...or does it? Not quite, as our CIO, out shopping incognito with a wad of
cash in Nehru Place, finds out. But when it gets there, it could change the
Team DQ identified the following three vendors of the so-called sub-10k PCs:
- HCL PC for India, adver-tised at a price of Rs 9,990
- Xenitis PC, advertised at a price of Rs 9,990
The Xenitis Apna PC was available with SD Computers, Nehru
Place. For the HCL mac-hine, we received a positive response from Spark
Techno-logy, Nehru Place. So off we went, to try and buy these machines.
Now, we could not say we were from CyberMedia: we would never
have gauged the common man's experience of buying these PCs. What a change
this would be from CyberMedia's usual IT pur-chase process, where vendors
queued up to sell their wares!
The Xenitis PC
First stop was SD Compu-ters. It took us a while to locate the building,
thanks to the uniform architecture of Nehru Place. We climbed up one flight of
stairs and descended another, to finally get to SD Computers.
A lone lady manned the poorly-lit office. Prominently
displayed, however, was the Celeron model of the Xenitis PC. We were ushered
into the proprietor's empty cabin, wh-ere a picture of The DQ Week Award was
put up to greet anyone who got that far. When we asked the lady for the sub-10k
PC, we were told that it actually cost Rs 11,000, with an additional four
percent tax. The Celeron PC on display would have cost us Rs 13,000, with four
percent tax to be added to this figure too.
We expressed interest in the 11k PC. The lady had clear
instructions, it appears: we were told that the VIA processor was no good. It
would support Dot Matrix Printers alone, would not run Visual Basic Scripts (!)
and was not really the right choice for an office. My colleague and I went into
a huddle and, as planned, emerged, insisting that the 11k PC was what we wanted-we
would merely be using it for mass-mailing and a bit of browsing.
Although madam relented, we were made to understand that it
would take 24 hours to deliver-no ready stocks. Also, cash advance of Rs 1,000
had to be paid for "booking the machine"! We looked suitably
uncertain, expressing doubts about prompt delivery. We repeatedly asked the lady
whether we would definitely get the machine tomorrow. Sensing our uncertainty
the lady reacted by calling up "Kapilji" and somebody else too, before
finally expressing her deepest regrets and her final opinion that the machine
simply could not be delivered any earlier. In her experience, the VIA proces-sor
was not popular at all and, therefore, they usually did not have ready stocks of
these machines. Supplies too were very irregular.
We paid up the money, collected the receipt and the lady's
visiting card, extracting the promise that it would be delivered at our Delhi
address the very next day...
All this anxiety made us very hungry. It was while we were
having Rajma Rice at the popular Sona Sweets that the lady's call came in. She
wanted us to know where we had read that the machine is shipped with LINUX OS.
She told us we were mis-informed: why, the machine could not run LINUX, (!) it
would run Windows 98 alone! So, did we still want it? We did not budge, so she
let out the next bombshell: the machine "may not" be available with a
30 GB hard disk as advertised. However, it would be available with a 40 GB hard
disk, at an additional Rs 500 (no tax on this amount). We stuck to our guns.
The machine did not arrive. We were told that it would be delivered
"tomorrow before 12:00 noon without fail".
Office assistant picks up lady's cell phone. She's left it behind. No, he
has no clue about delivery. Second call: assistant tells us she's not coming
back today. Third call: No pick up.
Despatch my colleague to SD Computers to take delivery or take refund. Dealer
says: Distributor has only one piece and it's faulty so please buy the 13K
Celeron instead. No, we said, No! Well. "No cash available for 1k
refund." Another trip to Nehru Place next week...
Finally located and called another dealer, Enfotech in Laxmi Nagar, who
said: stocks available, and he would deliver. Delivered against cash, same day.
HCL PC for India
Locating Spark Technology was not easy either. It is never easy for a
newcomer to Delhi to find his way about by asking people on the street. At Nehru
Place this syndrome gets to more pronounced, thanks to the Dilliwala's
fiercely-competitive spirit. None of the computer shops personnel had ever heard
of Spark Technologies, even though it was in the same building as their own
shop! Ultimately, we got the directions to Spark from a cigarette shop.
Just as we reached Spark, the power cut lifted. Not a moment
too soon either! After a welcome 10-minute break (during which our ears stopp-ed
ringing) we were told that the HCL PC for India (adverti-sed at Rs 9,990, along
Mr Maran's picture) would actually cost us Rs 11,600, all taxes-paid. We asked
to see the proprietor, who then explai-ned how it worked:
Basic cost of HCL PC =Rs 9,990
Tax @4% = Rs 400
Installation Charges* =Rs 1,250
Total = Rs 11,640
*However, the purchase includes neither delivery nor
So you see, we were actually getting a discount of Rs 40! And
oh, does the advertised machine come with LINUX? Sorry, no software comes with
the machine. Moreover, if we were under the impression that the installation
charges of Rs 1,250 meant that the machine would be delivered and set up at our
site, sorry-we would have to pick it up then and there!
The proprietor also assured us that the machines were at the
moment readily available. However, with hunger pangs hitting us bad, we sneaked
off to Sona for the Rajma Rice. On our return, we found that the proprietor had
disappeared. In his place we had a young salesman, who insisted that there were
absolutely no stocks of the "sub-10k PC". We were rattled for a
moment: so certain were his tone and language! When we told him about our talk
with the proprietor, he imperiously asked us to wait, while he "checked
up". About 15 minutes later (he was in plain sight of us during this time,
busy on the phone all through) when we asked him "Kya Hua?" he came
close to an apology: Yes, the machines were available, sorry he had just come in
to office and gosh, were we lucky that fresh stocks had just arrived! He
elaborated that supplies were erratic and that they got sold out almost
immediately. We tried to look suitably grateful and paid up the full amount. A
half-hearted question about discounts was met with a sneer, so we let it pass. A
total of 15 minutes for preparing the bill and instruc-ting the packing
department and there we were, the "sub-10k PC" at our feet! With a
feeling of impending dread, we enquired whether he could depute someone to
deliver the machine to our vehicle. Luckily for us, he was able to quickly
arrange two people to carry the CPU and monitor to our vehicle. Since our
vehicle was parked about 1,500 feet away, the "installation charges"
worked out to about a Rupee for every step! But obviously, we were in no mood to
S Nambiath, CIO,