I get a fair amount of email in my inbox at [email protected] from readers asking questions about how to do or fix A, B or C on their PCs. One email I received this morning got me so riled that I felt it needed to be written up here, though it's not the first time I have heard this story.
Dan from Canada wrote...
I just found your excellent tutorial for setting up a new PC and will be following it to the letter. I have one question though, if you have a moment. I'm buying a new Acer PC tomorrow morning at a local [removed]. It will be my first new PC in a number of years.
I've recently setup a new HP for a friend and it was very easy. It started Windows7 setup right away and I only had to put in the language and time zone and some other simple things. I wondered if you think this PC will be the same simple setup. The salesman is telling me I should pay almost $100 for it to be setup and that if I do it myself, I need to use Silverlight to download Windows 7 and can have all kinds of problems.
Do you think the Windows 7 operating system and all drivers will be there when I take it out of the box ? I can't seem to find the answer anywhere on the net and I couldn't reach Acer support
It's not uncommon for sales people in computer stores to try to up sell the fastest processor (because you must have this to edit photos) or their choice of anti-virus software (because all the free ones don't protect you) and these scenarios get me angry enough.
This particular salesman at a big name store who's name I have removed as the company don't have an opportunity currently to respond to this, though I will contact them and feed back to you, is a complete charlatan.
Dan was perfectly correct to expect Windows 7 and all hardware drivers to come pre-installed on a new PC from one of the major manufacturers, and indeed this would always be the case. Indeed if you want a new PC without a copy of Windows pre-installed it's actually very difficult to do and can require some arguing with customer service staff at the manufacturer concerned (a problem commonly faced by users of GNU/Linux who don't want to spend $80 on a Windows licence).
My reply to Dan was swift and pointed out that he should speak with the manager of the store and ask why there would be a charge to install an operating system that should already be pre-installed, and why Silverlight would be required to "download" Windows 7 when Silverlight will only run within Windows?
If you are buying a new computer in the sales please be very wary of these sales tactics. Have an idea of what you need and preferably seek advice from a technically-minded friend if you can before buying. Don't fall for the more expensive machine just because you want to edit your digital photographs, don't be convinced into buying expensive anti-virus or other software such as Office that you don't want (the version of Office Starter that ships with almost all new PCs is more than enough for a lot of people) and don't ever pay for a set-up charge, especially never such a large fee.
If you ever in any doubt ask to speak with the manager or telephone the company's customer support line (retail outlet or PC manufacturer) to check with them first. On this occasion I'm very pleased that Dan chose to email me in advance, he's just avoided wasting $100 on something that's quick, simple and most importantly fun to do himself.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.