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Don't get ripped off when your PC is out for repair or upgrade

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / May 10, 2007 1:28 PM PDT
Question:

My question is: When you send your computer off to a local or even big brand store to be upgraded, how do you know the items you chose (like new graphics cards, RAM, motherboards, etc...) were installed, instead of an inferior product? Also, how can you tell that your existing hardware are still the original and not swapped out by cheaper or different hardware, once it is returned from the shop for repair/upgrade? Is there something that I can do to make sure I don't get ripped off?

Submitted by John K.

Answer voted most helpful by our members

Take an inventory...

For the most part you can't ensure the correct components are present just by looking inside the case since so many different makes and models look alike. In addition, not all components have labels on them with the proper identification. Thus, the best approach is to take an inventory using a program such as Everest, which is freeware. It will analyze your PC, recording almost every component installed, along with the make, model, specs, and serial number, if applicable. Specifically, it will take care of the motherboard, processor, RAM, optical drives, hard drives, disk drives, graphics and sounds cards, and networking adapters. It will also note your keyboard, mouse, and monitor, just in case you're packing them up as well.

To get the ball rolling, install and launch Everest, then click the Report button along the top or go Report->Report Wizard. The "System Summary" should suffice, though you can choose to receive a full report if you prefer. Depending on which report type you choose the report could be quite long, so you may want to save the file to a flash drive instead of printing it.

Note, however, that this inventory is not quite comprehensive, for not all components are capable of reporting themselves via software. These items include the power supply (PSU), fans, and the case itself. The latter should be easy to identify and the fans are of little consequence unless you purchased high-quality parts, leaving you with the PSU. If you peek inside your case you should find it in the top back region of the case with a large label stating the brand, model number, and wattage. Write those down for later references.

Once you receive your computer back from the repair shop, you can repeat this process, comparing the initial report to the new one. Any components you had them install should be properly identified on the new report, while the rest should match the old. If there is a discrepancy chances are something's not kosher.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Some other things to keep in mind:

* If there is a software issue the repair shop may reinstall Windows without your permission, wiping out all of your personal files. Thus, it's always a good idea to backup what you can't afford to lose first.

* Likewise, if there are any personal/private files you don't want them to happen across, you may want to move them to a flash drive or other form of removable storage before boxing it up. They could still drudge it up off the hard drive, but it's a little added precaution.

* Always request a written work order before they perform any work on your computer, clearly stating what they will do and what they will charge. In addition, always request a receipt upon completion, stating what work was performed, what parts were added/replaced, how much was charged, and what warranties are given.

* If you are paying for the work to be done, as opposed to having it covered under a warranty, request that the old parts, if any, be returned to you. They are yours and you can always use or sell them later. In addition, if it turns out they replaced a supposedly defective part when it was indeed functional (some will report false problems just for the business) you can request a refund for the purchased part, though not necessarily the cost of labor.

* Be aware that some repair shops will try to 'do you a favor' by installing their own copy of Windows instead of your own or the one you purchased. This almost always results in licensing issues with Microsoft reporting your copy is invalid. Never be talked into such situations and be sure to call Microsoft's toll-free hotline if Windows suddenly begins telling you your copy is pirated afterwards.

And remember, even reputable repair shops, such as Best Buy's Geek Squad, have been known to perform shady practices, so never assume it'll be alright. A little caution can go a long way, particularly with an investment such as a computer.

Hope this helps,
John

Submitted by John.Wilkinson


If you have any additional advice or recommendations for John, let's hear them. Click on the "Reply" link to post. Please be detailed as possible in your answer and list all options available. Please do not assume John knows how to open his computer case. Thanks!
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Simple solution

Just web on over to the BELARC site and run the free program which inventories your computer. It provides all the detail you need to check your invoice against what is actually installed. It also gives you a complete list of you software.

Hope this helps.

