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Kingston and PNY Caught Bait-and-Switching Cheaper Components After Good Reviews

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the genuine-panaphonics dept.

Data Storage 289

An anonymous reader writes Over the past few months, we've seen a disturbing trend from first Kingston, and now PNY. Manufacturers are launching SSDs with one hardware specification, and then quietly changing the hardware configuration after reviews have gone out. The impacts have been somewhat different, but in both cases, unhappy customers are loudly complaining that they've been cheated, tricked into paying for a drive they otherwise wouldn't have purchased.

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And another on the ban pile (4, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 7 months ago | (#47253861)

It amazes me when companies sell down their good name. It takes a lot of time and money to earn it, and it never brings in as much when you do this. So not too more companies on my "avoid" list. Luckily there is a lot of competition.

Re:And another on the ban pile (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 7 months ago | (#47253899)

It's surprising. Kingston? I thought they were a good brand.

Re:And another on the ban pile (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254055)

They were, now I'm just wondering who else who hasn't been caught yet may be also doing this as usually it can be a whole cartel of them.

Re:And another on the ban pile (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 7 months ago | (#47254065)

They have been good to me in the past and its disappointing to hear that they're doing this-- it sounds like they are admitting as much. I remember ~3-4 years ago I managed to snap the SATA connector on a kingston SSD and they replaced it no questions asked.

Hopefully these companies figure out exactly how heavily theyre trading on their reputation just to save a few dollars. I cant think of how this could possibly end up being worth it for them.

Re:And another on the ban pile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254261)

Anecdote: I had dealings with a company that argued against increasing their cost per unit by 20c for a substantially larger flash storage capacity in the embedded device they were building. Their reasoning? "It adds up". That 20c can easily turn into a million dollars once you start selling.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 7 months ago | (#47254703)

And yet I would happily have paid an extra 25c, even 50c, for the substantially larger storage. More customer satisfaction for me, more profit for them, and I'm more likely to recommend the device to my peers - everyone wins.

It especially pisses me off when you see those nickle-and-dime design compromises in big-ticket items like cars. Yes it all adds up - but is a difference of even $100 really going to make much difference in the number of sales of a $15,000 product?

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 7 months ago | (#47254125)

I'm surprised because Kingston so far has had an extremely good name, especially when it came to RAM. PNY wasn't up there, but at least from what I read, it was decent.

From /. articles and other reviews, I'm thinking if I go with a SSD, it will be Intel. Intel isn't perfect, but they seem to be tops when it comes to SSD reliability.

Re: And another on the ban pile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254269)

Kingston was crap back in the mail-in rebate days at CompUSA. Don't know where you got the idea that they were a "good" brand.

Re: And another on the ban pile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254643)

Yea I've never thought of Kingston or PNY to be top brands by any means. I had some Kingston ram on a Athlon64 that wouldn't run for crap (couldn't compile a kernel without a lockup) unless I dropped the timing or upped the voltage.

Re:And another on the ban pile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254335)

Actually, if you read the stability testing article a couple places down on the main page Intel was one of the first drives to crash.

Re:And another on the ban pile (4, Informative)

Predius (560344) | about 7 months ago | (#47254673)

Actually, if you read the article...

None of the drives died at their 200TB rated endurance, although the Samsung DID fail a data retention test. The Intel let go at 700+ TB of writes along with two other drives, but did so with plenty of advance warning and died in a way as to allow for one last read off of the data without corrupting it with a bad write. Hard to fault them there.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about 7 months ago | (#47254499)

I've used a few Intels with good luck, but I've had both excellent reliability and performance with the Samsung 830s and 840s.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 7 months ago | (#47254667)

That was kind of my impression as well. The Samsungs were great and the Intel ones being a very good reliable choice as well but not as good as Samsung. I went with the Intel ones since they were substantially cheaper (about 30%) when I bought than the comparable Samsung ones.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about 7 months ago | (#47254829)

Have a 250GB Samsung 840 which so far has been reliable. Then again it has only been a year since installing it.

Have a look at this article: https://techreport.com/review/26523/the-ssd-endurance-experiment-casualties-on-the-way-to-a-petabyte [techreport.com]

The Samsung did die an early death but the sample size is too low to be conclusive. Though, this does not worry me at all since my SSD is only for games. Plus I make backups :-)

Re:And another on the ban pile (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 months ago | (#47254307)

Yeah, I always considered them the premium "go to" brand. I buy cheap RAM for workstations and other hardware I'm not too worried about, but when we add more RAM to our servers, it's usually Kingston.

