) lighter colors require less of a given pigment per pound of plastic
resin.

So the Wal-Mart special versions are often lighter colors, and in some
cases missing certain expensive colors (e.g. the regular version of a
ride-on toy might be bright red with blue doors, the Wal-Mart version
might be orange with yellow doors). This occasionally has unintended
side-effects, particularly for outdoor items, because a lower pigment
content means UV can penetrate deeper. Many plastics decompose or
discolor under UV.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 27, 2004 5:33:54 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Update on this situation:

> 2. The $598 machine sold as "1600+" is actually running at 1.1GHz,
> which would make it a 1400+. It has been confirmed that it does not
>
> 3. The $698 machine sold as "1800+" is actually running at 1.2GHz,
> which would make it a 1600+ if it was an XP-M. There was never a

I was called today by the operations manager at the Wal-Mart customer
service center. There was an urgent meeting today with the vendor this
morning. (I would *love* to have been a fly on the wall. Bet there was
blood on the floor). One of the main issues at this meeting was to
determine if it's every single laptop affected (actually there is a
third intermediate model, CN6301, available on samsclub.com, which is
practically certain to be in the same situation). The upshot, although
he didn't tell me this in QUITE those words, is that the vendor is
going to be eating every dime of Wal-Mart's expenses in fixing this
situation.

As far as what that fix is going to be, I don't know yet, because he
didn't have full info himself on the results of the meeting. But the
ops mgr said specifically that Wal-Mart will put a notice on their web
site and send out a mass email to all the affected people telling them
what the remedy is and giving instructions for upgrade return, rebate
check, or whatever it might be. As far as that goes, I'm happy with
the way things are proceeding. And they are proceeding about as fast
as I could reasonably expect.

I am, however, NOT terribly happy that the three affected models are
still being sold on walmart.com and samsclub.com. The guy I spoke to
today said that it's not as simple as just editing an HTML file, this
data is extracted from vast and mysterious databases and loaded en
masse periodically. Plus they want

I am also NOT happy that all of a sudden from work (and often from
home), when I go to walmart.com, I get a message saying "Sorry!
Walmart.com is temporarily closed for business". Strangely, when I ask
a friend (or the abovementioned ops mgr) to visit the site, they have
no problems accessing it at the exact same moment I'm trying to access
it. Clearing cookies makes no difference. I wonder if IP addresses
that I've logged on (in the sense of, entered my email and password)
from are being blocked.

As far as my specific case goes, I'm sending back the (unopened)
second laptop tomorrow. It isn't clear to me what my restitution is
going to be at this point. The situation is still developing.
Obviously, the fact that I'm still without a laptop (and going to be
without for at least another two weeks, probably) also has me a tad
PO'd.

More news when something transpires. I think there will probably be a
final answer on what's happening later in this week.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 29, 2004 11:06:27 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Good to see Wal-Mart is recognizing it as a serious problem. Your story is
an unfortunate one but you can take some consolation that are helping out
what is probably thousands of customers to get what they actually paid for.

It's somewhat surprising that it appears you are first person to bring up
this problem to them.

