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March 6, 2010 3:43 PM   Subscribe

According to a customer report on the TribalWar forums, Newegg.com accidentally shipped bogus Intel i7 920 Retail CPUs. There are photos on Overclockers Forums and HardOCP. There's even a YouTube video of the fake CPU, fan and manual.
posted by stringbean (58 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
The NewEgg mistake might've been a good jumping off point for a stronger FPP about the prevalence of counterfeit products in otherwise honest markets, but this FPP's kinda boring. Couple of forum links, two links to NewEgg itself, a pretty uninteresting YouTube video, and one "article" that just links to another one of your own links.

I don't mean to be a snarkyface or anything. I'm sure your next FPP will be better. :)
posted by Mikey-San at 3:49 PM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


FWIW: before any criticism of newegg.com, I've found the company has been nothing less than sound to do business with. I've purchased roughly 8-10 products from them over the years and have had not one problem with service, packaging or product. I have no other association with them.
posted by uraniumwilly at 3:51 PM on March 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


i8 it.
posted by hal9k at 3:52 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, if you read at all carefully, it's D & H Distributing, an electronics distributor out of Harrisburg, PA, that's at fault here. Everyone's piling on NewEgg because its a well known brand, but they did nothing wrong but trust their supplier, who, I'd be willing to bet, has hitherto been entirely reliable..

It'll be interesting to hear D & H's explanation on where they sourced those CPUs.
posted by mojohand at 3:53 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here is a post from Overclockers Forums just in case anybody here received a fake CPU from Newegg:

Thank you for taking the time to post your concerns regarding your recent purchase. I would like to investigate this issue further and can promise Newegg will work toward your satisfaction in this matter.

Please contact me at 800-390-1119 ext 25092 or Joshua.L.Key[insert at mark]newegg.com so this can be investigated and I can assist you accordingly.

Sincerely,
Newegg Customer Support


On Preview:

Thank you for the excellent advice Mikey-San! Still kind of new at this...

Yes, uraniumwilly. I agree that Newegg is a solid company. I think that the problem is higher up the supply line and it would have been hard to spot the fake by just looking at the box.
posted by stringbean at 3:53 PM on March 6, 2010


For those of us who don't follow this sort of thing, what's the background to this story?
posted by KokuRyu at 3:54 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


They would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids trying to install their new CPUs.

The sticker artwork of the fan to show through the box cutout does verge on very slight genius.
posted by jamaro at 3:57 PM on March 6, 2010


As long as we're on the 'stupid hardware tricks' subject, be aware of this (going to boldface it so it stands out. Sorry if it's out of place, but it's important):

NVIDIA DRIVERS FROM MARCH 2 CAN FRY YOUR VIDEO CARD.

Apparently, the March 2 drivers have a problem where they don't spin your fans up fast enough, and can slag your card, completely destroying it.

Debated on FPPing that, but I'll settle for boldface in a hardware thread instead. :)

If you downloaded and installed drivers in the last few days, double-check to be sure they're not version 196.75. If they are, you should immediately drop back to an older version. 196.21 from last month is known good.
posted by Malor at 3:59 PM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


(there may also be a new version out, and that should also be fine, but 196.75 = possible card death.)
posted by Malor at 3:59 PM on March 6, 2010


Here's a short BusinessWeek article on counterfeit tech products.

The number of counterfeit electronic products uncovered in the defense industry alone more than doubled in 2008 to 9,356, from 3,868 in 2005, according to a January 2010 report by the Commerce Dept.
posted by Mikey-San at 3:59 PM on March 6, 2010


Oh man, I assumed by "fake" they meant "counterfeit" or remarked. It seems like they just shipped a piece of cardboard or something. The fake fan is hilarious. I mean, it's a chunk of molded foam with a photograph of a fan stuck on top
posted by delmoi at 4:00 PM on March 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


This kind of thing happens a lot, but usually in the electronics world the counterfeiters just slip their marks "not really good enough to meet specs" goods - not "this isn't quite as good as the cardboard VCRs and stereos in the display furniture at WalMart" goods
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:05 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


For those of us who don't follow this sort of thing, what's the background to this story?

I don't think there's really a background, at least that we know of yet. But basically what happened is that people bought CPUs, and when the package arrived, it turned out they got a lump of plastic with a photo of a fan glued to it, and a lump of metal with a photo of a CPU glued to that.
posted by delmoi at 4:07 PM on March 6, 2010


More on-topic: there's no reasonable way you could tell from the outside of the box that that wasn't legit packaging. Newegg just buys from distributors and resells to end-users. The test of Newegg is not, "did they ship me a counterfeit CPU", because they may not be able to directly control that, but rather, "did they make it right once they found out?"

Someone along the supply chain is going to take one hell of a hit from this. The chips probably cost about $260 wholesale, so you're talking $78,000 worth of processors from just the 300 that Newegg shipped out... and who knows how many more are in the pipe?

