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Kingston and PNY Caught Bait-and-Switching Cheaper Components After Good Reviews 289

An anonymous reader writes Over the past few months, we've seen a disturbing trend from first Kingston, and now PNY. Manufacturers are launching SSDs with one hardware specification, and then quietly changing the hardware configuration after reviews have gone out. The impacts have been somewhat different, but in both cases, unhappy customers are loudly complaining that they've been cheated, tricked into paying for a drive they otherwise wouldn't have purchased.
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Kingston and PNY Caught Bait-and-Switching Cheaper Components After Good Reviews

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  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:12AM (#47253861)
    It amazes me when companies sell down their good name. It takes a lot of time and money to earn it, and it never brings in as much when you do this. So not too more companies on my "avoid" list. Luckily there is a lot of competition.
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:16AM (#47253899)
    It's surprising. Kingston? I thought they were a good brand.
  • by Striikerr ( 798526 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:21AM (#47253939)

    When a company pulls this kind of trick, they are dead to me. I don't understand why companies think that they will get away with such actions. It may slip through once but it only takes one time getting caught and then people will start looking back at past hardware releases to see if they did the same thing before. The damage to a company's reputation can be devastating, all to earn some extra profit.. Such a shame.

  • by Zanadou ( 1043400 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:24AM (#47253953)

    As my Father used to say:

    "You're not actually sorry for doing it, you're just sorry for being caught doing it."

  • This is fraud. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:30AM (#47254019)

    False advertising etc... Doubtless they've found some legal loophole to let them get away with it but it shouldn't be tolerated.

    Sue them. Let the lawyers latch onto their faces and lay lawyer babies in their stomachs that will after a short period burst out of their chests to fill the world with yet more lawyers.

    These guys have it coming. You don't cheat your customers.

  • by crow ( 16139 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:37AM (#47254113) Homepage Journal

    So the solution is that the professional reviewers at places like C|Net or ArsTechnica need to have a policy of redoing their testing on older models when newer models are released. If they find that the older model no longer performs as they originally reviewed it, then they need to loudly warn that the manufacturer is known for reducing the quality of the product without announcing a change.

  • Immoral and Naive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:41AM (#47254153)
    I would like to see the paper (email really) trail where these companies plotted to screw over consumers. After all, there is no way that this happened by accident and being deliberate means communication. I thought highly of these brands until now. Now I can only wonder how long this has been going on and how many product lines are affected. They have lost my loyalty and cannot earn it back. I will warn everyone I know to avoid all of their products and I will explain why. I have a feeling this is going to snowball into a much more publicized scandal. I just hope I don't find out any of my still currently beloved companies have been committing the same fraud.

    Also, I say naive because how could they have thought in this day and age that they would not get busted? I guess they were blinded by the dollar signs in their eyes.
  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:44AM (#47254193) Homepage

    Why do you figure? As a top-ranked Amazon reviewer familiar with the reviewer "community", a hell of a lot of reviewers will give only positive reviews because they are afraid that any negative comments will stop the flow of free electronics and media coming. A lot of reviewers make a decent living eBaying products that we are sent gratis with a request for a review.

    Plus, when you are getting a steady flow of free stuff to review, you are busy enough with the latest arrivals that you don't want to spend time going back and reworking a review you've already written. That's already ancient history for some.

    I imagine these same problems exists at many independent tech review sites too.

  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:49AM (#47254237)

    Electronics are produced in batches. Given availability of various components, each batch will not be identical. This is nothing new. As long as the new components still meet the same specifications, the consumer hasn't been harmed. Now if the intention of the company is to build a fast model specifically for review and substitute an inferior product for the mass market, that could be fraudulent. On the other hand, at the time of review, if the current model was all built with those components, then the review is valid.

    We are talking about consumer grade products here. If you buy a name brand laptop and then the identical laptop six months later, it will very likely have different chipsets and versions of roms. There are companies that will sell business grade or even military grade, where all components are guaranteed to be the same regardless of when you buy it. Those usually cost a lot more.

    So is there evidence that Kingston and PNY were being fraudulent or is it simply variations between batches? What's the real story?

