PC HARDWARE VENDOR REVIEW: SW Technology (a.k.a. SW Trading Company)

PC HARDWARE VENDOR REVIEW: SW Technology (a.k.a. SW Trading Company)

Post by Sy A » Fri, 29 Jul 1994 12:54:29

Quote:>Archive-name: pc-hardware-faq/vendor-reviews/swt
>Posting-Frequency: quarterly
>Version: $Id: swt-review,v 1.9 1994/07/27 21:08:44 jik Exp $

>                         INTRODUCTION


>                       ONE-LINE SUMMARY

>Avoid this company.

As we will shortly be ordering a system from SWT, I'd be curious to
hear from people who have had dealings with SWT. There are usually
two sides to every story, and I'd like to hear other reviews.

Thanks, Sy.

``It's not what you do; it's who sees you do it!''


PC HARDWARE VENDOR REVIEW: SW Technology (a.k.a. SW Trading Company)

Post by Patrick L. Vi » Fri, 29 Jul 1994 14:21:08

I purchased a VLB motherboard from them about a year ago along with a
Cirrus Logic 3-in-1 card (Video/VL-IDE/IO) VESA LB card and had no
problems at all with it. Although the observations all seem to be
reasonable... SWT doesn't appear to have people with strong technical
knowledge, but they do answer the questions asked of them. They do not
always ship working products, but they have replaced bad motherboards and
the like promptly. I have referred a few friends to this company and both
had to replace their 486VLB motherboards, but all is fine now. I am still
using my VLB motherboard I purchased from them along time ago, and I have
since upgraded to a DX2-66 (from a 33) and it is running smoothly.

You may note, however, that I have not purchased a complete system from
them nor have I spent anywhere near the amount this gentleman did.

I do plan on giving them my business in the future. If you are purchasing
video cards or motherboard (with or without CPUs) they are hard to beat
in price. I don't know if I would spend $5000 on a complete Pentium
system from them. For that kind of money I would most likely turn to
TriStar or Gateway.


PC HARDWARE VENDOR REVIEW: SW Technology (a.k.a. SW Trading Company)

Post by Jonathan I. Kame » Fri, 29 Jul 1994 06:20:23

Archive-name: pc-hardware-faq/vendor-reviews/swt
Posting-Frequency: quarterly
Version: $Id: swt-review,v 1.9 1994/07/27 21:08:44 jik Exp $


This article details my dealings with a company doing business on the
net as SW Technology (although their checks say "SW Trading Company"),
referred to as "SWT" from here on.  Their E-mail address is
s...@netcom.com; their phone number is 214-907-0871; and their address
is 251 West Renner Parkway, Suite 229, Richardson, TX 75080.  All
dealings I had with SWT were through an employee named Marvin Wu (I
don't even know if there *are* any other employees in the company,
although Wu seemed to imply that there were).

                           ONE-LINE SUMMARY

Avoid this company.

                       THREE-PARAGRAPH SUMMARY

My experience with SWT is that although they don't seem to be
malevolent or intentionally dishonest, they are incompetent
technically and in their business dealings.  They presented a
good-looking facade when I was negotiating with them to purchase
hardware, but my problems with them started on the day I sent them a
check and didn't end even when I returned the hardware and asked for a
refund.  Although it seems to me that they tried to address my
complaints and make me happy with the system they sold me, there was
simply too much wrong with it from the start.

The net result of my dealings with SWT is that I've lost about $150
and learned a valuable lesson about not taking PC hardware vendors at
face value.

I strongly discourage anyone from doing business with this company.

                           THE WHOLE STORY

I set out in January 1994 to learn how to buy a PC-compatible computer
and then to go ahead and buy one.  I planned to run Linux on it I sent
the specs of the system I was looking for to a number of different
hardware vendors, and got back a number of quotes and brochures.  On
February 2, I posted an article to comp.os.linux.help, asking specific
questions about how the Pentium CPU, the PCI bus, and SCSI hard drives
and CD-ROMs would interact with Linux.  One of the people who
responded to that posting was Marvin Wu, with the return address

On February 7, I sent an E-mail message to all of the people who had
responded to my posting in comp.os.linux.help, including
s...@netcom.com, with an outline of all the issues I was considering
and what conclusions I had (tentatively) reached.

Marvin Wu responded on the same day, suggesting that I consider
purchasing one of SWT's systems, which would meet my specifications
and come pre-installed with Linux as well.  We corresponded about his
bid for about a week, and I sent him a check (after FAXing him a copy
of it as proof of acceptance, so that SWT could begin assembling my
system immediately) on February 16.  I paid $4949 (a good price for
what I was getting, compared to the bids I'd gotten from other
vendors), plus $95 for shipping and insurance, for the system.  The
entire purchase agreement, including all the specifications, is given
in Appendix A at the end of this article.

This is where the problems started.  I will first list the problems I
had with SWT's business dealings (the problems that I consider most
significant are marked with three asterisks instead of one):

* Every mail message I sent to SWT before placing my order was
  answered within one business day.  Since placing my order, I have on
  numerous occasions waited over a week for responses to my messages.
  Other messages haven't been answered at all.  When pressed on this,
  Wu claimed that problems with SWT's service provider were making
  mail unreliable, and that since multiple people read the
  s...@netcom.com E-mail account, some messages might have been lost.
  Frankly, I have a hard time believing either of these claims, and
  besides, they don't justify the delays.