If they're just going to sell shit and slap their name on it, fuck 'em. I can buy shit RAM without the name tax added on.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254345)

I'll stick to Corsair. They also have a kickass logo.

Kingston selling shit USB3 flash keys (5, Interesting)

swb (14022) | about 7 months ago | (#47254359)

I needed a half-dozen 8 gig USB keys to serve as flash boot and installers.

I figured I might as well get USB3 versions since about half the time they would be written on USB3 based systems. I found a Kingston on Amazon, it was cheap and I bought them without thinking, figuring they were decent.

When I went to use them I had a WTF moment when they were so slow. Benchmarked them against a PNY 128 and another off-brand, both USB3 and the performance with them was as expected but the Kingston one was performing like a slow USB2 key.

Went to Amazon and read the reviews and found out that everyone was bitching and each review had a vendor followup from some flack at Kingston explaining that they were USB3 but considered "value" USB3 and that if I wanted "performance" USB3 I should buy another Kingston product at a ridiculous price.

Nowhere on the packaging does it say "slow, USB2-style speeds".

Anyway, this is just more news that Kingston is happy to bait and switch.

Re:Kingston selling shit USB3 flash keys (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254465)

If you want a real USB3 flash drive with great speeds, I'm very happy with the Sandisk Extreme brand.

Re:Kingston selling shit USB3 flash keys (1)

swb (14022) | about 7 months ago | (#47254507)

I've been more than happy with everything else I've bought that's been USB3. I'm not looking for the last 20% of speed possible, just generic USB3 speeds.

I just thought it was such a deliberate bait and switch to label a USB key "USB3" and then downgrade the performance to USB2 speeds. I'm not sure if they just use shit flash or if they have some specific technique they turn on to hobble performance of a device that would otherwise run at 3 speeds.

Re:Kingston selling shit USB3 flash keys (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 7 months ago | (#47254825)

Hear, hear. If your device is only capable of USB 2 class speeds then why the %$#@! are you marketing it as a USB 3 speed device? What do I care how much idle time is on the bus while it waits for the next packet of data? I guess the grace period where the incremental cost of USB3 control circuitry was enough to restrict it to the premium products that actually benefited from it is over, more's the pity. And of course the marketing drones try to make it sound like the interface speed matters. And now it sounds like they've even wised up to people searching the reviews for real-world performance data. Bastards. Why exactly haven't we made deceptive advertising a capital offense yet?

Re:And another on the ban pile (5, Insightful)

Striikerr (798526) | about 7 months ago | (#47253939)

When a company pulls this kind of trick, they are dead to me. I don't understand why companies think that they will get away with such actions. It may slip through once but it only takes one time getting caught and then people will start looking back at past hardware releases to see if they did the same thing before. The damage to a company's reputation can be devastating, all to earn some extra profit.. Such a shame.

Re:And another on the ban pile (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about 7 months ago | (#47253969)

Because for every slashdotter that hears of this, a hundred non slashdotters won't, and they never imagine they'll get caught.

Re:And another on the ban pile (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about 7 months ago | (#47254013)

But the online reviewers will know about this and they'll make damn sure they update their reviews.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

ghmh (73679) | about 7 months ago | (#47254117)

Trickle down effect is as trickle down effect does

Re:And another on the ban pile (5, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | about 7 months ago | (#47254193)

Why do you figure? As a top-ranked Amazon reviewer familiar with the reviewer "community", a hell of a lot of reviewers will give only positive reviews because they are afraid that any negative comments will stop the flow of free electronics and media coming. A lot of reviewers make a decent living eBaying products that we are sent gratis with a request for a review.

Plus, when you are getting a steady flow of free stuff to review, you are busy enough with the latest arrivals that you don't want to spend time going back and reworking a review you've already written. That's already ancient history for some.

I imagine these same problems exists at many independent tech review sites too.

Re:And another on the ban pile (3, Informative)

hubie (108345) | about 7 months ago | (#47254321)

I'm glad that Amazon started calling out which reviewers received the products for free. I have noticed (and this is not based on any kind of rigorous analysis) that those reviews seem to be generally 4 or 5 star reviews.

