I wasn’t looking to find an ad for a computer, and in the end one might say that I didn’t actually find one.
“Amazing!” the headline screamed. “Get a complete computer system for Only 3 easy payments of $99.99”
Of course, the $99.99 was in huge red type, but let’s not quibble.
So I looked at the specs:
Intel Celeron D 325 processor at 2.53 GHz. OK, the Celeron is a brain-dead Pentium, but they are less brain dead than before, and they are better than anything that AMD puts out. Besides, what do you expect in a $300 computer?
256MB DDR Memory. Not bad, 512MB would have been better but, what do you expect in a $300 computer?
80GB Hard Drive. Again, not bad.
CD-Burner (CD-RW). A DVD burner would have been nice, but what do you expect in a $300 computer?
Full 1-year Warranty. OK.
17” Philips CRT Monitor. Flat screen would have been nice, but a 17” glass tube is ok, besides, what do you expect in a $300 computer?
Lexmark Color Photo Printer. Well, companies are just about giving them away so they can screw you on the ink jet refills. Not complaining, mind you, after all, what do you expect in a $300 computer?
Speakers, modem, keyboard, mouse and USB ports. Essential items, even in a $300 computer?
Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition. Necessary.
AOL 9.0 Optimized. Wow, just like they give away for free everywhere on the planet.
AOL Office Suite. Hmmmm, Star Office rebranded. How tacky. McAfee PC and E-Mail virus protection included. Probably a 90-day version, but it doesn’t say,
Now for the good part. The computer requires a 12-month commitment to AOL at $23.90 a month. When you dig into the fine print (I actually needed both my glasses and a magnifier) we discover that the company will authorize the consumers credit card for the full purchase price of the computer, but only bill it in three monthly segments – thus tyingup one’s credit for the duration of the three months. Oh, yes, the price does nto include shipping charges or sales taxes. And, if you cancel the AOL before the 12 months are up, they will immediately charge whatever card you use to pay for AOL the remaining months, plus a $20 shaft the consumer fee. The same applies to changing the AOL price plan, so if a better deal comes along, you’d best not take it.
The systems are provided by an outfit called Systemax, which is in very tiny print, and there address is not provided, but an address in
In my opinion, this is a sucker deal of grand proportions. I have enemies I wouldn’t refer to this deal.
Then again, maybe the Guv’nor would be interested in clicking on www.myaolpc.com and putting together a deal.