*** Wu told me on February 15, before I placed my order, "... it'll
  take 5 five [sic] working days after a firm order to ship the
  system."  I placed my order on February 16, but my system did not
  arrive until March 16.  Even assuming a full week for ground
  shipping from Texas to Massachusetts, I should have had the system
  by March 2; instead, it arrived two weeks later than that.  At no
  time did Wu send me E-mail informing me that shipment had been
  delayed; I found out about delays only through repeated E-mail
  messages asking why the system hadn't arrived yet.

  The causes of the delay in shipping my system were known to SWT
  before I agreed to purchase from them, but they still told me that
  it would be shipped five days after an order was placed.

* When SWT finally shipped my system, Wu gave me a UPS tracking number
  over the telephone (I called him because I'd received no response to
  a week of E-mail asking whether the system had been shipped), after
  flipping through papers for several minutes, with me waiting (and
  paying long-distance charges), looking for it.  I called UPS to
  check on the status of the system, and they said the tracking number
  I had was invalid.  Wu subsequently gave me the correct tracking
  number in E-mail.

* Wu told me that the machine was shipping on a Monday, and that the
  shipping company used by SWT introduced a one-day delay before UPS
  actually got the shipment (so that UPS would get the shipment on
  Tuesday).  However, when I called UPS, they said that they didn't
  get anything until Thursday.

* After I received the system and discovered that some manuals were
  missing (see below), Wu told me that he'd send one of them to me on
  March 17, but I didn't get it until a month after that.

*** When I finally gave up and decided to return the machine, both
  because of the technical problems with it and because of poor
  responsiveness from SWT, SWT agreed to reimburse me for only the
  cost of the machine and half the cost of my shipping it back to
  them.  Legally, they were entitled to do that; however, given that
  the machine never worked properly since the day I got it, I believe
  they should have reimbursed me for all shipping costs, both what I
  paid for the machine to be shipped to me originally and what I paid
  for shipping it back to them.

*** The refund check that SWT issued bounced, i.e., their bank
  returned it because there were insufficient funds in their account
  to cover it, and my bank charged me $4 for depositing a bad check.

  I called Wu on the phone and asked for an explanation.  He told me
  that he was out of town and therefore wasn't around to make sure
  there was enough money in SWT's checking account (why someone in a
  stable business would need to be present in order to ensure that an
  already-written check would clear is beyond me).  He told me to
  redeposit the check when my bank returned it, and then send him
  E-mail letting him know it had been deposited, so that he could make
  sure there was enough money in the account to cover it.

  I got the check back on July 16, and I redeposited it on July 18.
  It appears to have cleared the second time.  I've sent E-mail to SWT
  (three times) asking if they're going to reimburse me for the $4
  bad-check charge, but I haven't yet received a response (it has been
  more than a week since I first asked them about it).

The machine I purchased had the following significant technical
problems (I'm omitting some of the trivial ones):

* The Linux LILO message configured into the system was incorrect --
  it mentioned booting DOS even though DOS wasn't installed on the

* Although the purchase agreement promised complete documentation,
  there was no documentation at all about unpacking and setting up the
  system.  There was also no documentation about the various plugs in
  the back of the machine, nor was there a list of Linux device names
  corresponding to installed hardware (e.g., I had no idea what device
  my tape drive was installed on).  Furthermore, the manual for one of
  the cards in the system (the Seagate SCSI card) and for the tape
  drive were missing.

* The CD-ROM drive included with my system had some minor problems
  interacting with Linux (e.g., "workman" wouldn't start up unless a
  CD was already in the drive).  These problems were not mentioned to
  me before I purchased the system; I was assured that the drive was
  fully compatible with Linux.

* The video board included with my system had problems interacting
  with Xfree86; in particular, font restoration bugs in the Xfree86
  support made it impossible to use virtual consoles while using X,
  and made font restoration when shutting down X fail occasionally.
  These problems were not mentioned to me before I purchased the
  system, although SWT was aware of them.

* There were a number of minor errors in the installation of software
  on the system.  For example, a number of X programs were installed
  without app-defaults files, and there were several errors in the
  default user dotfiles.

* The mouse I was sold came with drivers on a 5.25" floppy, despite
  the fact that I purchased only a 3.5" floppy drive with the system.
  The documentation that came with the mouse claimed that it was
  possible to purchase it with a 3.5" floppy too, so I obviously
  should have received the 3.5" floppy rather than the 5.25" one.

*** The CPU fan installed with the system could not adequately cool a
  66MHz Pentium processor.  As a result, the system regularly
  overheated and behaved erratically or hung.  For example, the first
  attempt to compile a source file with gcc would fail with a weird
  assembler error, but the second attempt to compile the same file
  with the same command would succeed.

  Wu told me before I agreed to purchase from SWT that my system would
  undergo "a thorough test for at least 72 hours" before being shipped
  to me.  However, I find it impossible to believe that any sort of
  "thorough test" was done and did not detect this problem; until I
  installed early in April a new fan sent to me by SWT (more

read more »


PC HARDWARE VENDOR REVIEW: SW Technology (a.k.a. SW Trading Company)

Post by E. Robert Tisda » Fri, 29 Jul 1994 12:19:11

Quote:>                       ONE-LINE SUMMARY

>Avoid this company.

Thank you for the very detailed account of your dealings
with Marvin Wu and SW Trading Company.

Have you found another Linux workstation vendor
who was able to provide you with a satisfactory system?

Thanks in advance, Bob Tisdale.