Glen

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Problem with BELARC
by NorthBeachnik / June 4, 2007 3:11 PM PDT
In reply to: Simple solution

I had a problem with BELARC a couple of months ago. I downloaded and it created an inventory of my Dell Inspiron laptop. Right after that I had serious problems with my computer because BELARC had done something to my System Registry that interfered with my laptop's normal functioning (sorr, I can't remember specifically what it was that went wrong). I deleted BELARC and did a Sys Restore and everything was fine. My partner has a new IBM laptop and we would like to do an inventory but I'm very wary of BELARC and perhaps of the whole software category. Any comments and/or advice?

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Detect ripoff when sending computer out for upgrade
by wraver / May 11, 2007 11:59 AM PDT

John, Belarc Advisor may provide the detail you need. I run it whenever I update hardware or software. It provides current versions of all installed software including for instance all installed security updates for Win XP, lists all installed hardware and peripherals, processor and motherboard specs. You can download the free software at Belarc.com. Install it, run it and print a copy. Run it again when your computer is returned and compare the results to the pre-upgrade copy. Hope this helps

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Many Thanks
by dianelouw / June 1, 2007 5:30 PM PDT

Finally i get all the answer i have been asking everyone.

This Belarc Advisor is excellent!!!!

Thank you so much.....

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answer to John K .
by tbaltd / May 11, 2007 12:28 PM PDT

Dear John,
Take the cover off the body of the computer and use a webcam or a digital camera and take pictures of the system before you send it out for an upgrade. Upon getting the system returned repeat the process and compare the pictures for compliance to your upgrade request.The system can do an inventory of itself (Win.XP) but one picture is worth a thousand words.

Harvey7
tbaltd@juno.com

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learn to identify

Mark your hardware in a way that only you would recognize. Take a picture of it wherein the date and time is shown. Contact the companies whose hardware you want to use and ask them to help you identify their products.
Once you get your computer back, check it out with your pictures and memory.
Best of luck.

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Checking on installs by retailers

9:59 PM 5/11/2007
Hello;

I would go to Start/Control Panel and click on the icon appropriate to the install, and then check what was put it or, that failing, I would start serching around in Explorer "C" to see what I coud find - - and all that failing, I draw on a trick I learned when I first got my computer - - I would call my kids (in tears) and beg their help. Hope this is helpful. Have a nice day.
Sincerely,

JM Shephard
jmshephard1@msn.com

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John, it's usually not an issue ....
by Watzman / May 11, 2007 1:29 PM PDT

The question strikes me as somewhat paranoid .... there are very few items in a computer that are worth more than the cost of one hour of labor, and that doesn?t even include the time that would be required to swap them out. With very few exceptions, there is not much incentive to do this in the first place.

Beyond that, most people know (or should know) what the components in their system are. I know I have two 320GB hard drives, and two DVD burners; I know what my sound card and my video card are, what my CPU is and what my motherboard is. If any of those items (and that?s pretty much everything) changed, I?d know it as surely as if I went out to my car after shopping and it had been painted a different color or had a different color interior (or, more on point, a different model of car radio).

Changing the motherboard would make the computer an entirely different computer. Windows would have to be reinstalled more or less from scratch, an operation that would take hours.

However, if you are concerned, all you have to do is identify all of the components of your computer:

-Motherboard
-CPU
-Memory
-Video card (if any)
-Sound card (if any)
-Hard drive(s)
-Optical drive(s)

And compare what your system ?went out with? to what it came back with. There are several programs that will do that (Everest, Belarc Advisor), or you can generally get the information from Device Manager in Control Panel / System. But I don?t think that this is a huge concern. A far greater concern is that you send your system out for repair and when it comes back your DATA .... your files .... are gone. That really happens (?we had to reinstall Windows and the manufacturer?s system setup disk wipes out everything in the process), and is a good reason for not sending out a system without a backup, or even without removing the hard drives entirely (especially in a laptop) assuming, of course, that you are CERTAIN that the drives are not the source of the problem. [Most laptop service centers (not all, unfortunately) will accept a laptop without a hard drive, they have spares that can be put in and removed in 30 seconds ... it?s more problematic in a desktop where installation/removal may take a significant amount of time.]