Re:And another on the ban pile (5, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | about 7 months ago | (#47254383)

Amazon can only show a message on reviews of products received for free through the Vine Voice program, where reviewers choose the product through Amazon's website. However, a lot of reviewers receive their free product directly from the manufacturer or publisher, and Amazon has no way of knowing. FTC rules require that a reviewer disclose that he is reviewing a free sample, but this law is often ignored.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

Albanach (527650) | about 7 months ago | (#47254759)

Amazon does highlight if the item was purchased through amazon though, so there is a way to pick reviews from those you can be fairly certain paid cash for the product.

Re:And another on the ban pile (2)

CRCulver (715279) | about 7 months ago | (#47254867)

Unfortunately, if you only choose to pay attention only to the "Verified Purchase" tag, you'll miss out on a lot of good reviews. Plenty of entirely sincere and trustworthy reviewers do their shopping at other online shops where they managed to get a better deal, but they review at Amazon because they are used to its community features. There are more such reviews than the shills; in fact, the shills are so relatively few in number that it is easy to figure out who they are and just ignore their reviews in future.

Re:And another on the ban pile (2)

PatentMagus (1083289) | about 7 months ago | (#47254773)

I've been in the vine program for over five years and have written a lot of negative reviews. I haven't been kicked out or anything like that and still get the occasional cool item. It is true that you get a lot more "helpful" votes for five star reviews though. It isn't that big a deal for me because I do most of my buying from amazon and have lots of opportunity to give positive reviews of things I actually like.

I once got into a pissing contest with a marketing flak over one of my reviews and they flagged that review, every one of my responsive comments, and a bunch of other reviews es as unhelpful. It's like they though they were punishing me. It made me feel pretty righteous.

Receiving a decent living? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254565)

And what is a "decent living" to you? I can't imagine any reviewer gets enough free stuff to sell that they are making a living at it. if so, their idea of a living is a lot different than mine. Although that may be the case regardless.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 7 months ago | (#47254083)

The hundred non-slashdotters generally rely on their geek friends to give computer advice, such as "should I upgrade".

It would be a big mistake to underetstimate how damaging this will be to Kingston's SSD department; Id place money on them halting the practice within the next few months.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 7 months ago | (#47254151)

The hundred non-slashdotters generally rely on their geek friends to give computer advice, such as "should I upgrade".

Ah, so that is why after the rootkit debacle all my non-technical friends followed my advice and started boycotting Sony.

Oh wait, they didn't.

Re:And another on the ban pile (4, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 7 months ago | (#47254379)

Don't be an idiot; Nobody expected Joe Public to boycott Sony over the rootkit thing, the OtherOS thing, or the myriad of other shady things they've done; They're too ubiquitous in their sectors.
"Hey, I'm thinking of getting a game console, PS4 or XBox One?"
"NEITHER! Consoles are DRM laden privacy invading boxes of Satan! Buy a PC, run Linux, be happy with indie games!"
"Uhhh... PS4 then."

However, boycotting Kingston on your recommendation is very easy to do.
"So I'm looking to upgrade my PC. Any recommendations?"
"More RAM! Oh, I told you that one before? Ok then, put in an SSD. Intel, Samsung, Crucial, Corsair, G.Skill, OCZ, SanDisk, Toshiba, and Zalman are all reputable brands. In fact, for what you're going to be doing with them, pick any brand but Kingston for your budget. They were caught shafting consumers by swapping cheap parts into their high end stuff after reviews were published."
"Ok, not Kingston. Got it."

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 7 months ago | (#47254521)

Intel, Samsung, Crucial, Corsair, G.Skill, OCZ, SanDisk, Toshiba, and Zalman are all reputable brands.

I trust that was only there for contrast and not because you would say it verbatim to anyone asking for advice!

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 7 months ago | (#47254535)

Attempted paraphrase:

So what you're saying is that free market behavior correcting activities don't work in the presence of panopolies?

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 7 months ago | (#47254581)

You're saying Sony are Too Big to Boycot? And I'm the idiot?

Anyway, I was actually just questioning GP's assertion that us geeks have any kind of influence over such things. And while I happily concede that the sony rootkit example is not the best possible one, it came to mind because after that one I personally stopped believing this assertion.

Doesn't mean I won't speak out if someone asks me a tech question, just that I don't actually expect them to be persuaded or disuaded, as the case may be, because of anything I said.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 7 months ago | (#47254449)

There's no danger in buying a Playstation 4. What are they going to do, rootkit their own hardware? The locks are already in place, so IMHO it's a more stable system than trying to hijack another OS to impose their own limitations.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 7 months ago | (#47254427)

Except that we are the nerds. We are the people our friends and family turn to when there's hardware to buy.