"Lewin A.R.W. Edwards" <larwe@larwe.com> wrote in message
news:608b6569.0410271233.222e723a@posting.google.com...
> Update on this situation:
>
>> 2. The $598 machine sold as "1600+" is actually running at 1.1GHz,
>> which would make it a 1400+. It has been confirmed that it does not
>>
>> 3. The $698 machine sold as "1800+" is actually running at 1.2GHz,
>> which would make it a 1600+ if it was an XP-M. There was never a
>
> I was called today by the operations manager at the Wal-Mart customer
> service center. There was an urgent meeting today with the vendor this
> morning. (I would *love* to have been a fly on the wall. Bet there was
> blood on the floor). One of the main issues at this meeting was to
> determine if it's every single laptop affected (actually there is a
> third intermediate model, CN6301, available on samsclub.com, which is
> practically certain to be in the same situation). The upshot, although
> he didn't tell me this in QUITE those words, is that the vendor is
> going to be eating every dime of Wal-Mart's expenses in fixing this
> situation.
>
> As far as what that fix is going to be, I don't know yet, because he
> didn't have full info himself on the results of the meeting. But the
> ops mgr said specifically that Wal-Mart will put a notice on their web
> site and send out a mass email to all the affected people telling them
> what the remedy is and giving instructions for upgrade return, rebate
> check, or whatever it might be. As far as that goes, I'm happy with
> the way things are proceeding. And they are proceeding about as fast
> as I could reasonably expect.
>
> I am, however, NOT terribly happy that the three affected models are
> still being sold on walmart.com and samsclub.com. The guy I spoke to
> today said that it's not as simple as just editing an HTML file, this
> data is extracted from vast and mysterious databases and loaded en
> masse periodically. Plus they want
>
> I am also NOT happy that all of a sudden from work (and often from
> home), when I go to walmart.com, I get a message saying "Sorry!
> Walmart.com is temporarily closed for business". Strangely, when I ask
> a friend (or the abovementioned ops mgr) to visit the site, they have
> no problems accessing it at the exact same moment I'm trying to access
> it. Clearing cookies makes no difference. I wonder if IP addresses
> that I've logged on (in the sense of, entered my email and password)
> from are being blocked.
>
> As far as my specific case goes, I'm sending back the (unopened)
> second laptop tomorrow. It isn't clear to me what my restitution is
> going to be at this point. The situation is still developing.
> Obviously, the fact that I'm still without a laptop (and going to be
> without for at least another two weeks, probably) also has me a tad
> PO'd.
>
> More news when something transpires. I think there will probably be a
> final answer on what's happening later in this week.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 29, 2004 12:48:55 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

> Good to see Wal-Mart is recognizing it as a serious problem. Your story is
> an unfortunate one but you can take some consolation that are helping out
> what is probably thousands of customers to get what they actually paid for.

Yes, I'm very pleased with the way this has turned out.

Actually - I'll reveal this now, though I was previously keeping quiet
about it - I was contacted by a couple of laywers (independently) who
specialize in class actions of this type, asking if I wanted to become
a lead plaintiff. Naturally, the egregious nature of the case and the
potential size of the class had them salivating. I chose NOT to go
with that option because I feel that litigation ought to be a last
resort [you might guess, I'm not an American citizen ;) ]. As it
happens I am very glad I made that decision, because Wal-Mart
investigated and acknowledged the issue immediately, pretty much fixed
it within a few days, and basically have dealt with the situation very
openly and proactively ever since I got in touch with them directly.
The issue has occupied ME for about three weeks, but most of that time
was initial research, dealing with the useless tech support company,
waiting for shipments to arrive, that sort of thing.

Once I sent the final fax to Wal-Mart, I got a call back the very same
day saying they'd opened a machine and found the same issues I
described, and two days later they had already met with their vendor
for, presumably, a rather irate "please explain" session.

The web site was mostly fixed as of yesterday, it now shows accurate
CPU speed info. (A reasonable inference from that, by the way, is that
every one of these machines sold has this fakery inside it. If it was
a glitch, they would have fixed the machines to match the advertising,
not vice versa).

Going down the legal route would have taken months, probably would not
have led to a significantly better settlement for the average class
member (but I reserve judgement on that until I find out what they're
offering other customers), and merely enriches the legal profession.
Stupid to do this when the company in question is so obviously willing
to fix the problem without intervention.

> It's somewhat surprising that it appears you are first person to bring up
> this problem to them.

It was deliberately concealed by the faked BIOS, which would have
stopped many investigations right away. People running Windows do not
have an easy way of telling that the PST only goes up to 1.2GHz, and
they might not even know what the correct CPU speed is supposed to be;
AMD certainly doesn't make it easy to find out. Anyone who called the
MTS tech support line would have been given a brushoff answer. So
there were numerous hurdles. I guess I'm just a persistent SOB who is
lucky enough to run Linux :)  I spent about 60 minutes on the phone to
MTS, emails to AMD, a long email discussion with an owner of the
slower model, one letter, a few phone calls and one fax to Wal-Mart,
plus miscellanous web research, before I got to the point where I was
able to say "I've given you definitive proof that the product is
mislabeled".

Also, I have to admit, at a couple of points I came close to just
giving up and saying "It's good enough, whatever, I don't believe what
I'm being told but it'll do".
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 29, 2004 2:33:58 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

>> Good chance that Wal-Mart had no idea of the problem. Their buyers
>> just bought sight unseen for price and profit.
>
>I'm 90% sure that is the actual case.