Of course if you sent it out to have an item installed, it should be pretty obvious whether the item is or is not present. Your CPU, memory and drives are enumerated on every bootup (disable the ?fancy? splash screen and let the details show), or you can look them up in Device Manager.

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new versus old components

Hi John, My advice to you would be to ask the technition to show you the old parts, he has taken out, then if possible see the boxes the new parts have come in. Hope this helps. Regards Beryl

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You can check

This probably isn't a problem at reputable dealers, but you can check by using your system's built-in device management utility. Running this utility returns a profile of all of the hardware inside your computer, as well as attached as peripherals. Graphics cards, hard drives, USB and Firewire ports, RAM chips, and so on have the name of the device, the manufacturer, model and serial number, and other data hard coded. Thus, if you had XYZ Brand graphics card installed, the profile returned should show this. In this fashion, you can check to see that what you got is actually what you bought.

You can check this on the spot when you go to pick up your computer, if you personally delivered it: just have them plug it in and call up the system profile and go through the device list. If you've handled it through the mail you can't do this, of course, so you have a higher risk--but you can still check the system profile and compare the results against both the original advertisement and the receipt that comes with the upgraded computer.

Most dealers are reputable and reliable. They are in it for the long term, and they won't be in business long at all if they make a habit of ripping off customers. I live in a somewhat remote area and have to rely on mail order quite a bit. I'm happy to say that my experiences have almost never been negative.

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Take an inventory...

For the most part you can't ensure the correct components are present just by looking inside the case since so many different makes and models look alike. In addition, not all components have labels on them with the proper identification. Thus, the best approach is to take an inventory using a program such as Everest, which is freeware. It will analyze your PC, recording almost every component installed, along with the make, model, specs, and serial number, if applicable. Specifically, it will take care of the motherboard, processor, RAM, optical drives, hard drives, disk drives, graphics and sounds cards, and networking adapters. It will also note your keyboard, mouse, and monitor, just in case you're packing them up as well.

To get the ball rolling, install and launch Everest, then click the Report button along the top or go Report->Report Wizard. The "System Summary" should suffice, though you can choose to receive a full report if you prefer. Depending on which report type you choose the report could be quite long, so you may want to save the file to a flash drive instead of printing it.

Note, however, that this inventory is not quite comprehensive, for not all components are capable of reporting themselves via software. These items include the power supply (PSU), fans, and the case itself. The latter should be easy to identify and the fans are of little consequence unless you purchased high-quality parts, leaving you with the PSU. If you peek inside your case you should find it in the top back region of the case with a large label stating the brand, model number, and wattage. Write those down for later references.

Once you receive your computer back from the repair shop, you can repeat this process, comparing the initial report to the new one. Any components you had them install should be properly identified on the new report, while the rest should match the old. If there is a discrepancy chances are something's not kosher.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Some other things to keep in mind:

* If there is a software issue the repair shop may reinstall Windows without your permission, wiping out all of your personal files. Thus, it's always a good idea to backup what you can't afford to lose first.

* Likewise, if there are any personal/private files you don't want them to happen across, you may want to move them to a flash drive or other form of removable storage before boxing it up. They could still drudge it up off the hard drive, but it's a little added precaution.

* Always request a written work order before they perform any work on your computer, clearly stating what they will do and what they will charge. In addition, always request a receipt upon completion, stating what work was performed, what parts were added/replaced, how much was charged, and what warranties are given.

* If you are paying for the work to be done, as opposed to having it covered under a warranty, request that the old parts, if any, be returned to you. They are yours and you can always use or sell them later. In addition, if it turns out they replaced a supposedly defective part when it was indeed functional (some will report false problems just for the business) you can request a refund for the purchased part, though not necessarily the cost of labor.

* Be aware that some repair shops will try to 'do you a favor' by installing their own copy of Windows instead of your own or the one you purchased. This almost always results in licensing issues with Microsoft reporting your copy is invalid. Never be talked into such situations and be sure to call Microsoft's toll-free hotline if Windows suddenly begins telling you your copy is pirated afterwards.

