The Social Engineer's Guide to Buying an Expensive Laptop
Laptops are almost a necessity in today's society. It doesn't help that a laptop that can actually increase your work productivity will put at least a $1,500 dent in your wallet. I'm sure you have searched around to try to find factory direct deals, or (shiver) even looked at used laptops, but that isn't the way to go. You need something that actually has a warranty, and good performance, but at the same time, doesn't require you to sell a kidney. This can cause quite a dilemma, as it can take some people months or years to save up for even the worst computer.
Well, if you are a computer gamer, or just an enthusiast, you have probably heard of Alienware. They are the most expensive, the most gorgeous, and above all else, the most powerful gaming laptops in the universe (no, people... having 3 hard drives doesn't make Sager better). The drawback of these beasts are the steep prices. To get the specifications maxed out Alienware, it will run you back 5 to 6 grand. This is the power that you get to play with:
- Screen: 18.4" 1080p WLED
- Processor: Intel Core i7 2960XM 2.7GHz (3.7GHz with Turbo Boost, 8MB Cache)
- Memory: 32GB Dual Channel DDR3 at 1333MHz (4DIMMS)
- GPU: Dual 2GB GDDR5 AMD Radeon 6990m (4GB)
- Storage: Up to 512GB Solid State Drive SATA hard drive
- Misc: SATA3, USB 3.0, HDMI input, 4 year warranty and more
- Total: $6,949.00
This is a force to be reckoned with. However, the toll for this gorgeous piece of hardware will do some damage to your wallet. What if it doesn't have to, though? What if I told you, that with some clever shopping, and some hardcore social engineering, I got this laptop down to $2,000? No joke. In today's Null Byte, I am going to show you exactly what it takes to get the most out of your money from Alienware. I'm going to sleuth around and get the best price on parts and then finish off with some social engineering to lower my price even more. This isn't just for Alienware, though. These methods are applicable to all things expensive. Pay close attention, this could save you enough money to buy a car.
Social engineering is a natural-born talent for some people. Convincing someone to trust you, and playing on human emotion can really save your skin when it comes to big spending. I've used it to my advantage more than I can remember when it comes to purchasing things.
Step 1 Prepare for Battle
Before we begin, we should shop around for upgraded parts and see if we can get them cheaper elsewhere. This will put a good dent in the preliminary price on our order, making minimal to no sacrifice in regards to performance. Upon looking around, here is the modified list that we can come up with:
- Screen: 18.4" 1080p WLED
- Processor: Intel Core i7 2860QM 2.5GHz (3.6GHz with Turbo Boost, 8MB Cache). I swapped this out to the 2860QM because it costs half as much and can be easily overclocked to be faster than the 2960XM, while maintaining a 8MB cache size. Clearly a better option.
- Memory: 16GB Kingston HyperX PnP Triple Channel DDR3 at 1866MHz (4DIMMS). I chose to order RAM from someone other than Alienware and "downgraded" from 32GB of 1333MHz to 16GB of Triple channel memory clocked at 1866MHz. This upgrade is much faster, and can be overclocked to 2000MHz, easily. Almost a 100% speed increase is achieved while we also save $1,780.00. This means that we also get 4GB of RAM for free with the laptop because it comes with it, stock. Sell it.
- GPU: Dual 2GB GDDR5 AMD Radeon 6990m (4GB). Stick with the dual AMDs—they are faster than the nVidia 580m cards and are a lot cheaper. Option seems pretty clear to me.
- Storage: 256GB OCZ SATAIII SSD R/W 500/MBs. This drive is faster than any of the drives offered through Alienware. I chose only one because an SSD larger than this, for now, is pretty ridiculous. The Alienware will still come with a 500GB HDD, which can be used for storage, so you can keep the OS and your games on the SSD to increase performance greatly.
- Warranty: 1 year advanced warranty. I upgraded to the 1 year advanced plan to cover accidental damages. A lot of people do not know this, but a few months before your warranty runs out, you can call the factory and pay to have the warranty extended. Why pay for it now if we don't have to?
- New Preliminary Total: $2,860 on the Alienware. $3,380 is our new grand total, with extra parts included. We have already saved more than 50% for a rig that outperforms what we would have had.
Step 2 Social Engineer FTW
There are a number of things that come into play when pulling this part off. Here is what we need to do to successfully lower the purchase price:
- Call on the phone. When you call, you can haggle with a sales rep. Contrary to popular belief, the prices on the website are never set in stone. When a sales rep. makes a sale, they get commission, so why would they push a customer away? You have the power. You have the money that they want. This is what opens the door to social engineering our way to victory.
- Order at the end of the month. Sales reps also have a quota that they need to fill. If you call enough times, you will get lucky and find someone that will offer you a special price. Believe me, they will be more than happy to accept your money on a discounted computer.
- Stay confident. Confidence is key to making your point. If the sales rep sees that you are weak, verbally, you will not get your reduced price. Would you let a bluffer get away with talking you down hundreds of dollars in commission? I don't think so!
- You can call back. If you don't get the deal you want, just keep calling back until you get someone willing to work with you. Set a goal for a price, and try to get as close to it as possible, or beat it.
- Use manipulative phrases.
"It costs XXX? But, I only have XXX much to spend."
"I can only order one now, but I'm ordering 2 more in a few weeks, could you work with me on the price? I need it now."
I called a few times to get the best quote possible. When you want to try to get a lower price, tell the representitive to email you the quote, and you should be able to keep the price quote they gave you for a few days. This locks in your price so that you are safe to try again.
- Call and ask to be connected to a US representitive. These are not outsourced jobs to different countries, so these reps have more freedom. This means they have the ability to lower the price more than anyone else.
- Be polite and courteous. Ask the rep. how their day is going. This can go a long way before you even start to talk about your machine's build. They will have a great disposition towards you, and often times will be more than willing to help you out.
- After you run through the build and they give you a quote, use some manipulative phrases. Here is what I did:
Rep: "Your build is <reads off my parts list>, the price comes out to $2.760" (already cheaper).Me: "Oh, damn. Problem is, I am a little bit short right now, and need this laptop for work. My current laptop died, and I have a large chunk of money lying around for it, but I don't quite have enough for the specs I want. If I don't have a laptop, I can't do my job. So I'm bouncing back and forth beween decisions right now. I don't know if I want to sacrifice some power in an Alienware, and regret that I didn't wait to get a better one, or if I want to just get an Asus from Best Buy, because I can't afford to not have a computer."
- After a little while of spitting "pity me" lines for my laptop being broken, he lowered the price to $2,420.00, thanks to a coupon code and some friendly manners.
- I asked the rep., "What kind of bag does the system come with?". Now, I did my research. Alienware only offers bags for an extra fee, but since I assumed the system came with a bag, he was afraid of losing the sale and asked me, "Which one would you like? We have an over-the-shoulder messenger bag, and a backpack". Victory.
- After the quote was set up, I pushed it as far as I could take it.
Me: "As I said, I really need this for work, so is it possible that you could be fast with it? I have work on Monday."
Rep: "Sure, I can bump you up to next business day, free of charge, courtesy of Dell."
I got the system I hoped for, for an insane $2,420.00 with a free messenger bag and next day shipping. That's a savings of $4,529.00. I told you it was possible. I can't wait until this gorgeous machine is in my hands!