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The PC drops to 10k...

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DQW Bureau
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...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

market

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
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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

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Day-1:



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.

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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.

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Day 2:



The machine did not arrive. We were told that it would be delivered

"tomorrow before 12:00 noon without fail".

Day 3:



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.

Day 4:


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...

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Day 7:



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

with


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:

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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

installation

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

complain!

S Nambiath, CIO,

CyberMedia

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