And remember, even reputable repair shops, such as Best Buy's Geek Squad, have been known to perform shady practices, so never assume it'll be alright. A little caution can go a long way, particularly with an investment such as a computer.

Hope this helps,
John

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Comment on Everest
by be3sun / May 25, 2007 4:23 PM PDT
In reply to: Take an inventory...

An advantage of Everest, which might be interesting for non-US and non-UK citizens, is that you can choose between 32 (if I have counted right) different languages. I myself is very comfortable with the Swedish version. However, as was pointed out, Everest doesn't list installed software like Belarc does.
Best regards
Bengt Sundvall, Stockholm, Sweden

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Computer Repair-Shops Stealing PC Parts..... Read Inside..
by inventivemind / May 25, 2007 8:58 PM PDT
In reply to: Take an inventory...

I DO NOT, honestly beleive that any man or woman Computer Technician would ever jeapordize their business, their income (even if it's just doing side jobs)and most of all their integrity/reputation! I mean, for what? A stick of RAM? A swap of a 200 Graphic Card for a $10 one? LOL, you think a Tech would believe an owner of a $200.00 Graphic Card wouldn't recognize it missing? That's the equivalent of a car mechanic taking off real 'Spinner Rims' and replacing them with 'Spinner Hubcaps'!! Trust me, anyone into repairing computers is more than likely a passionate person whose goal to 'fix' your computer! I'm a tech, I do all my community's pc repairs.. I have quite a good customer base and right from customer 1.. my main objective is to 'fix the computer', second to that it's to 'make the customer happy' and of course then the main objective is to get a call from someone who says 'so and so told me you fixed her computer, will you fix mine.. she said you very good!' This is what a Techie is all about... Stealing parts? Swapping parts? Maybe.. Maybe... someone pretending to be a techie might do something like that..

So just make sure you take your computer to someone who knows the Techie and in the event you simply don't know anyone who knows one, just take it to Best Buy, or Circuit City pc repair area... you might pay more there than from a guy/gal who does repairs on the side but you don't ever have to worry about 'part swapping' or 'stealing' This is definitely a worry not worthy of pursuing!

if you live in ny, need a tech... email me Happy

inventiveminds at aol.com (please replace "at" with "@")

Message was edited by: admin to edit e-mail address to prevent bots from picking up e-mail address.

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Worry about the jerk, not your hardware
by PCBiker / May 26, 2007 5:24 PM PDT

I agree with your argument that it is unlikely that a tech would steal your hardware. But there is the related issue. You will find that some large nationwide stores have through corporate mandate and national advertisement committed all their stores to provide tech service, but not all their stores have the budget, qualified staff, and space/facilities to provide the committed service ... but they try anyway, on a shoestring, because it is mandated. I have worked in a few computer superstores and have noticed unqualified people trying do perform tech servie, and totally inadequate facilities. I have seen random employees 'asked' if they know how to install a hard drive and other hardware, or perform other services, and I observed the individuals not having a clue how to do it, but proceeding anyways so as not to lose face. As a customer about to yield your system to a tech service, FIRST check the facilities that the company provides to perform such service. Is there a separate tech service department and staff, or are the underpaid salesmen expected to perform such service as part of their duties. (Competent tech service people command a decent wage compared to the salesmen who might know little about troubleshooting techniques and utilities). Is there an obvious workbench reserved for use only by the tech people for service, or is the work done in the back room on some table used for other things. Does the work area look cluttered. Observe the tools available, and ask about internet access at the workbench (yes, I HAVE seen techs accept upgrade and repair jobs without any internet access available to them for downloading latest drivers and utilities). A person may not know much about their computer hardware, but there are clear indications of the competence of the place you are about to take your machine.

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Best Buy Cheated a Former Classmate of Mine
by Sue Geek / June 10, 2007 11:30 PM PDT

Actually, the techs at Best Buy did put defective and wrong parts into a laptop of a TA I once knew in college. That's why I go to a local PC store to buy and repair all of my PCs. I got so much negative feed-back about Best Buy from my fellow techies.

