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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Watch out for GainSaver Scam

My company's iMac broke this past week and we needed to buy a new mac.  Our bank account only has less than $1000 in it so we opted to look for the cheapest mac which is a mac mini.  On Amazon it is cheaper than $699.  With free shipping and no tax it comes out cheaper than an educational discount (10%) at the Apple Store.  That sounded like a good idea until another member of our company found GainSaver.

GainSaver is a website that sells used macs for VERY cheap.  We saw a mac mini 2.0 ghz for as low as $389.  You can customize everything from the harddrive space to the ram to the airport card.  They say they check every piece of hardware that comes in so you're guaranteed to get a good piece of hardware.

The total price of our mac mini would have been about $500 (with 2gb of ram and decent harddrive space).  But wait.... A couple things weren't quite right.

They have a 10% off special that ends "tonight at 10pm".
Yet we were ordering at 11pm HST.  Clicking on the details of the special revealed that the special was available until January 2012.  A bit shady if you ask me.

Diagnostics Testing (optional upgrade for $25)
With this upgrade GainSaver says "Make sure your equipment has passed our rigorous Diagnostics Testing program. GainSaver thoroughly tests all of your computer's critical hardware components before shipping."
Uhh.... so if we don't want to spend an extra $25 for diagnostics testing will we be getting untested hardware even though the site says "... been fully tested and certified by GainSaver's trained Apple technicians to verify every major component is in 100% working order" .  Things were getting fishy.

Doing some research we found a site,,  that complained about not receiving their product, but also not getting charged for it.  The author suspected that they were just out to get his credit card information as their customer service was not very helpful in getting him his order.  He also posted on an Apple forum where he got some supporters and a fake glowing review of GainSaver.  Company's often find bad reviews of their service and post a fake review saying how great the service was.  No one on the forum was fooled.  Apparently, that fake post was just a small sample of what they can do...

Fake Reviews
Another website called Reseller Ratings lets users post reviews on reseller sites.  It showed that GainSaver's overall rating was a 8.13/10 (or 4/5 stars).  Note that this rating is as of 4/20/2011.  There were posts of customers not receiving their product, getting the wrong item, and basically having no real customer service.  There were also posts of 5/5 stars saying they got their product for cheap and got it on time, etc, etc.  After reading through the first page I wanted to see the older posts because maybe they were really bad when they first started and cleaned up their act recently.  So I clicked on Page 4 which I thought was the last page (it's the last page next to the arrow).  This is where I read a really shocking review:

There is something VERY wrong with's system. In the first 3 years of reviews for, a total of 80 reviews were posted, nearly all of them negative, and until November 2010 their overall customer satisfaction rating was ZERO. (

Now, 3 months later (as of 2/15/11) there are nearly 400 reviews. About 200 of them were posted on just 2 days (1/21 and 1/21/11) virtually all of them glowingly positive. And miraculously their rating is now 8.15. What's wrong with this picture?

The dozens of negative reviews consistently report the same problems:
1. Products unavailable at advertised prices followed by a "bait & switch" offer for more expensive products
2. Products arriving broken or else they malfunction within weeks
3. Unresponsive, rude customer service
4. Products, refunds and "rebates" never arriving or requiring much time and aggravation to resolve
5. Customers being stuck with return shipping cost for damaged goods or company error

There is clearly a pattern here.

I have placed 3 orders for multiple Mac Minis & imacs for a youth program. Each time Gainsaver has canceled the order, saying that the products were not available then quoting me a much higher price for the same items with very minor upgrades. When I said that I wanted the computers I ordered for the price listed on the website, not the $200 more a piece that they tried to charge me, the sales rep laughed and said "You'll never get them for that price". So why have they continued to be listed on the website?