Re:And another on the ban pile (3, Funny)

i kan reed (749298) | about 7 months ago | (#47254545)

No they don't. We're the people they turn to when their crappy dell support won't help them fix "the internet"

Don't fear geeks, fear system manufacturers (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 7 months ago | (#47254553)

I suspect most non-geeks who have SSDs get them as part of pre-built systems and have no choice about which parts to use.

Geeks tend to overestimate their influence dramatically in this sort of situation.

Now, system manufacturers, on the other hand, have their own reputations and margins to protect. If they are buying units by the thousand of a device that wasn't the one they previously evaluated, and then they start seeing a surprisingly high rate of failure, that is not good news for the device vendor at all.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

SJester (1676058) | about 7 months ago | (#47254027)

But there's a good question hiding in all this. Like the two of you, I won't buy from a company that intentionally screwed customers. Yet manufacturers continue to trash their customer base by doing this. It has to be profitable, right? Which means that it's worth the risk, which means that some bean counter figured that the potential loss is outweighed by the gain. Yet here we see that it isn't. They've lost buyers... Unless much of these scams go unnoticed. So who else is screwing their customers now and has not been caught?

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

Racemaniac (1099281) | about 7 months ago | (#47254095)

Or not 95% of the SSD buyers will never read this, and this negative publicity will just be a small dent, but overall still profitable

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

SJester (1676058) | about 7 months ago | (#47254331)

Except that the news is not going to stay here. I know that I'm outraged and will review it. Buyers may not read /. but I'm sure they'll read reviews before buying. Good God. Please tell me that people read reviews before buying an SSD.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 7 months ago | (#47254353)

manufacturers continue to trash their customer base by doing this. It has to be profitable, right? Which means that it's worth the risk, which means that some bean counter figured that the potential loss is outweighed by the gain.

It should not surprise anyone seeing how many [boston.com] times over now an auto maker [investopedia.com] has put profits over its consumer's safety.

Re:And another on the ban pile (3, Interesting)

Larry_Dillon (20347) | about 7 months ago | (#47254111)

I'm not trying to defend Kingston or PNY but it may be that they had supply problems or other issues with the original part. It seems that Joel Hruska is assuming intentional deception/malice where none has been proven. I do think that companies should be required to change the model number when they change critical internal parts.

WiFi cards used to be horrible about this. Companies would change the WiFi chipset, requiring a totally different driver, and nothing on the outside of the box would give any indication. Somewhere on the card it would usually say rev b, etc.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 months ago | (#47254443)

Whether its malice, incompetence or some other reason, the fact is that crap is being sold under their name. Better, to my mind, to simply not manufacture until supply chain issues are resolved than to try to put lipstick on a pig.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | about 7 months ago | (#47254609)

Ditto. Though I would accept it if they *labeled* the "value version" as such (under a different part number). The marketplace for anything has range; that's why you can get a burger from McDonald's, or Five Guys, or Bobby Flay, or Ruth's Chris. As long as the price corresponds to the product level, it's the buyer's choice.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 7 months ago | (#47254481)

I know where you are coming from. I have an old Linksys PCMCIA wifi card that had 7 different hardware revisions & almost as many drivers.

What's the real story? (5, Insightful)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 7 months ago | (#47254237)

Electronics are produced in batches. Given availability of various components, each batch will not be identical. This is nothing new. As long as the new components still meet the same specifications, the consumer hasn't been harmed. Now if the intention of the company is to build a fast model specifically for review and substitute an inferior product for the mass market, that could be fraudulent. On the other hand, at the time of review, if the current model was all built with those components, then the review is valid.

We are talking about consumer grade products here. If you buy a name brand laptop and then the identical laptop six months later, it will very likely have different chipsets and versions of roms. There are companies that will sell business grade or even military grade, where all components are guaranteed to be the same regardless of when you buy it. Those usually cost a lot more.

So is there evidence that Kingston and PNY were being fraudulent or is it simply variations between batches? What's the real story?

What's the real story? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254767)

Considering the Benchmark Brief the article in question actually quotes not only presents numerous benchmarks of the two versions, all clearly showing the performance impact, but also states outright at the start "In order to achieve a balance of price and performance, we must maintain the flexibility to source NAND Flash components from various Tier 1 NAND manufacturers. At times, this will mean that there is a difference in benchmarked performance, where certain builds outperform our advertised specification (450MB/s Read / Write) while other drives will meet the advertised specification." it's bit hard to see where the article immediately comes to the conclusion this must be a malicious bait-and-switch.