No way. If it was an honest mistake, half their reworked products
would have higher specs than listed. I can assure you they all have
lower specs. The worst one I'm aware of was the Toshiba e740 Pocket PC
sold by Sam's Club. Sam's Club's version did not have built in WiFi.
Every other e740 made in the world had builtin WiFi. No where on
Toshiba's site have they ever listd an e740 that came with out WiFi.
Sam Walton preys on his customers who are rarely tech savy.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 29, 2004 4:26:42 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Just discovered this thread and read it with amazement. From what you
are very clearly saying, I gather that:

1/ any intentional fraud from Walmart is extremely unlikely. It just
sounds like their purchasing procedures are not thorough enough and that
they got taken for a ride. The hacked BIOS really is incredible.

2/ you never said anything about the machine not performing as expected
and you do not seem to have heard of any complaints in this regard. This
is probably why you were apparently the first to discover the fraud. So,
basically, since the machine appears to perform as you can expect in
this price range, it is easy to see how Walmart may have been duped.
Furthermore, no offense intended, but I suspect that demanding computer
users seldom buy their equipment from Walmart and the others are
probably happy as long as their machines do what they expect and they
look no further. It is fortunate you were savvy enough to discover this.

3/ the way Walmart will eventually deal with your problem will be very
interesting. I do not doubt one second you will get a full refund; what
will be interesting is to know what steps they will take to "make it for
you". You actually did them a great favor since, in this day and age,
the last thing Walmart wants is a bad publicity. Cutting costs is one
thing, blatant fraud is another.

4/ We will probably never know what will happen to the Walmart buyer who
managed to get his company into this mess and to the executives of the
company who deliberately hacked the BIOS ... I am not sure it is wise
for a company like Walmart to get into technological products like
computers. Of course, as someone mentioned, $5 on a machine can still be
profitable if you sell millions of them but problems like the one you
discovered can eat this kind of profit very fast and more importantly,
damage your reputation.

5/ As an aside, I wish the way chip makers like Intel and AMD sell their
products offered more visibility. Who would want to buy to "cheap"
Cadillac because 2 of its 8 cylinders have been disabled ? I wish some
kind of standard existed which would put some clarity in this area.

Curious to see what the end will be ...

--
John Doue
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 29, 2004 5:03:20 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Lewin A.R.W. Edwards wrote:

> Actually - I'll reveal this now, though I was previously keeping quiet
> about it - I was contacted by a couple of laywers (independently) who
> specialize in class actions of this type, asking if I wanted to become
> a lead plaintiff. Naturally, the egregious nature of the case and the
> potential size of the class had them salivating.

Given that Wal-Mart also appears to be a victim here and considering their
response, when they found out, it's unlikely you'd get a judgement against
them. Lawyers don't allow facts to get in the way of a lawsuit.

--

(This space intentionally left blank)
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 29, 2004 5:07:44 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

> lower specs. The worst one I'm aware of was the Toshiba e740 Pocket PC
> sold by Sam's Club. Sam's Club's version did not have built in WiFi.

I'm sure the Sam's Club catalog did not claim that it had WiFi,
though.

There is a world of difference between Wal-Mart selling a special
cut-down cheaper version of a product (which I'm sure they do) and
falsely advertising feature ABC when the product doesn't have that
feature (which I'm sure they DON'T).

There's a bunch of stuff they sell that's a special Wal-Mart version.
I know that for a fact. As long as the catalog tells me truthfully
what is in it, I don't have a problem with that. In fact, for
instance, HP makes an entire range of computers with a "wm" prefix to
the model number, which are specific to Wal-Mart. Lower specs than the
non-wm version, yes. But truthfully advertised.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 29, 2004 5:31:00 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Hi,

> 1/ any intentional fraud from Walmart is extremely unlikely. It just

I think closer to "impossible". Wal-Mart wants boxes in, boxes out as
fast as possible, not lawsuits. This whole thing was a lawsuit waiting
to happen.

> they got taken for a ride. The hacked BIOS really is incredible.

It's happened before, particularly with overclocked chips. There have
been BIOSes hacked to report Celerons as higher-end Pentium chips, etc
etc.

> 2/ you never said anything about the machine not performing as expected

Right. The machine is a bit on the sluggish side (mostly due to
chipset issues, a faster CPU won't actually make it perform much
snappier). But that is not the point. False advertising is the point.