After reading this, I looked back in the history and saw for myself that on January 20-21 there were pages and pages of 5/5 star reviews.  Looking at the history of ratings it showed that from January 2011 the ratings picked up.  I'm posting it here because in a couple of months the chart will no longer show the  jump from 0/5 to 5/5 in 1 month.  The top bar is April and it goes all the way down to October.  October and November had very bad customer satisfaction and likelihood of future purchases.  December/January it jumped up.  GainSaver will probably have a much better rating in a couple months because the rating only goes back 6 months.  Once that happens they'll have a lot more credit cards.

More Fake Reviews
GainSaver is an accredited Better Business Bureau business.  How?  Maybe it's because they resolve all their BBB complaints, but really, I have no idea.  The reason I bring up the BBB is that they have a "TrustedLink Community" that hosts customer reviews of their own.  And of course, on this site you see GainSaver as having 4/5 stars for their 95 reviews.  However, you still see the mass of complaints with 1 stars.  How did they do this?

We start by going back to April 3, 2009.  The start of the "5-star-review employee".  I went to the last page (the actual last page this time) and started looking at the dates for all the 5-star reviews and noticed a trend.  From the first Friday in April (4/3/2009) through the last Friday in May (5/29/2009) you can see a 5-star review for almost every weekday.  None on the weekend.  I estimate about 35 to 40 5-star reviews in this time period alone.  So in their 2 year history about 40% of the reviews came in those 2 months.

We bought the mac mini from Amazon.
Apple Mac Mini MC270LL/A Desktop
Well, after all that we went straight to Amazon.  There's no price on reputation.  Just knowing you'll receive your product within a week, knowing you can contact customer service and talk things out, and knowing you can return your product if you're not satisfied is worth a small premium.  It's one thing to look for a deal, but you need to be careful.  I decided to write this post because it's the first time I've seen a scam for myself.  It's usually in news articles, forums or a friend got scammed.  This one is still up and running and it scares me that we were so close to purchasing.  If it were a few months later, we might have.

Unfortunate experiences
Below is a list of complaints that I have found from various people around the web.  It's amazing  (sarcasm) that such a "great, A+ BBB company" gets so many bad reviews.  Not only are these reviews bad, but they have similar complaints.  Just saying... Beware!


  1. Thanks for posting this, I just found gainsaver and was excited, but it looked too good to be true (the fact they their proof of their BBB rating is a link to a youtube video was the tip-off for me).

    Glad do know I should just avoid it.

  2. Interesting information. I have had nothing but good experiences with Gainsaver, and have purchased 2 XServers and a number of MacPros. All arrived as ordered and are in service today.

    I have not dealt with customer service.

    Bottom line: Shop heads up.

  3. GainSaver is a joke, do not purchase from them!!!

  4. I have bought a dozen or so used computers from Mac of all Trades. They have been stellar, and less expensive than Gainsaver. There are many suspicious things about Gainsaver, for example the fact that they offer Macbook Airs with no wifi and less than standard RAM, which is not possible since those items are soldered to the motherboard. They also price a stripped down model and then force you to upgrade.

    I am just an end user, not associated with Macofalltrades in any way. I really can recommend them whole heartedly.

  5. I ran across some of those negative reviews and thought that maybe GainSaver had shaped up in recent years. Who knows a new owner, system, etc caused a turnaround.

    So I decided to sell my MacBook to them because they offered a higher price than Gazzelle. Evereything seemed ok, until my check never came in. I noticed that I mistyped my address and that the wrong address didn't exist. I figured no problem, I contacted GS through their website b/c their sales number kept on hanging up on me. They wrote back to "check that address" even though the mailman told me that wrong addresses get sent back to sender.

    Now I'm considering taking legal action since they continue to ignore my emails. How hard is it to stop pay on a check and reissue a new one? Pathetic

  6. It becomes quite clear that Gainsaver is out to gain more at less savings. Take any deal you see for an iMAC. So the new cost at apple for a 27" is around starts at $1799. and thats complete with 2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, 8GB (two 4GB) memory, 1TB hard drive1, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M with 512MB Ram. Complete out the door at the Apple Store (+tax of course). includes the standard Wireless Apple Keyboard and Wireless Apple Mouse. Thats worth nearly $120 alone if you bought them separate, How nice of Apple to include them!