Any rational person must conclude that IS a possibility, but given Kingston has gone to trouble of assigning the two versions different product names (V300 120S & V300 120A) and publishing a benchmark brief showing the performance loss using no fewer than 7 different benchmarks, it's hard not to accuse the original article, its Slashdot submission & posting of shady deception.

Re:And another on the ban pile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254451)

Do we really know this kind of "trick" was pulled, or that it happens systematically (and not, for example, the result of supply issues requiring "similar" components to be used)? Lots of times, especially on this site, some blogger makes accusations like this and the hive gets angered and outraged and starts slinging words around like "ban", "boycott", "evil", etc., because it naturally fits their "corporations are inherently evil" mindset. Then, even if it turns out to not be true, or not be as bad as the blogger's accusation, the hive still remembers later as "hey, weren't they the company that screwed their customers over with a bait-and-switch?"

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about 7 months ago | (#47254475)

Doesn't seem to have hurt Samsung, who were caught bait and switching by faking smartphone benchmarks.

This will be quietly forgotten.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

MathFox (686808) | about 7 months ago | (#47253971)

The company will (temporarily) make some extra profit, which is good for management bonuses. And after a few years the manager moves to another company... Rinse, repeat!

Another option is that it is just a manufacturing hack (because of component shortage) without properly thinking about the consequences.

Re:And another on the ban pile (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#47253995)

PNY has been on my ban pile since 2007, when I discovered that they wouldn't process a RMA on a SD card with a lifetime warranty without the original proof of purchase (verified by actually contacting support.)

It's sad to hear about Kingston, though. I've always trusted them and never had poor results.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

Rigel47 (2991727) | about 7 months ago | (#47254127)

Seriously.. I always used to think of Kingston as being a solid brand. In one stupid move they are now classified as ripoff scam artist criminal evil scum.

Re:And another on the ban pile (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 7 months ago | (#47254497)

I have had similar thoughts with the game publisher market.
You would think that [insert big name publisher here] would have enough sense to not plaster a product with their name if the sole purpose of that product was to con people into buying it with false promises.

Yeah (1)

CheezburgerBrown . (3417019) | about 7 months ago | (#47253869)

I'm sure they'll just call it a Hardware Revision and write it off.

Re:Yeah (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 7 months ago | (#47254105)

It doesnt matter what they call it if people stop buying their crap.

That's a shame. (1)

InfiniteBlaze (2564509) | about 7 months ago | (#47253877)

Kingston has been my go-to brand for at least a decade. I've used some others for performance, but Kingston was always rock solid, with great customer service. It saddens me to hear this.

So much for the brand value (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47253929)

(moderately unrelated: I prefer the presentation of this article here. [slashdot.org] )

I remember Kingston being one of the top quality RAM producers. PNY wasn't quite up there, but it was still respectable. Now, this sort of ill-conceived cost cutting measure.

If this was a case of over-engineered prototypes, the second product run should've been noticeably cheaper for buyers, slightly different ID number on the boxes, and another sample sent to reviewers so they could test the full-production model.

As my Father used to say: (5, Insightful)

Zanadou (1043400) | about 7 months ago | (#47253953)

As my Father used to say:

"You're not actually sorry for doing it, you're just sorry for being caught doing it."

Re:As my Father used to say: (2)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 7 months ago | (#47254227)

My wife and I use this on our kids all the time. They are very, very sorry for doing something bad and will beg for another chance, but if given it will almost immediately go back to their bad behavior. (And then beg for "one more chance.") It's amazing how a huge multi-national company and a seven year old can act the same. The difference is that the damage from a seven year old's misbehavior tends to be more limited and the punishments are easier to dole out. If only we could just send Kingston and PNY to their rooms.

Many, many companies do this ... (5, Informative)

fuzzytv (2108482) | about 7 months ago | (#47254009)

Good advice - when checking reviews for a product (e.g. on Amazon), always sort them by time and check how the ratings change. Many products get good reviews first, then it dives. You won't see this otherwise.

This is fraud. (5, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 7 months ago | (#47254019)

False advertising etc... Doubtless they've found some legal loophole to let them get away with it but it shouldn't be tolerated.

Sue them. Let the lawyers latch onto their faces and lay lawyer babies in their stomachs that will after a short period burst out of their chests to fill the world with yet more lawyers.

These guys have it coming. You don't cheat your customers.