  • by satan666 ( 398241 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @10:57AM (#47254323) Homepage

    I cannot for the life of me fathom a company, in this age of internet and instant news, doing this. I have purchased some things from Kingston before and I was fine with the company. However, after reading this, they are on my lifetime shit list. That is also true for anyone reading the story. And you can bet that Digg, reddit and a few other popular sites will be running the story shortly.

    In other words, Kingston is fucked, with a capital F.
    Even if the company president comes over and cleans my house for a month, the bad name will prevail.
    These guys are morons.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @11:01AM (#47254379)
    Don't be an idiot; Nobody expected Joe Public to boycott Sony over the rootkit thing, the OtherOS thing, or the myriad of other shady things they've done; They're too ubiquitous in their sectors.
    "Hey, I'm thinking of getting a game console, PS4 or XBox One?"
    "NEITHER! Consoles are DRM laden privacy invading boxes of Satan! Buy a PC, run Linux, be happy with indie games!"
    "Uhhh... PS4 then."

    However, boycotting Kingston on your recommendation is very easy to do.
    "So I'm looking to upgrade my PC. Any recommendations?"
    "More RAM! Oh, I told you that one before? Ok then, put in an SSD. Intel, Samsung, Crucial, Corsair, G.Skill, OCZ, SanDisk, Toshiba, and Zalman are all reputable brands. In fact, for what you're going to be doing with them, pick any brand but Kingston for your budget. They were caught shafting consumers by swapping cheap parts into their high end stuff after reviews were published."
    "Ok, not Kingston. Got it."
  • by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @11:16AM (#47254493)

    Thanks for elaborating. It's all clear now... PNY only created a single SSD in production with a completely different controller and firmware. It's like a practical joke played on the customer, and he should laugh instead, since PNY spent all that money to send him the only SSD of that model ever to be made with a Sandforce controller.

    Damn witch hunts!

  • Not subtle at all (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @12:40PM (#47255235) Homepage Journal

    But it's "technically not a scam" because they "technically never promised such a good deal", they just accidentally happened to give reviewers a good deal.

    It's a scam and they're liars. It's really as clear and un-subtle as that. When they deliver a review unit, the expectation is that it will be representative of the products that end users will by buying. They'll have gone over it with a fine toothed comb, sure, to make sure it doesn't have any obvious defects. But the nature of a review is that the reviewer will be getting the same product that you and I will. Without that implicit contract, the whole concept of a review is utterly worthless.

    In fact, Kingston and friends burned their reviewers' reputations, not just their own. If I buy something because Joe Smith says he liked it and it turns out to be a piece of junk, I'll never trust Joe Smith's opinion again. If I'd written about one of these units - particularly for a major review site - I'd be raising holy hell, warning all of my readers, and distancing myself from it as far as possible. It'd be along the lines of "Kingston lied to me and I passed it along to you. For that, I am very sorry, and I will never review another of their products." and updating the original review to add a giant red disclaimer and explanation at the top.

    This isn't subtle. It's a flat-out lie to customers and can only reasonably be seen as such.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @01:16PM (#47255585)

    In fact, on top of the simple dishonesty, it's insulting that they assume we buy products on the basis of reviews but don't bother to measure them, or aren't aware enough to notice performance differences ourselves. We're not idiots.

    I don't think some people are really appreciating the real import here. It it was done deliberately in order to deceive consumers, then it's not just "selling down their name", it's almost certainly FRAUD. A crime.

    I may not be an lawyer or a prosecutor, but if I were, I'd probably be going after them. And if I were a judge, I would make it a point to be harsh on them. This shit has gone too far.

  • by Predius ( 560344 ) <josh,coombs&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @01:37PM (#47255821)

    The drive did go into read only, until power cycled. As documented.

    I get the planned obsolescence gripe, but it didn't lock out until over twice it's advertised write capacity had been burned through, and again, at no time did it corrupt data. You light the fuse with the first write and advance towards the time bomb with each additional one, so planned or not the drive only has a finite life span. Would you prefer the Samsung's failure mode instead?

  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @02:48PM (#47256565)

    I too don't understand why they design a good device then cheapen it by cutting corners.

    Corners cost money.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley