16/11/2008

Serendipity? (Part 1)

Last night I was looking at the Dick Smith website, looking for a special on a laptop I could use with hardware virtualisation (this is not just a performance issue—my work is done in a 64-bit virtual machine, and it's impossible to run 64-bit guests without HV—on VMware, at least for Intel processors; and on VirtualBox, across the board).

I found one, the HP Pavilion dv5-1004ax, which, being an AMD system, would fit the bill just fine. Only one problem: they're very short on stock on them, and they're not really generally available anymore. But the Sylvia Park branch apparently had 3 available this morning (which means, in practical terms, at most one new one; the others are demos and returns). The salesperson on the phone said he'd hold it for me, so I thought I'd go there and see.


When I turned up, the salesperson asked me to wait while he fetched the laptop for me. When he came back, about a quarter of an hour later (just how long does it take to retrieve a unit?!), I noticed that the box did not have the HP seal on it, and I queried him about it; what happened to the new one?

Apparently sometime earlier in the morning, someone bought the last new one, and he ‘thought’ that this one was new too, just that there was a customer who demanded to have a look at the unit, and that was why it was opened. I said, okay, let's have a look at the laptop; I could at least see what the state of the laptop bag seal is (if the laptop bag seal was intact, I'd treat it as completely new).

However, not only was there no laptop bag seal, there was no laptop bag at all! I thought that was highly suspicious, and told him so, and asked him what happened to the bag. He said there was none. Yeah, right! I've bought many laptops before (we currently have 7 at home, and most of them are HP), and I know better. Okay, let's have a look inside the laptop.

Two things were instantly obvious. The touchpad was full of fingerprint marks, and the screen was coated with dust. That meant only one thing: it was a demo unit! I was not at all impressed that he was trying to sell me a demo unit as new, without any discount. He said he'd talk to the manager to see how much he could knock off the price.

In the end, the most he could do was $100; he said that the manager normally only discounted $50 for demo units, and that the $100 discount was a special dispensation over the fact that I came here on the understanding that a new laptop would be available. I thought, yeah right, whatever; I was seeking a $200 discount. But I figured I'd talk to The Ferret and see what she'd say about it all.


When I went back to tell the salesperson that no can do, he was tied up with other customers, so I thought I'd look around and see what other laptops there were around. One of the ones I spotted, also selling for cheap, was the HP Pavilion “Thrive” SE dv6723tx; it was much like the “Influx” SE dv6819tx, but with a T7500 processor (which is exactly what I needed). So I asked another salesperson (let's call him salesperson 2) about it.

He told me that that was the last unit left; there are no new ones, anywhere (which I know to be a fact). So I asked him what he can do for me, in terms of discount. Initially he offered me extended warranty, and a ‘starter pack’ thrown in for free, but neither of these things did anything for me, so he offered a $100 discount. This was acceptable to me (hey, the starting price wasn't bad to begin with, and nobody tried to pass it off as a new laptop), but I'd talk to The Ferret about it first, anyway.

Upon my return, salesperson 2 was tied up with another person, and the manager (whom salesperson 1 spoke with) came by, and I explained that I'd like to buy that laptop, with the $100 discount that was agreed to. The manager looked shocked; he couldn't believe that a $100 discount was being offered, and explained that normally with display units, the discount is $50. Well, not my problem. (At $50 discount, I would have been much less willing to part with my money.)

Salesperson 2 then returned, glad that I was back to place the order. However, the manager wasn't nearly as glad that the $100 discount was being offered; it turned out that, because the laptop was already on clearance discount, the $100 discount would put the sale price at parity with the cost price. I felt really bad for salesperson 2, especially because if their staff work on a commission basis, he'd get $0 from that sale. However, far be it from me to complain about the price!

Salesperson 2 was very good-natured about it though, and was very helpful for the whole transaction. So there are definitely good people at the Sylvia Park Dick Smith; don't let my earlier section dissuade you from shopping there!


Anyway, I'm pretty pleased with my new purchase, and with the excellent service I got from salesperson 2; I don't yet have time to play with it, what with all the work I currently have, but The Ferret is drooling all over it (I said to her that if she liked the chassis of the “Thrive” one better than the “Influx” one, I'd be willing to swap with her, after swapping the CPUs). I look forward to giving it a go in a couple of days!

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