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Your suggestion is lacking a solution
by Ravage777 / May 30, 2007 6:00 PM PDT
In reply to: Take an inventory...

Well bud it was a nice long post but you didnt include what to do when the manager after you seek to confront because they swapped your 240 gig. sata with an 120 gig. ide drive just plain says its "not possible for my employees to do something like this".You ask why is it not possible because it did occur.Then the manager says "Because its just not possible i know my employees".Then he refuses to do anything about it,much less do an investigation or confront any employees.
This happened to me which is why my drive at this moment is an 120 gig ide and not a 240 gig sata as it should be.
I told the manager i had proof of documentation from purchase and ownership of the other drive and he said simply "How do i know thats the documentation for the drive that was installed when you brought in the computer?"
I dont see any way of prooving what your hardware is when you take it in that will legally stand up that any company i know of actually does.You see it was a compusa that did this to me and my suspicion is one of the high school tech guys they got running the show decided to switch my drive with one of thiers from home thereby getting a free upgrade thinking i wouldnt notice since i have more than one drive.
You can reply if you want but its no biggie.Just wanted to show that your method is far from bulletproof because from personal experience the argument that what you say you had and you proving that the statement is true is an undefeatable strategy to ripp you off and you having absolutely no re-course.

Ravage777

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True...
by John.Wilkinson / May 31, 2007 10:39 AM PDT

John K's question was mainly directed towards knowing if you've been ripped off, which is, unfortunately, the easy part. If you have been ripped off you can go to the manager and threaten, but if they refuse to admit fault on the part of themselves or one of their employees you're left with filing a report with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) and taking it to court, presumably small claims court. It certainly helps if you can find other victims to substantiate your claims, otherwise you're facing a he-said/she-said situation. You can have all the printouts and photographs in the world, but there's no proof you didn't remove the components before dropping it off or picking it up. Like in the automotive industry, it's difficult to conclusively prove guilt and receive reimbursement, but it can be done. First things first, though; start with a repair shop that you think you can trust instead of picking the cheapest one out of the phonebook.

John

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Kudos
by Ravage777 / May 31, 2007 9:06 PM PDT
In reply to: True...

kudos for the truth being told,the thread was listed by the site on the newsletter for the vote to avoud being ripped off i think.
Also kudos for saying your only really true re-course and option is to trust another multi-million dollar company and hope thier size is an indicator of integrity.
My suggestion for the only real effective way to avoid this situation and the needless hoping in court that you'll win a case on the judges charity,is to have your services and installations done in-home.That is the only foolproof way of getting what you need done honestly by somebody trying their hardest.
Not some fool trying for 10 min,taking a coffee break and billing you for an hour and making you wait an additionall week so its believable.Thats why i find the whole situation frustrating yet laughable.Since they can screw you with no re-course,why dont they come straight out and do it.Ain't like you can do anything about it whichever way the ball bounces.
Also in my experience its cheaper to have it done in-home anyway for many reasons.Only one of which is the hourly rate(much cheaper than best buys wanna be idiot squad self claiming to be geeks)My in-home guy so knew more than they did and on 3 seperate issues they were flat out wrong and mistaken.For 60$ less an hour and no fear of debauchery.Thats a deal in my book.

Ravage777

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No Way Get Ripped Off if:
by biggeo65 / June 11, 2007 3:15 AM PDT
In reply to: True...

Well, as I wrote to a previous post, you can't ripped off when:
a) You trust the shop and the technician

b)You already have a list of hardware been installed in your PC, using belarc advisor or device manager, and made technician sign up the list,before start the service/upgrade proccess, so that way he/she state that took notes about the hardware the PC include.

c)Learn how to install part yourself using the manuals.

If you've been ripped off, then you can't have no excuse or no prooves to identify the change of the part. And that because:
A)you went to a store you didn't knew and couldn't be sure you can trusr, TOTALY YOUR FAULT,

B)you didn't had a list of the hardware installed on your PC, so let the technician know, TOTALY YOUR FAULT,

C)You didn't got the time to learn your PC and how to install parts YOUR FAULT,

D)If you went it to a store and a part changed that THEIR FAULT, but how you can prove it?