Re:This is fraud. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254173)

I'm not defending them but it's common for a company to stream-line an existing product line and reduce costs as a method of increasing profits. Of course the consumer suffers when those cost reductions result in a lower-quality product.

Re:This is fraud. (2)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 7 months ago | (#47254429)

And the customer has a right to receive what they believe they paid for in the first place.

Look... change the product all you like... just make it clear you did that and don't pull the all too common move of maintaining the same model number as the unmodified version by then putting "v2" in the small print. I've seen a lot of this and its slimy. If you want to sell a stripped down version of the previous product, that is fine...change the model number enough that its clear its not the same thing. Too often they don't change the product name. The full model number includes the version but that's not part of the advertising or marketing and its often not disclosed when you buy it. I can't tell you how many times I bought something crossing my fingers that I got one version or another because there was literally no way to know.

Its fraud. Include the version in the model name at all times so when people give reviews you'll know specifically which version they like... and when you go to buy and don't see that version you know to be careful.

Re:This is fraud. (2)

beelsebob (529313) | about 7 months ago | (#47254827)

Not quite - I'm also not defending them, but the consumer has the right to receive what was advertised, not what they thought they were getting.

If kingston advertise certain specs, and the new build still meets those specs, there's no false advertising going on.

What 3rd parties say about their device is neither here nor there, and any consumer believing what said 3rd parties wrote is completely liable for their own mistake in believing something other than what was explicitly advertised.

Re:This is fraud. (2)

fivepan (572611) | about 7 months ago | (#47254279)

It isn't fraud because the specs listed reflect the items being purchased. It's just that when the older reviews were placed, the specs were better. Reviewer comments on Newegg, etc may be useful for a company in selling products (or detrimental if they have a bad product) but that isn't advertising by the company so therefore can't be "false advertising".

Re:This is fraud. (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 7 months ago | (#47254291)

I don't like being put in the position of defending this practice, but taken on face value, I don't see how it's illegal. If a company makes a minor update to a product that shaves a few bucks at the expense of quality, changes the product number to indicate that a revision has been made, and the news doesn't get picked up by any of the review sites, that doesn't mean the manufacturer did anything illegal. Sleazy, quite possibly, but they just as easily could've made a tweak that they thought was for the better and gotten it wrong, in which case it's not even sleazy: it's just a mistake.

In this case, however, we have no reason to believe that they were doing anything but compromising the product in order to line their own pockets with more cash, in which case I say screw 'em.

Re:This is fraud. (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | about 7 months ago | (#47254651)

The key item in your list is "changes the product number". Then it's OK. Problem is they did NOT change the product number, just sold something not-as-good under the same number for the same price.

Re:This is fraud. (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 7 months ago | (#47254695)

that will after a short period burst out of their chests to fill the world with yet more lawyers.

Ew, and have more lawyers? No way.

Re:This is fraud. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254855)

But it says here in the fine print, "Specifications subject to change without prior notice."

car companies do this with tires (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254039)

get the good review on early first year models
then substitute a cheaper tire for latter half of the first year
some of those early model tires are quite expensive and high performing or efficient, but you can at least get them aftermarket

but wholesale change of internals, that's hard to fix aftermarket

Exiting the SSD business? (2)

BenJeremy (181303) | about 7 months ago | (#47254071)

They must be... because I can't think of a faster way to poison the well and scare customers off than cheating them. The Kingston move is downright shocking... whoever is making the calls for their SSD parts needs to be fired ASAP, and some serious damage control needs to be put into play if they ever want to continue selling SSDs.

Re:Exiting the SSD business? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254407)

Whoever is making the calls for their SSD parts needs to be fired ASAP, and some serious damage control needs to be put into play if they ever want to continue selling SSDs.

The guy who ordered the guy in charge to do this agrees with you completely and unreservedly.

Reviewers need to report this (5, Insightful)

crow (16139) | about 7 months ago | (#47254113)

So the solution is that the professional reviewers at places like C|Net or ArsTechnica need to have a policy of redoing their testing on older models when newer models are released. If they find that the older model no longer performs as they originally reviewed it, then they need to loudly warn that the manufacturer is known for reducing the quality of the product without announcing a change.

Re:Reviewers need to report this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254377)

The entire point of this article is that they are not necessarily changing the model information at all; both the older and newer "models" meet the same minimum constraints listed on the boxes, the older ones just exceeded it.