Those boxes clearly took some effort to manufacture, so this was a very well-organized con. And it would probably be a fairly large one, because of the up-front cost of the design and production of the boxes, pictures, and foam. Might have cost them 10 or 20 grand to set it up, so they'll have gone for a big score if they could. If they got 2,500 into the supply chain, and charged $200 each, that's be a quick half-million bucks.

This is going to be very interesting to watch as they investigate what happened. I hope they go public with all the details.
posted by Malor at 4:14 PM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I assumed by "fake" they meant "counterfeit" or remarked. It seems like they just shipped a piece of cardboard or something. The fake fan is hilarious. I mean, it's a chunk of molded foam with a photograph of a fan stuck on top

Useless objects with glued-on stickers versus functional fakes, the only difference is at what point the problem can be spotted. D&H probably got the fake boxes (so to speak) and had no idea, themselves.
posted by Mikey-San at 4:16 PM on March 6, 2010


Someone along the supply chain is going to take one hell of a hit from this.

"Bob, I told you not to buy from the dude in the alley anymore."
posted by Mikey-San at 4:21 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


NewEgg.Com: We ship tiny little products IN GREAT BIG BOXES WITH LOTS AND LOTS OF PACKING PEANUTS BECAUSE EVERYONE LIKES PACKING PEANUTS AMIRITE?
posted by Malice at 4:23 PM on March 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's no reasonable way you could tell from the outside of the box that that wasn't legit packaging.

That's why you're supposed to do spot checks...pick 5 units out of a shipment at random, plug them in, and make sure they work. If Newegg wasn't doing that before, they sure are going to have to start now.
posted by miyabo at 4:27 PM on March 6, 2010


From Newegg's Twitter:

"After investigating the issue internally it appears one of our long term partners mistakenly shipped a small number of demo boxes...

...instead of functional units. Our customer service team has already begun proactively reaching out to the affected customers."

Newegg's explanation seems a bit odd.

If you look closely at the pictures in this thread, it looks like someone in a non-English country (China?) went to a lot of trouble to make this look real enough to fool someone in the supply chain.

On Preview:

What Malor said.
posted by stringbean at 4:28 PM on March 6, 2010


I recently had to return a week-old laptop to Newegg due to hardware failure (a result I've begun to suspect is related to freshly installed nVIDIA drivers that Malor mentioned upthread). Their customer service has been great through the process. They emailed me a prepaid shipping label, so all I had to do was package everything back up and drop it off with UPS. We'll see how long it takes them to ship me my replacement, but I'm optimistic.

Spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars at Newegg over the years with no complaints.
posted by anifinder at 4:35 PM on March 6, 2010


I'm not quite sure how someone in the supply chain would get hold of "demo boxes" anyway - when I worked in consumer electronics, we would make or have made models and model packaging, but they were only ever sent to *buyers* not to for example, actual Target stores. And internet guys, like Amazon, would never even ASK for the models. I mean, they don't care. They only care about the carton dimensions for their warehouse and the quality of the photographs provided for the website.

All of this to say, it doesn't look like D&H has an actual storefront (at least their website isn't storefront-y) and therefore I can see no reason why they would have demos at all. Also, they have a twitter account, which makes no mention of this weirdness.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:38 PM on March 6, 2010


That's why you're supposed to do spot checks

Of factory sealed retail packages? I don't think that's common practice and I'm not convinced it should be.


After investigating the issue internally it appears one of our long term partners mistakenly shipped a small number of demo boxes...

With egregious misspellings, a fake instruction manual, and box artwork designed to mimic tamperproof tape? Bullshit. Absolutely bullshit.
posted by ryanrs at 4:44 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Oh man, I assumed by 'fake' they meant 'counterfeit' or remarked."

Me too; that was awesome.
posted by Mitheral at 4:45 PM on March 6, 2010


Yeah, I don't buy the 'demo units' bullshit either, that's ass-covering. But they say they'll make it good, and that's all that ultimately matters.

Still, I'm getting a Toyota vibe here....
posted by Malor at 5:04 PM on March 6, 2010


Of factory sealed retail packages? I don't think that's common practice and I'm not convinced it should be.

They could've probably, say, x-rayed it though, right?

I've never had a bad experience with Newegg. I mean, it sucks for the guys who wanted their new PC RIGHT NOW, but I'm sure they'll get replacements ASAP.
posted by graventy at 5:12 PM on March 6, 2010


Still, I'm getting a Toyota vibe here....

I'm getting a Half-Life vibe from this heat sink...
posted by stringbean at 5:33 PM on March 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Everyone's piling on NewEgg because its a well known brand,

People are blaming New Egg because they take money in return for supplying products. It's not the customers' problem to sort out or worry about supply chain issues.
posted by rodgerd at 5:34 PM on March 6, 2010


People are blaming New Egg because they take money in return for supplying products. It's not the customers' problem to sort out or worry about supply chain issues.