E) You didn't went your PC to a well known store with many costumers,so you can learn from others experience that is a store you can be trust. And a big store I asure you that prefare to change the part back or give you one of equal value, than have a scandal.

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Not believable
by makinamotze / June 1, 2007 2:41 PM PDT

I'm a former employee of CompUSA and worked for several years in a few of their stores. I'm over the age of fifty and have been a businessman for decades. There is almost no way that a tech at Comp could do this. It's customary for the employees to be searched before leaving and they are pretty firm about not allowing employee owned tech products into the store. There is generally a manager in the tech shop as well, and the company does prosecute for this kind of behavior. For sure, all of the employees are not honest, but in my observations, the dishonest employees rip off the store, not the customer. Why steal your old drive when they can just as easily steal a new one with less of a chance of getting caught.

I'd look for another possibility as to how the drive went from a SATA to an IDE, particularly in a multi drive setup. I'm guessing that it would take some time to get the drive letters in the correct order if this was done.

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rip offs
by robear777 / June 2, 2007 4:42 AM PDT

IT WOULD SEEM THAT IF THERE WAS A PERMANENT DATE INSCRIBED WITH THIS DOWNLOAD IT WOULD TEND TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
DO YOU NOT AGREE?
IS THERE IN FACT A WAY TO HAVE A DATE AND, TIME ALSO, BUT MOST CERTAINLY A DATE. CAN THIS BE DONE?
robear777

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Learn to do it yourself
by gslrider / June 2, 2007 7:20 AM PDT

I know not very many people who own computers are computer literate. But we were all "illiterate" at one point in time. It's all about educating yourself. It does take a little bit of time and patience. But once you have a pretty good understanding, the benefits are all worth while.

Not only can you do the job yourself (as most jobs are installations and is relatively easy to do). But you will also be aware of what hardware is best suited for YOU. And not have to rely on a computer "sales/tech" person to tell you what you need.

Most of these people only spout what is on the box of the product. Not very many sales people have the knowledge beyond that, unless they are real computer technicians. Even some computer techs I've spoken to have tried get me to buy a product I know either doesn't suite my needs, or not practical for the cost. Everytime I shop for new hardware, I always like to see what the sales person has to say. And it's very surprising that I've come across a number of them doing pressure sales, and spouting off garbage (I usually know more than they do).

I have never once brought my system to a service place for any reason. Lucky for me, by the time I actually had to do my first upgrade, I already versed myself in installing hardware. I do all installations and maintenance myself. It not only has saved me a lot of service fees. But I know exactly what is coming out, and going in my computer system.

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Possible solution to "Your suggestion is lacking a solution"
by dynamius / June 3, 2007 12:23 PM PDT

My thought is that you might want to head off an issue like this.

Just take your own inventory, present it to the techie and his manager, and, get them to sign off on it. If they want to run their own inventory program and compare the two, let them. Just be sure they give you a copy of their results, and, make sure that they identify any specific discrepancies between the two inventories so there won't be any arguements lster on.

That way any potential discrepancies can be identified, discussed, and noted for future reference. In addition this would let the shop know that you will be looking for any discrepancies later on.

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Good suggestion
by gslrider / June 4, 2007 2:11 AM PDT

This is actually a pretty good suggestion. And to add, if they are hesitant, or fishy in doing this, say "see ya!".

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How to check pc upgrades
by ktm882 / May 11, 2007 1:43 PM PDT

Go into the control panel and look for "system." By clicking on system will usualy give you a snapshot of the processer, the ram, and the system type (32 bit, 64 bit etc.)

Furthergoing into "device manager" will give you further snapshots of what is inside your pc and running. Clicking on a particular item/icon will give you further details about what is inside the pc. It would be a good idea to do these things before you send it away and write down what was inside to start with, you can then check to see what was replaced in your machine.

