Saturday, October 8, 2011

The iPad Sale

A few months ago, 22 year old Ashley McDowell pulled into a South Carolina McDonalds to enjoy an inexpensive dinner when two men emerged from a Chevy Impala and informed her that they had an once-in-a-lifetime deal for her. They had purchased a large quantity of Apple iPad2’s at a substantial discount and were willing to sell her one at the reduced price of $300 as long as she could pay in cash.

A distraught McDowell informed the men that she only had $180 on her person but would love to become the owner of an iPad. After a brief discussion amongst themselves, the men agreed to sell the device to her for the funds she had available. Once she handed them the money, they presented her with a sealed FedEx box, quickly got in their car, and left the restaurant. Her spirits buoyed by her unexpected good luck, Ashley ate her dinner and returned home to set up her new tablet.

Sadly, when she opened the box she discovered only a block of wood with an Apple logo painted on the back along with an obviously-forged receipt from a local Best Buy. Suspecting something was amiss, she quickly filed a report with the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office giving them a description of the two men. Unfortunately, as of this writing, the authorities have not turned up any promising leads and Miss McDowell still does not have an iPad.

While the idea of electronics scamming is nothing new, the fact that the two con-men went to the trouble to paint the wood and forge a receipt leaves only two possibilities:
  • Selling to a complete stranger was Plan B after an unsuccessful attempt to return it to Best Buy for a cash refund.
  • They figured that the receipt and rudimentary paint job might buy them the extra seconds they would need to escape a beating were things to go south.
The discount "iPad"
I am impressed that the two salesmen were able to retain their composure after making the initial pitch and hearing the words, “I only have $180 on me.” The fact that they were able to feign indecision long enough to make the transaction appear legitimate is a testament to their professionalism. What would they have said if she had opened the box before handing them the money?

“This doesn’t look like the iPad from the commercial.”
“Uh….yeah…. that’s because that was an iPad2 and this is the original iPad.”
“Oh! Well that explains it.”

Given the level of detail exhibited on the device itself, I am surprised they did not go the extra mile and include a USB charging dock fashioned from a shoelace and a pair of Triscuits. The most worrisome outcome of such a successful caper is the inevitable copy-cat crimes to follow. It will only be a matter of days before we will hear about some poor college student purchasing an Amazon Kindle at Arby’s only to find out it was just a Gideon New Testament Bible with a screen drawn on the cover.   

God love poor Ashley. The only thing more embarrassing than purchasing a $180 block of wood in a McDonald’s parking lot is filing a police report publicly confirming that you purchased a $180 block of wood in a McDonald’s parking lot. Personally, I would have taken this particular misstep to my grave. After all, with no names, a vague description, and a cash transaction the prospects of restitution seem unlikely. Plus, I am certain the local authorities have assigned their best man to bring these two to justice.

I have to wonder how many splinter-wounds she sustained from the “touch interface” before realizing she was holding a 4th grader’s art project.  And who purchases something from two guys in a parking lot and waits three hours before even looking at the item? What if the box had contained heroin or a severed human finger? The only way this could have been worse is if she had called Apple tech support after several unsuccessful attempts to sync it to her iTunes account.

To Miss McDowell’s credit, at least she did not look like a sucker by purchasing the extended warranty…..

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