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September 28, 2020

That Computer Tablet From China May Not Be Up to Spec

Filed under: Computers,Electronics,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:18 am

This is the story of a guy who bought a couple of computer tablets on eBay from China and got less than he bargained for.

Phil S. wasn’t a stranger to buying on eBay, and had purchased many computer items from sellers in the USA, China, and other countries around the globe. Phil was also a “power user” and adept at resolving just about any problem that he came across since he used to run a computer store.

Last month, he saw a tablet being offered by a highly-rated seller with excellent specifications like Android 9, a ten-core very fast processor, and tons of ram and storage. So, he bought two of them.

Phil ad pic

The tablets arrived from China a few weeks after ordering them. A quick double-check of the specs according to the “about” section of settings revealed he got exactly what he paid for, an even got an Android upgrade to version 10.

Phil tablet fake specs

However, when he started using the tablet, he noticed problems immediately. There was something off. The specs claimed that the unit was running Android 10, but the screen had the exact appearance of Android 4.4. The units seemed slow. After running a few tests, he found that they were old units hacked to appear like new, high capacity fast tablets. In other words, the seller or his henchmen went into the “about” page on the tablet (shown above in the black picture) and actually changed the wording that it displayed.

Using some sophisticated sniffing tools, Phil found some of the real specs of his tablets.

*Mouse Print:

phil actual specs

The fraud pervaded every specification that the seller had listed, speed, resolution, capacity, processor, and software version. For example, the resolution was not the 2560 x 1600 promised, but only 1280 x 720; and the processor only had four cores and not 10.

When Phil complained to eBay, they refunded his money. But he wanted to warn others about this scam. If you see ads online for no name computers with great specs but at ridiculously low prices (Phil’s tablets were only $69), you might want to think twice before hitting the buy button.

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9 Comments

  1. Sixty-nine bucks? “Power User” Phil forgot a powerful adage: If it looks too good to be true…

    Comment by Marty — September 28, 2020 @ 6:34 am
  2. Self-described “power-user” like most of them are. It had to be explained to him not to buy a no-name tablet from China that was that cheap, smh

    Comment by Dave — September 28, 2020 @ 11:00 am
  3. I ran into a related problem ordering USB 3.0 flash drives on-line made in China. The actual capacity of the drives turned out to be only a small fraction of that advertised, though you couldn’t tell that by simply checking the capacity with Windows standard utilities which reported the advertised capacity.

    But if you tried to put data on the drive, it would “wrap around” destroying earlier data long before reaching the rated capacity.This, of course, could be disastrous if you did so unknowingly,trying to save critical data.

    Again, the price should have been a clue.My bad.

    Comment by JonK — September 28, 2020 @ 11:08 am
  4. Well his first problem was going with Android over Apple. Plus, $69 is best described as a tablet price too good to be true. I don’t feel sorry for this person.

    Comment by Michael Bryant — September 28, 2020 @ 12:28 pm
  5. I disagree with the above posts… just because the tablet has a cheap US price, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a scam. The older parts cost almost as much as new ones in China. Someone just pulled a scam (these tablets were not made, but probably found laying around for years).

    Anyway, things happen. Did Ebay return the money over the objection of the “high rated seller” or did the seller realize they were scammed and issue the refund (and pull all their other stock).

    Big difference IMHO

    Edgar replies: Robert, all the consumer told me was that eBay gave him a refund and he did not have to return the tablets.

    Comment by Robert — September 28, 2020 @ 2:22 pm
  6. eBay refunded Phil’s money, but if eBay was true to form, it did not throw the seller off the site.

    Comment by hmc — September 28, 2020 @ 2:46 pm
  7. This is a classic case of buyer-beware, but I suspect if Phil is a power user that he may have suspected from the beginning that the tablets were not on the up and up. It’s really a no lose situation for him, either he gets the tablets as promised which would be an insane value, or he goes for a refund.

    Comment by Joel — September 29, 2020 @ 9:14 am
  8. The problem is that a lot of these online eBay sellers are drop shippers – the item never passes through their hands so THEY may even be duped and scammed by the supplier on the other side of the transaction. It’s hard to tell from the listing sometimes whether the item is being drop shipped. I have said this before on this board but I avoid anything that’s obviously being shipped directly from China and anything with a price that’s too good to be true. So far that wisdom has served me well after making a mistake.

    BTW, this wisdom also applies to surgical masks. I paid for KN95 masks, and they were labeled as such and shipped from China. They did not pass the YouTube suggested “water test” to determine their quality. Believe it or not, the similar masks I purchased at Ocean State Job Lot passed the water test even though they were not labeled as KN95 masks. Man you have to be careful!

    Comment by Renée — October 2, 2020 @ 8:23 am
  9. It’s great to read the comments here about my experience. (Fyi, there’s no official agency that bestows the title “power-user,” so power-users are indeed self described.) THE POINT of this isn’t just “if it’s too good to be true” (which it’s not), but that when buying anything-anywhere-anytime, it’s incumbent on the buyer to (a.) verify that what you got is what was represented, and (b.) buy from places (virtual and bricks-and-mortar) that offer real guarantees, and (c.) understand that on eBay, the customer can almost always win a dispute. The comment by Joel was 100% accurate – I’ve bought a lot of stuff on eBay, and filed a fair number of disputes. I’ve won every dispute without any problems.

    NOW… a geeky answer about the “if it’s too good to be true” comments: In Android, one can root the device and then reallocate more ram using the device’s internal storage (flash) memory. While this will probably slow down your device, it can also provide you with the ability to run some memory-hogging apps. This was particularly good for devices that had only 1gb of ram (and yes, I’ve done this, but unless you’re ok with the possibility of bricking your device, this stuff isn’t for the casual user).

    So, in reality, with flash memory being so incredibly cheap, these tablets were a good price, but definitely not too good to be true. When I started searching, I was expecting to pay about $15 more – around $80.

    Comment by Phil S. — October 5, 2020 @ 9:11 am

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