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Spotting a Fake USB Drive from eBay

So I bought a “64GB USB FLASH DRIVE USB 2.0 PEN STICK MEMORY 64GB” from eBay for $23 shipped from China a few weeks ago, and it just came today. I was skeptical, because I’ve had experience with getting incorrectly sized flash memory from those Chinese eBay scammers.

I found this guide, which says

It’s one thing to be sold the wrong size drive, but these “hacked” drives which appear on your computer to be the right size, actually corrupt your valuable data to make it look like it fits on a much smaller capacity memory chip.

I followed their guide, and sure enough, my 64GB drive is closer to 20GB, or 21,850,329,088 bytes. The first file after this amount looks like this:

So I filed a claim on eBay, hoping to get this refunded. Turns out the seller’s account “no longer exists”. Meh. Moral of the story (which I should have already known): if it looks to good to be true, it probably is.

Edit: Ebay gave me a full refund. Hoorah.

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Getting the Best Deal from Best Buy

I’m looking at buying a new laptop soon, an Asus G71Gx gaming grade laptop. It turns out Best Buy has the best price on this laptop. As someone who would rather pay less when possible, I began to seek out cheaper alternatives than paying $1300 +tax for this notebook.

First off, see if there are any better prices out there. Traditionally, Best Buy is not the best source for cheap systems.

Next, I live in Vancouver, Washington. We have a 7.7% sales tax. Right across the border is Portland, Oregon — 0% sales tax. That’s instantly going to save me $100.10. In order for this to work, you have to go into the store, not online; unless of course you’re willing to just have it shipped to someone who lives in Portland.

Next, search for coupons for Best Buy. These are somewhat rare, but there are some 10%-off-anything coupons that surface from time to time. Make sure that what you are buying falls into the “acceptable categories” as explicitly noted on the coupon. Can’t find any currently.

Next, find gift cards. Ask your friends if they have any they want to sell. Look at online for sale forums. Check eBay. As long as the person selling the gift card is reputable, this is a great way to save money. For example, I just purchased a $250 Best Buy gift card for $238 buy it now -$23.80 for Bing cashback, -$4.76 for eBay’s cashback incentive plan, -$2.38 because I paid with PayPal through my credit card. That makes the final price for this $250 gift card $207.06; a 17.18% discount.

Next, as I mentioned previously, pay with credit card (assuming you pay it off, and have a cash back incentive plan). This is an easy 1-2%.

Finally, don’t accept any upselling that Best Buy will try on you. You don’t need the extended warranty, you don’t need the new peripherals. Don’t be a sucker for their highest margin area of the business.

With these principles applied, I’m going to take a $1400.10 laptop (including tax) and get it for $1084.80 (5*207.06 + 50 – 0.50).

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iPod listing removed by eBay

So with about an hour left in the auction, I get this e-mail:

Dear raybdbomb,

Thank you for your recent auction-style listing on eBay. Unfortunately, we removed the following item(s) for violating our Unauthorized Copies (Copyright) policy:

5858934628 – SILVER MINI IPOD 4GB MP3 W/SONGS NR LIKE NEW NICE COND

The following information may help explain the reason for your listing(s) removal:

eBay prohibits unauthorized copies of media (such as software, video games, music, television programs, and photographs). Unauthorized copies include (but are not limited to) backup, pirated, duplicated, or bootlegged copies. It is both illegal and against eBay policy to sell unauthorized copies of copyrighted media.Only copyright owners and their licensees are permitted to offer their products copied onto recordable media (such as VHS tapes, audio tapes, CD-Rs and DVD-Rs). Members offering any type of recordable media must state their copyright ownership or license to resell these items and be able to prove it to eBay.For more information on Unauthorized Copies (Copyright) visit the following Help page:

http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/recordable.html. Your eBay fees for this item have been credited to your account. All bidders on this item have been notified of its cancellation.

So… now I get to relist it WITHOUT mentioning the fact that there are songs on it. Hoorah.

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