11 of the Biggest Rip-Offs in Tech
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) You just bought a new flat screen, and now you're considering a fancy-looking $45 HDMI cable that promises the best picture. On the shelf near it are half dozen antivirus programs for $50 a pop, and you wonder if you need it for your MacBook, that needs some new memory, which will cost $200 at the Apple store. But that might all have to wait, because the extended warranty for your flat screen is $300.
The problem with all these options? They're some of the most unnecessarily expensive things you can waste your money on.
Understandably, shopping in the world of tech can be confusing. So below, we've listed 11 of the biggest rip-offs in the tech world and their alternatives so you can save some cash.
1. Computer Tune-Up Services
For $50, Best Buy's Geek Squad will walk you through problems already answered by numerous tutorials available everywhere online for free. These online-only "service options" are incredibly basic and include creating user accounts, installing Windows updates and creating shortcuts.
"Purchasing third party tech support services such as Best Buy's Geek Squad or Staples' EasyTech is like paying a stupidity tax for your tech ignorance," says Avram Piltch, online editorial director for LAPTOP magazine. "If something is truly broken, deal directly with the manufacturer."
But if you just want to speed up your PC, grab some free software. For example, CCleaner can spot and stop useless, system hogging programs that may be auto-running on startup.
2. Paying for Antivirus Software
Consumers spent $4.5 billion dollars on antivirus software in 2011, according to Gartner numbers crunched in a report by Imperva. However, paying for antivirus software doesn't mean you'll absolutely stay virus-free. Abbey Dieteman, co-founder of the company Dieteman Technology, which provides IT assistance to small businesses, had one customer who found all this out the hard way.
"We had one customer that had to have her computer reformatted due to a virus and lost her paid antivirus software in the process," says Dieteman. "They wouldn't refund her money she had paid for a year up front only give her a credit for software she didn't want."
Instead, free software like Microsoft Security Essentials, Avast! or AVG will give you free protection. Just don't download and install the entire Internet.
3. Xbox Live Gold
Unless you're a hardcore gamer, Xbox Live Gold is a terrible product. You can't access any streaming video apps from your Xbox, like Netflix, unless you pay the annual Gold fee of $49.95.
Don't pay more just to access apps you pay for from your Xbox 360. Get a Roku LT for a one-time fee of $40 instead.
4. Your Carrier's GPS App