Best of luck,
MJ

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System Information for Windows from Gabriel Topola
by mcchico / May 11, 2007 1:43 PM PDT

Use SIW from Gabriel Topola. I recommend the use a system information utility that can give you detailed information of your system internals including motherboard and BIOS details, peripherals, and software versions. There are several utilities - including windows system information - but I find that the system information utility from for Windows from Gabriel Topala is all you need. It is fast, very comprehensive, updated regularly (compatible with Vista) and best of all FREE. I find that using SIW gives me all the information I need every time ? including software registration keys and product Ids. What is cover is so extensive that it is best to just test it and see for yourself. Go to the website http://www.gtopala.com to download the latest version. As a final note ? and what I like most about SWI is that is just runs from the Executable single file. No installation required ? not registry entries. This makes this program ideal to run from you Flash Drives and Portable storage devices.

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Answer for John K. - Gabriel Topala is a good option.
by chf_2258 / May 11, 2007 2:02 PM PDT

I just checked out Gabriel Topola and it provides very detailed info.

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Answer for John K

Good question. Besides looking at the individual upgrades, Windows Device Manager (right-click My Computer, properties, hardware) and Belarc Advisor (free) will identify some components.

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Protecting your investment: who do you trust?

The simplest answer to your question lies at the beginning of your computing experience. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! "Let the buyer beware!" is still the underlying anthem of retailers who do not let ethereal concepts such as ethical busines practice dissuade them from making a profit. Ask yourself what it is you need a computer for, and then what do you WANT it for. The answers are not always the same. Canvass your friends and take their advice with a grain of salt. People are not always willing to risk showing themselves to have being duped, so their system is almost always "great". If you do not currently have a computer, avail yourself of the local libraries and research the brand and companies you are leaning towards. Contact the Better Business Bureau to vet your list of possible vendors. Read the ads, read whatever computer magazines you can find. Visit the shops, either local or big box but be ready to make your decision at your pace and withstand the "the sale will be over tomorrow, or it's the last one..." etc. etc. DO NOT be pressured. If you feel pressure, do yourself a favour and take time to evaluate and re-evaluate what you are being told. Computers are not "one size fits all" and you want the best custom fit that you can afford... and always buy as much computer as you can afford. Having the resources today does not equate with having all you will need in six months or more into your computing future.

Ok, you made your choice, and it's home and ready to rumble, whether the set-up is on your own or provided by the vendor. You should have a listing of all components and peripherals at point of sale. If not, demand one. When you are up and running, run the system information component applicable to your operating system and compare notes. Print it for your records, that way, if you take it somewhere for service you can run the application again and compare. If possible take photos (digital or otherwise) capturing all the detail you can... serial numbers, model numbers etc. The interior of your case should not differ after service unless you know that you had new equipment installed or older items replaced.

The bottom line is... be a savvy consumer! Protect yourself. And remember.."If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is!"

Good Luck and Happy Computing!
John K. to John K.

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your way of prooving theft is lacking
by Ravage777 / May 30, 2007 6:04 PM PDT

Well bud it was a nice long post but you didnt include what to do when the manager after you seek to confront because they swapped your 240 gig. sata with an 120 gig. ide drive just plain says its "not possible for my employees to do something like this".You ask why is it not possible because it did occur.Then the manager says "Because its just not possible i know my employees".Then he refuses to do anything about it,much less do an investigation or confront any employees.
This happened to me which is why my drive at this moment is an 120 gig ide and not a 240 gig sata as it should be.
I told the manager i had proof of documentation from purchase and ownership of the other drive and he said simply "How do i know thats the documentation for the drive that was installed when you brought in the computer?"
I dont see any way of prooving what your hardware is when you take it in that will legally stand up that any company i know of actually does.You see it was a compusa that did this to me and my suspicion is one of the high school tech guys they got running the show decided to switch my drive with one of thiers from home thereby getting a free upgrade thinking i wouldnt notice since i have more than one drive.
You can reply if you want but its no biggie.Just wanted to show that your method is far from bulletproof because from personal experience the argument that what you say you had and you proving that the statement is true is an undefeatable strategy to ripp you off and you having absolutely no re-course.

Ravage777

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