Uh right, but they seem to be taking care of the problem.
posted by delmoi at 5:42 PM on March 6, 2010


NewEgg has earned enough good karma along the years to get out relatively unharmed on this one. Especially since it's a processor - I'd say most people who buy separate processors have experienced or at least heard about NewEgg's customer service.
posted by qvantamon at 5:58 PM on March 6, 2010


They could've probably, say, x-rayed it though, right?

I can't tell if you're joking or not. Your average electronics retailers doesn't have an industrial x-ray inspection machine.
posted by ryanrs at 6:03 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think people are unaware of the level of automation that goes into supply chain management. AnandTech actually has an interesting walkthrough of NewEgg's warehouses. They do not show the supplier deliveries, but I would be very surprised if there was not a lot of automation through RFID tags. Especially from a "long-term partner." And that's just domestic distribution.
posted by geoff. at 6:27 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Newegg has hands-down the best reputation of any retailer, online or off, of any retail business whatsoever. My own dealings with them have been flawless, always better than expected. They usually get stuff to me several days before they said it would arrive. I have never had to return a thing.

Somebody at Newegg is going to be very unhappy this incident had their name associated with it.
posted by Xoebe at 7:05 PM on March 6, 2010


I've bought tons of stuff from New Egg over the years and have always been very happy with them, so this really doesn't affect my opinion of them (although the "demo" business is absurd). But if this were Tiger Direct, they'd be accusing the customers of fraud.
posted by words1 at 7:09 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Agreed. Newegg is a fine online retailer. Definitely more trustworthy than, say, Amazon. I have no doubt they will make things right for these customers. That said, the "demo units" line is a lie.
posted by ryanrs at 7:10 PM on March 6, 2010


Plus, do you really want to be X-raying sensitive electronic equipment?
posted by delmoi at 7:10 PM on March 6, 2010


After investigating the issue internally it appears one of our long term partners mistakenly is sticking to their story that they shipped a small number of demo boxes...

FTFT
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:12 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Plus, do you really want to be X-raying sensitive electronic equipment?

Not a problem. Semiconductors aren't especially sensitive to radiation. When you hear about radiation causing problems, that refers to soft-errors during actual operation, not lasting damage to the chip itself. X-ray inspection is very common on the manufacturing side, albeit mostly for spot checks and failure analysis.
posted by ryanrs at 7:29 PM on March 6, 2010


Newegg has hands-down the best reputation of any retailer, online or off, of any retail business whatsoever.

This feels like it should have "Imma let you finish..." in front of it.
posted by ODiV at 7:45 PM on March 6, 2010


NEWEGG GAVE ME A BLOWJOB WITH THEIR BLOWJOB MACHINE

I've never had a problem with Newegg
posted by dirigibleman at 7:52 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only problem I've ever had with Newegg is they never told me about their blowjob machine
posted by Mick at 8:04 PM on March 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


It's right to the left of the circumcision machine, I think.
posted by ODiV at 8:05 PM on March 6, 2010


NEWEGG GAVE ME A BLOWJOB WITH THEIR BLOWJOB MACHINE

NEWEGG GAVE ME A BLOWJOB WITH THEIR BLOWJOB MACHINE BUT IT WAS JUST A STICKER ON A PLASTIC BOX AND SUFFICE IT TO SAY I BROKE MY PENIS
posted by Mikey-San at 8:06 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyone that's spent a lot of time in Asia has seen the weird knockoff Sony products, and others... The spelling and grammar error on the photo of the CPU box printing immediately told me what it was. A few days ago I bought a (working, genuine) A4Tech USB webcam from a store that was stocking a lot of boxes of "LAMP Netconnect" cat5e/cat6 cable, complete with printed logo and product packaging resembling the original company.

Not direct counterfeits, but sometimes the "SOINCY" headphones can be pretty decent for 250 rupees...
posted by thewalrus at 8:28 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


One more thing I forgot... Back in the day when Intel was selling Pentium II CPUs in cartridges, a bunch of enterprising individuals in Asia bought a shipment of the cheapest available at the time (I think P2/266MHz/66MHz bus? or the 233MHz clock rate version), opened the cartridges, changed or re-soldered some jumpers so they would run at 333MHz or 400MHz. At the time the P2/400MHz was about a $750 CPU. Inkjet printing was used on the top of the cartridge to remark them to a known P2/400 stepping. Thousands of them ended up in "the channel", as the OEM market for PC parts is known.

AMD experienced remarking of K6 and K6/2 CPUs a lot too.