Re:Reviewers need to report this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254815)

I do not remember which review site it was (probably Tom's), but several years ago, there was an article asking for people to purchase hardware for them. In exchange, the purchaser would get the reviewer's sample back. This was done to ensure that the review is unbiased, and eliminate any possibility of the manufacturer sending in a cherry-picked device. I am rather surprised that this has not continued further to keep these manufacturers in check.

George Lucas did the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254121)

Built up Star Wars rep by releasing the initial version where Han shot first, then watered it down to the cheaper version for bigger profits.

Immoral and Naive (3, Insightful)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 7 months ago | (#47254153)

I would like to see the paper (email really) trail where these companies plotted to screw over consumers. After all, there is no way that this happened by accident and being deliberate means communication. I thought highly of these brands until now. Now I can only wonder how long this has been going on and how many product lines are affected. They have lost my loyalty and cannot earn it back. I will warn everyone I know to avoid all of their products and I will explain why. I have a feeling this is going to snowball into a much more publicized scandal. I just hope I don't find out any of my still currently beloved companies have been committing the same fraud.

Also, I say naive because how could they have thought in this day and age that they would not get busted? I guess they were blinded by the dollar signs in their eyes.

Re: Immoral and Naive (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254349)

Batch. Built. Hardware.

When they order a batch, they use supplies on the market that meet the published performance specs.

No evidence of anything. Non story.
Typical autism induced rants of rage sans context. Typical of Slashdot today, not so much pre 2000.

Re: Immoral and Naive (1)

BenJeremy (181303) | about 7 months ago | (#47254555)

I see the Kingston VP of their SSD division is posting as AC on Slashdot today. Maybe they would be more wise to spend the time deleting their e-mails directing them to save costs and use cheaper, under-performing parts.

PNY wasn't caught (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254251)

It was ONE guy who got other hardware than what he expected. Reddit causing another witch hunt, as they love to do.

Re:PNY wasn't caught (3, Insightful)

BenJeremy (181303) | about 7 months ago | (#47254493)

Thanks for elaborating. It's all clear now... PNY only created a single SSD in production with a completely different controller and firmware. It's like a practical joke played on the customer, and he should laugh instead, since PNY spent all that money to send him the only SSD of that model ever to be made with a Sandforce controller.

Damn witch hunts!

DIY OSHW to prevent this kind of problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254301)

Apparently if you build a DIY OSHW product, you either don't cheat on quality, or you are a masochist.

My dream is a world where, like we have free SW today for almost everything, you have free OS DIY HW for almost everything.

My famous project: Twibright Ronja [twibright.com]

And my latest project: Twibright Distillcooker [twibright.com]

Kingston has just comitted suicide. (3, Insightful)

satan666 (398241) | about 7 months ago | (#47254323)

I cannot for the life of me fathom a company, in this age of internet and instant news, doing this. I have purchased some things from Kingston before and I was fine with the company. However, after reading this, they are on my lifetime shit list. That is also true for anyone reading the story. And you can bet that Digg, reddit and a few other popular sites will be running the story shortly.

In other words, Kingston is fucked, with a capital F.
Even if the company president comes over and cleans my house for a month, the bad name will prevail.
These guys are morons.

Re:Kingston has just comitted suicide. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254863)

These guys are morons.

Currently this is the norm for management positions and CEO. In the business world today, profit is the sole and exclusive concern to them, and that should be obtained in the shortest time possible at any cost (even if it means the end of the company in the medium to long term).

Is SanDisk ok ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254327)

I bought a SanDisk SSD recently.

Is this brand at risk also ?

Kingston SD cards (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254361)

On a very related note, about a year ago I bought a Kingston 16 GB Class 10 SD card, but when I benchmarked it, it performed like a Class 4 card. After searching online, I found other people also complaining of this.

Irony: captch = recall

Time to disqualify them (1)

kaiser423 (828989) | about 7 months ago | (#47254409)

Well, time to disqualify them as SSD providers in our corporate system. Offhand it looks like it'll trickle down to a pretty significant loss of orders for them. For commodity SSDs our system just looks up all qualified vendors and goes by cheapest price. These guys were there previously, and now not....

