Monday, September 12, 2011

Bottom feeders

I don't know why I enjoy the occasional dumpster-dive - perhaps (if you'll allow a bit of auto-psychoanalysis) it stems from a lifetime of saving:  putting money away for college, then med-school, then a house, then the kids' college tuitions et cetera.

Usually, when people dumpster-dive, they come away with a nice shirt, maybe a gaudy lamp, or old National Geographic back issues.

I got fifteen laptops.

Now, I should mention that this was no ordinary dumpster.  It was actually the electronics recycling pile at my office.  We often use prototype hardware to develop our semiconductors on and, well, these prototype laptops were a few years old.  They have very prominent stickers that have interesting phrases like "Not for resale" and "The materials used within are confidential and are not to be shared..."  It's all rather sexually stimulating really.

But there they were, all stacked in a nice, tidy pile waiting for their next owner(s).

The laptops themselves are in perfect shape, but they didn't have any AC Adapters (apparently, the lab engineers hold on to those) and the batteries, understandably, no longer held charge.

"Tish-tosh", I thought.  I can get those items myself.  To the internet!

eBay is wonderful in bringing Hong Kong vendors right to your monitor.  Herein, however, lies the crux of my problem and the inspiration for this post's title.  You can pay a fraction of the retail price for a third-party HP AC Adapter.  Which is what I did.  The item arrived and....would not sufficiently provide power.  My laptop's charge light would blink - struggling to pull electrons from the power-brick.  It had to go back.  My money (minus the shipping charge and time) was refunded.  Strike one.

"Alright", I pondered.  Let's try someone different.  Another PayPal transaction later and a few more weeks of waiting and I had a second AC Adapter to play with.

...for exactly nine minutes.  That's when the innards of the adapter decided to celebrate Independence day by detonating twice.  The LED indicator on the brick fizzled and this piece of equipment was confirmed dead.  Strike two for me.

So now, I've learned that bottom feeders do exist on eBay.  Maybe their profit margins are solely based on their shipping and handling charges - just shuffling these shiny parts that are mere moments away from the landfill.  It doesn't seem like a very solid business-model, but I'm not the one with an entire warehouse of these things (yet).  In any case, I will not be deterred.  I'm determined to find a reputable dealer for AC Adapters and batteries.  I know they're out there and I'll still get a great deal.  Once those are in place, the fun really begins on Black Friday, where I predict several deals will be had on laptop memory and solid-state drives.

Also, I'm getting over a nasty virus (that'll teach me to borrow my son's toothbrush).  So nasty, in fact, that my coughing fits actually broke my butt.  So I'm taking ibuprofen for my own bottom.  I expect my ass to be 100% in another week.

Stay healthy, my friends.


Megz said...

I'm getting pretty disenchanted with Ebay. It used to be a relatively reliable place to get cheap, used stuff. I bought a replacement phone last week from Ebay, which was claimed to be "a couple weeks old with no scratches or physical defects." "Hooray!" I thought, assuming I was getting this thing for a steal. Well, got the phone and the bezel is allll scuffed up along with the plastic around the buttons. I decided to hold on to it since it was still in better shape than the phone it replaced. I messaged the seller, asked for a partial refund and at the very least, they were kind enough to oblige. I guess these days it's true, you really do get what you pay for. BLEH. Good luck with refurbishing your laptops. You could probably sell them on Ebay as is and some poor sap will buy them.

Megz said...

Speaking of bottomfeeders... check this place out. Hong Kong, I believe... You send your order in... THEN do a bank transfer to some guys name. YEAH. I'll do that.

Taka said...

Well, the company did send a free replacement, and to their credit, I later found out I was trying this on a laptop that required a higher-wattage adapter.

But the unit still gets WAY hot even with the smaller laptops, so I've got another order for the genuine OEM part. A few dollars more, but at least I won't be burning houses down.

And as far as the laptops go, I'm pretty-much giving them out to my family. Distant cousins still in school could probably use these...

I'm such a nice guy!