But I'd never seen an entirely fake CPU package, though I have seen fake USB flash drives where the end of a cheap USB cable is cut off and inserted inside a plastic shell. I've also seen a huge batch of 100% counterfeit ASUS enthusiast/overclocker market motherboards that came from China, about eight years ago, when all of the high-end ASUS products were being fabbed in Taiwan.
posted by thewalrus at 8:32 PM on March 6, 2010


Kid Charlemagne wrote: "This kind of thing happens a lot, but usually in the electronics world the counterfeiters just slip their marks "not really good enough to meet specs" goods - not "this isn't quite as good as the cardboard VCRs and stereos in the display furniture at WalMart" goods"

You mean like this NOKLA? ;)

This crap is endemic in the unlocked mobile phone market.

Part of the problem with it with computer parts is that the manuals of so many brands of motherboards, video cards, and other components are so full of engrish that the quality of the manual hardly differs between the real thing and a fake.

A friend of mine just got a fake Nokia battery that had the hologram and everything. The only difference between it and a real one was its mass (and actual capacity). He was trying to buy a 1500mAh battery. The one he got was probably closer to 500. The resemblance to the real thing was utterly uncanny. I'm sure it also lacked every bit of safety equipment the real things have, too.

Maybe is should try to get it to vent with flame. I've always wondered what that's like.
posted by wierdo at 9:44 PM on March 6, 2010


Or you mean like the "PENESAMIG" (in Panasonic font) AAA alkaline batteries I bought that squish noticeably when you squeeze them from the sides? But they were only 5 rupees each....
posted by thewalrus at 10:11 PM on March 6, 2010


The only problem I've ever had with Newegg is they never told me about their blowjob machine

It's right to the left of the circumcision machine, I think.

Jesus Christ. If that isn't a sign you want to read extremely carefully, I don't know what is.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:28 PM on March 6, 2010


Or you mean like the "PENESAMIG" (in Panasonic font) AAA alkaline batteries I bought that squish noticeably when you squeeze them from the sides? But they were only 5 rupees each....

There's an infamous series of counterfeit Rolexes in which the inside of the back cover is labeled "SHITINERAND" (say "shit in her hand" real fast) instead of "SWITZERLAND". It's just a coincidental engraving error, there's no way the people that produced them speak enough English for it to be intentional, but it makes it no less funny.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:44 PM on March 6, 2010


Metafilter: They never told me about their blowjob machine
posted by thewalrus at 12:46 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: The circumcision machine is on the left.
posted by mrbill at 1:02 AM on March 7, 2010


We ship tiny little products IN GREAT BIG BOXES WITH LOTS AND LOTS OF PACKING PEANUTS BECAUSE EVERYONE LIKES PACKING PEANUTS AMIRITE?

Not coincidentally, my kitten is a huge fan of Newegg.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:04 AM on March 7, 2010


This is hilarious... I do hope they make the details public as the investigation continues, though they probably won't for some legal reason. I'll continue shopping at NewEgg though, because I'd actually love to have to call them about this.
posted by odinsdream at 5:42 AM on March 7, 2010


Not coincidentally, my kitten is a huge fan of Newegg.

As is my styrofoam elephant.
posted by mintcake! at 6:20 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure they'd have gotten some complaints if they mistakenly shipped the circumcision machines instead of the blowjob machines. That's something the first user would work out in a hurry.

Don't know if I'd stop to look at the hologram before I unpacked a Blowmatic 2000 (tm)
posted by Sportbilly at 9:18 AM on March 7, 2010


The only problem I've ever had with Newegg is they never told me about their blowjob machine

It's right to the left of the circumcision machine, I think.

Jesus Christ. If that isn't a sign you want to read extremely carefully, I don't know what is.


Just don't reflexively click yes. Particularly not if the monitor says:

FORESKIN NOT FOUND.
REFORMAT (Y/N)
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:33 AM on March 7, 2010


It's interesting to see the number of people running around like the sky is falling screaming at NewEgg. The Egg have about the best customer service of any sites I've ordered from, and they've immediately offered replacements or refunds to all concerned, yet supposedly, that's not enough for some people... *sigh*
posted by Sportbilly at 6:04 PM on March 7, 2010


Update: NewEgg Confirms Fake Core i7s, Apologizes (PC Mag)

Newegg spokesman (from the article):

Initial information we received from our supplier, IPEX, stated that they had mistakenly shipped us "demo units." We have since come to discover the CPUs were counterfeit and are terminating our relationship with this supplier. Contrary to any speculation, D&H Distributing is not the vendor that supplied us with the Intel Core i7-920 CPUs in question."

The fine people at Newegg already sent out a number of replacement units. They are working closely with Intel and law enforcement agencies to investigate the matter.
posted by stringbean at 10:07 PM on March 9, 2010


Damn, I never expected a retailer to be truthful about something like this. It's not their nature. Good job, New Egg.
posted by ryanrs at 12:55 AM on March 10, 2010


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