> basically, since the machine appears to perform as you can expect in
> this price range, it is easy to see how Walmart may have been duped.
> Furthermore, no offense intended, but I suspect that demanding computer
> users seldom buy their equipment from Walmart and the others are

This is what I say in my review, pretty much (scroll down past all the
problem-log on my website and you'll see the original review). The
machine is intended for entry-level consumers. It's not a gaming
machine, not a CAD machine, it's for basic Internet, word processing,
etc.

> 3/ the way Walmart will eventually deal with your problem will be very
> interesting. I do not doubt one second you will get a full refund; what

I could have gotten that from day one without anything more than
clicking a link on their web site. I asked for something a little
different, though. The primary consideration was to get the website
changed or the product pulled, and the secondary consideration was to
ensure that purchasers will be compensated.

> you". You actually did them a great favor since, in this day and age,
> the last thing Walmart wants is a bad publicity. Cutting costs is one

I more or less said this to them :) 

> 4/ We will probably never know what will happen to the Walmart buyer who
> managed to get his company into this mess and to the executives of the

He did as good a job as I'd expect. I can tell you from experience on
the vendor side, selling electronic appliances to big companies like
Wal-Mart and Best Buy, the way they decide if they want the product is
to see the price, play with a sample, and talk to their marketing
people. They do not do a teardown and rigorous inspection of every
subassembly and internal component; they simply check that it appears
to work the way the manufacturer claims, and the detailed specs are
cut-n-pasted from manufacturer literature. This item was faked to look
like it was what the manufacturer claimed.

The fault here lies entirely with the vendor, a middleman I believe to
be this "MTS" company. Wouldn't surprise me if someone lost his job
there.

> 5/ As an aside, I wish the way chip makers like Intel and AMD sell their
> products offered more visibility. Who would want to buy to "cheap"

Absolutely. If AMD built in an ID function that allows software to say
positively "This is an XYZ processor rated for speeds up to ABC", it
would have been much easier. And the problem would probably have been
spotted sooner.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 29, 2004 8:34:21 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

AndrewJ wrote:
>>> Good chance that Wal-Mart had no idea of the problem. Their buyers
>>> just bought sight unseen for price and profit.
>>
>> I'm 90% sure that is the actual case.
>
> No way. If it was an honest mistake, half their reworked products
> would have higher specs than listed. I can assure you they all have
> lower specs. The worst one I'm aware of was the Toshiba e740 Pocket PC
> sold by Sam's Club. Sam's Club's version did not have built in WiFi.
> Every other e740 made in the world had builtin WiFi. No where on
> Toshiba's site have they ever listd an e740 that came with out WiFi.
> Sam Walton preys on his customers who are rarely tech savy.

I don't know...my Gateway manual says I should have either a memory reader
port, or a floppy drive. I have neither. I bought my machine at an outlet.
I knew it had neither device, but it was cheap....

jak
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 29, 2004 8:36:08 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Jon Cortelyou wrote:
> Good to see Wal-Mart is recognizing it as a serious problem. Your story is
> an unfortunate one but you can take some consolation that are helping out
> what is probably thousands of customers to get what they actually paid for.
>
> It's somewhat surprising that it appears you are first person to bring up
> this problem to them.
>

It's probably a case of several people having had the problem and it
becoming such a big issue that it can't be brushed underthe carpet much
longer. All customers with the problem are toild "you're the first".
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 29, 2004 8:36:09 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

floda reltih wrote:

> Jon Cortelyou wrote:
>> Good to see Wal-Mart is recognizing it as a serious problem. Your story
>> is an unfortunate one but you can take some consolation that are helping
>> out what is probably thousands of customers to get what they actually
>> paid for.
>>
>> It's somewhat surprising that it appears you are first person to bring up
>> this problem to them.
>>
>
> It's probably a case of several people having had the problem and it
> becoming such a big issue that it can't be brushed underthe carpet much
> longer. All customers with the problem are toild "you're the first".

Or perhaps the average Wal-Mart shopper isn't capable of noticing. Having
worked in computer support, I'd suspect that's a likely reason.

--

(This space intentionally left blank)
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 29, 2004 8:37:29 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

> Given that Wal-Mart also appears to be a victim here and considering their
> response, when they found out, it's unlikely you'd get a judgement against
> them.

You're right, but it might not have turned out that way. The vendor
might have just disappeared or gone bankrupt, leaving W-M holding the
can. They might have decided to see what would happen if they just
ignored me. So it was a legitimate case, initially.

But I agree with your comment about lawyers :)  I didn't see ANY reason
to start that kind of BS without at least giving W-M a chance. And
they made things good, so all's well that ends well (except for the
laywers).
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 29, 2004 9:34:37 PM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops (More info?)

>
> Or perhaps the average Wal-Mart shopper isn't capable of noticing. Having
> worked in computer support, I'd suspect that's a likely reason.
>

That's probably true. Most people buy "a laptop" rather than looking at
the specifications. I've come accross some real horror stories with
technological items and how people buy them. Always it's a case of the
salesman seeing an idiot in front of them and making the most of it. In
one case I heard about somebody bought a digital camera, relied on the
salesman for advice and information and walked away having paid $1000
too much. They were fuming after and threatening to sue the shop, the
local trade association and the mayor's parrot. In reality, it was
probably a very good lesson to them - salesmen are there to sell, not to
offer timely or accurate advice.

Personally, I'm interested in buying a laptop but am not very impressed
with what I'd get for my money. I don't feel that $800 (the cheapest) is
value for money for something that's going to break within 5 years. As
far as secondhand goes, I'd pay maybe $50 for one but no more. When
laptops come down to $300 then I will probably be a bit more interested.
Anonymous
a b D Laptop
October 30, 2004 1:22:53 AM

Archived from groups: comp.sys.laptops,comp.os.linux.portable (More info?)

Do you still have Windows installed on the laptop in question. I'm curious
to what the (free) utility 'CPUz' recognizes the CPU as?

"Lewin A.R.W. Edwards" <larwe@larwe.com> wrote in message
news:608b6569.0410290748.5649207a@posting.google.com...
> > Good to see Wal-Mart is recognizing it as a serious problem. Your story
is
> > an unfortunate one but you can take some consolation that are helping
out
> > what is probably thousands of customers to get what they actually paid
for.
>
> Yes, I'm very pleased with the way this has turned out.
>
> Actually - I'll reveal this now, though I was previously keeping quiet
> about it - I was contacted by a couple of laywers (independently) who
> specialize in class actions of this type, asking if I wanted to become
> a lead plaintiff. Naturally, the egregious nature of the case and the
> potential size of the class had them salivating. I chose NOT to go
> with that option because I feel that litigation ought to be a last
> resort [you might guess, I'm not an American citizen ;) ]. As it
> happens I am very glad I made that decision, because Wal-Mart
> investigated and acknowledged the issue immediately, pretty much fixed
> it within a few days, and basically have dealt with the situation very
> openly and proactively ever since I got in touch with them directly.
> The issue has occupied ME for about three weeks, but most of that time
> was initial research, dealing with the useless tech support company,
> waiting for shipments to arrive, that sort of thing.
>
> Once I sent the final fax to Wal-Mart, I got a call back the very same
> day saying they'd opened a machine and found the same issues I
> described, and two days later they had already met with their vendor
> for, presumably, a rather irate "please explain" session.
>
> The web site was mostly fixed as of yesterday, it now shows accurate
> CPU speed info. (A reasonable inference from that, by the way, is that
> every one of these machines sold has this fakery inside it. If it was
> a glitch, they would have fixed the machines to match the advertising,
> not vice versa).
>
> Going down the legal route would have taken months, probably would not
> have led to a significantly better settlement for the average class
> member (but I reserve judgement on that until I find out what they're
> offering other customers), and merely enriches the legal profession.
> Stupid to do this when the company in question is so obviously willing
> to fix the problem without intervention.
>
> > It's somewhat surprising that it appears you are first person to bring
up
> > this problem to them.
>
> It was deliberately concealed by the faked BIOS, which would have
> stopped many investigations right away. People running Windows do not
> have an easy way of telling that the PST only goes up to 1.2GHz, and
> they might not even know what the correct CPU speed is supposed to be;
> AMD certainly doesn't make it easy to find out. Anyone who called the
> MTS tech support line would have been given a brushoff answer. So
> there were numerous hurdles. I guess I'm just a persistent SOB who is
> lucky enough to run Linux :)  I spent about 60 minutes on the phone to
> MTS, emails to AMD, a long email discussion with an owner of the
> slower model, one letter, a few phone calls and one fax to Wal-Mart,
> plus miscellanous web research, before I got to the point where I was
> able to say "I've given you definitive proof that the product is
> mislabeled".
>
> Also, I have to admit, at a couple of points I came close to just
> giving up and saying "It's good enough, whatever, I don't believe what
> I'm being told but it'll do".
!