    Now lets look at Gainsaver "Deals". -

    Take this one for instance - iMac Desktop 27" 2.93GHz Intel Quad Core i7. - Apple Computer A1312-2390, its a Mid-2010 model so already 3 years old.
    Looking at the specs provided, The hard drive included is a 40GB, OH WAIT! What? a 40GB ? really?, thats a lot smaller than the original 1TB it came with. Ok, so lets choose that from the drop down list. Shabang! the price jumps from the stated deal price of 1232.10 to 1421.10. But wait, we just getting started... It comes with 512MB Ram, WTF? The original has 4GB! It won't run on 512MB worth a crap if at all! Ok fine! we'll take the bait and upgrade the memory BACK to the 4GB. The price just jumped to $1490.10. I guess they have to charge extra for reinstalling the Airport Extreme card they removed, thats another $29 added, so now at $1519.10. Lets see, oh yeah... They jerked out the standard Apple Super Drive Dual Layer and stuck in a cheap wannabe. So there's another $99.00 to get back to the apple drive we all love. I don't want their cheap crappy non apple mouse and keyboard that they substituted, so that just raised the price another $108.99 to get BACK to the Apple wireless keyboard and mouse. So now that the darn thing is back to being an iMAC, let see, that's $1727.09 totalled up. Oh for crying out loud... its only got a 30 day warranty... So lets see what we have to pay to get the 1 year warranty we would expect from Apple. Thats another $100.00, so now the total is $1827.09 before tax and shipping. But wait... I see they offer shipping insurance... now thats really unsettling... that means if they ship it and it never makes it here, I'm screwed unless I pay the insurance of $25.32 so NOW the price has jumped to $1852.41. but wait, they ARE being nice and offering a discount of 198.03! So now the total is $1790.38. Again, I'm confused... thats only a discount of $62.03. huh?? I guess the "discount" was BEFORE I started shopping? Oh I almost forgot something, there's another option... for another $25 they'll "test it" Really? Does that mean they WON"T test it after putting all the parts back in they freaking removed to begin with? Give me a break! Fine I'll pay that $25 just to be sure the darn thing hopefully works when it arrives. By the way, not one inference that the parts I'm buying (back) are new or just used... The price for these parts looks like the price for NEW, but I wonder... SO now the price is 1812.88 after mystery discounts, from the now shown total of $2,014.31. WOW! What a savings!!!! Oh wait, thats $215.31 HIGHER than a NEW computer at the APPLE STORE! and I have not even found out the tax and shipping.. COME ON! DON"T BE A SUCKER!

  7. thanks your reviews helped me realize the shittyness of this site. Im just going to buy a new mac pro then deal with some scam artists.

  8. In words of one syllable their conduct is called fraud; two syllables? Larceny. Last I heard those are crimes. Legal action sounds like a very good idea. The obnoxious twit I dealt with on the phone might shape up with a little taste of something different. Or not. But they'd stop doing ill to innocent people. Pathetic of the BBB to not do better research - I thought THEY had shaped up. It's why I haven't trusted the BBB either. But it's a great place to start with a complaint. Just don't stop there.

  9. Stay away from Grainsaver. Terrible customer service. Terrible experience. My wife bought a Macbook Pro for herself and an iMac for her mom. First they would not deliver the merchandise because her billing address is in Texas and our mailing address is in Ohio. Total inconvenience. So ok, we had them deliver to Texas. After checking her bank account it turns they have charged her 3 times for the 2 computers! So what should have cost $1400 has now cost her $4200! We are working with her bank to get it resolved. We tried to call Gainsaver to speak with customer service but their ONLY customer service is through email - NOT A REAL PERSON! Then the email response she receives is a random auto-responder message totally unrelated to her problem. It is a nightmare. If it's too good to be true it usually is. STAY AWAY FROM GAINSAVER.COM!