A bit more subtle than you think (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254431)

It's a bit more subtle a scam than you think. Kingston/PNY haven't changed the specs of the product at all, all they did was ship hardware that's cheaper/closer to spec. That is, they never promised the crazy performance reviewers were getting, they just overbuilt the first run of components and then switched to something cheaper that still met spec requirements. Hardware manufacturers reserve the right to reformulate product all the time without indicating as much, so long as the spec is still the same. So basically, they spec a $100 box, but put $200 worth of components in it for the first few customers and review units. Once the good reviews go out, they pull the expensive components out of the box. But it's "technically not a scam" because they "technically never promised such a good deal", they just accidentally happened to give reviewers a good deal.

From a reviewer's point of view, however, I'd be incredibly skeptical of parts that perform too good compared to what they should be doing on paper. If you have something that is supposed to get 200mb/sec writes, but is actually getting 400 or more, then you should probably question the manufacturer and perhaps even score the product lower for being overbuilt, on the expectation that future hidden product revisions will stop overbuilding it.

Re:A bit more subtle than you think (0)

Xaedalus (1192463) | about 7 months ago | (#47254807)

Gotta second this--this reeks of a business plan by an ambitious white product manager in his late forties with an MBA who figured out how to juice more revenue out of his line, and got his management to sign off on it without considering the ramifications. I run into these guys all the time--it's amazing how many bad decisions in the IT sector come about because of guys like these. They know everything about their product, and yet at the same time know *nothing* because they're ultimately just businessmen peddling widgets, instead of geeks who care about the meta-level ramifications as well as the specifications AND the business.

This is why I quit using PNY products years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254437)

Had bought a supposed (on the box) 128MB GeForce4 TI4800 made by PNY. Turned out to be the TI 4200, 64MB.

I have not touched PNY products for a very long time due to that.

Sony's been doing this for years. PS3 anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254479)

Remember the original specs for the PS3? Now look at the last version and compare. Kingston et al are late to the game.

Change is not bad per se. (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 7 months ago | (#47254503)

Any product that has been in production for a while will incorporate engineering changes during it's production cycle.

These changes can arise from some perfectly legitimate reasons including:

1. Fixes for problems found after production starts.
2. Improvements in manufacturing process to improve yield etc.
3. Changes needed to compensate for changes in upstream sources.

The idea that something essentially a prototype given to reviewers will not be changed once it's been in production for a while is nuts.

HOWEVER if the product is changed in such a way that the result is inferior as this article seems to indicate then the manufacturer has a lot to answer for.

TV and monitor manufacturers also (1)

qubezz (520511) | about 7 months ago | (#47254587)

This has been happening for many years in computer monitors and televisions also. There will be an initial version sold for a few months that gets the reviews, and then the specs are changed - completely different LCD panels made by different manufacturers are substituted silently, often with different technology. Anecdotally early versions of an Acer monitor having a MPVA panel, and then the exact same model then shipping with TN panels that pale in performance compared to the original. With monitors, you are buying an AO Optronics panel in a box labeled Samsung, so when the same model gets you something inferior to both specifications and original reviews, it borders on fraud.

Re:TV and monitor manufacturers also (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 7 months ago | (#47254891)

IS fraud, plain and simple. Because despite receiving the inferior panel, you paid the price of the quality one.

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254729)

Stupid consumers... This is why they do this and get away with it.

This is not the first event, only the first that was caught.

The author's example doesn't add up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#47254735)

As long as the product meets the advertised spec, why is there a guarantee it should exceed the advertised spec?

This is similar to years ago when people were buying P4 Celeron CPUs because many could be converted to a higher clock rate just by soldering a jumper. Not all worked this way, but many did. So when someone buys a Celeron and performs the jumper mod and is unable to get the CPU to clock at the higher rate, they really had no reason to complain.

Just like if McDonalds started giving out a gold coin in the bottom of every cup of coffee. People would flock to McDonald's to buy coffee to get the free gold coin. And then one day, they quietly start slowing down the rate they are giving out coins. First 1 in 2 cups. Then 1 in 5. Then 1 in 10. Then 1 in 100. Then they quit all together. Guess what, if they weren't advertising "free gold coin with every cup," people have no reason to be mad they didn't get a gold coin.

Or if Honda advertised a car that had 150 HP, and the first ones off the line actually would dyno at 210 HP, but they made a spec change and the HP was effectively reduced down to 175. Do you really have a reason to complain, when you're buying a 150 HP car? I don't think you do.

Granted, maybe it's not the best thing for Kingston to do, given their reputation. But i'm not certain it was done with any malice intended. You people saying "Kingston is now dead to me" ... bah ... Who's stuff are you going to buy? Go ahead, and feign disgust, but I don't know that it's all that terrible in the grand scheme of things.

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