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11 July, 2005
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BlueHippo: A No-Credit, No-Problem, Computer System Rip-Off

Blue Hippo Bandito by Aric S. Campling
The Blue Hippo Bandito
Graphic by Aric S. Campling
KillerFrog Group Productions

The BlueHippo TV commercial and its Web site clearly are aimed at sucking-in people who do not have credit and/or who cannot afford a computer. Moreover, the BlueHippo, 2005 Gateway Premier offering is a rip-off.

Mike Angelo -- 11 July 2005 (C) -- Page 1

Article Index

Linux v. MS Windows

To learn why Linux is so much a better choice than is Microsoft Windows, please see our article Gaël Duval Tells Why Mandrake Linux Is Better Than MS Windows

To learn how to run MS Windows-based software and accessories in GNU-Linux, please see our article Crossover Office 2.1 Runs MS Windows Software on GNU-Linux Systems

Executive Summary

BlueHippo Funding, a "Gateway authorized reseller partner", advertises what appears to be a great computer system deal. The pitch is a "2005 Gateway Premier" computer for $35.99 per week for twelve months with a no-credit, no-problem hook. The pitch is aimed at people who do not have credit or cannot afford a computer.

However, the BlueHippo offering is a rip-off. The final price of the BlueHippo system is nearly $2,000. But, you can find comparable or better entry-level computer systems for around $300 to $500.

The BlueHippo ad says the payments are weekly. But many people will be thinking of monthly payments (12 payments or about $430 altogether) rather than 52 weekly payments (nearly $2,000 altogether).

BlueHippo wants the buyer to pay the first three-month's payments up front. That makes the upfront price $530.88.

If you were to buy a BlueHippo system because you do not have a credit card or cannot get credit, your upfront payment is more than the full price of a better system from an honest vendor. If you have the cash to make the upfront payment for the BlueHippo system, you have the cash to buy a better system outright.

A system that we have tested extensively and that we do recommend very highly. It is the Pogo Linux Altura64 Workstation. We like it so much that we named it a MozillaQuest Magazine Editor's Choice in December 2004.

Over the July Fourth weekend on cable TV, an outfit trading under the name of BlueHippo Funding was advertising heavily what appears to be a great computer system deal. The pitch is a 2005 Gateway Premier computer for $35.99 per week for twelve months with a no-credit, no-problem hook. However, the BlueHippo TV commercial and its Web site clearly are aimed at sucking-in people who do not have credit and/or who cannot afford a computer. Moreover, the BlueHippo, 2005 Gateway Premier offering is a rip-off.

The final price of the BlueHippo system is nearly $2,000. But, the system is not worth even $500.

The BlueHippo Scam

  • The BlueHippo Bait

The bait is the idea of paying only $35.99 per week for a "premier" computer. Payments of $35.99 sound pretty reasonable until you read the fine print. Even though the advertisement says the payments are weekly, many, if not most, people will be thinking of monthly payments (12 payments or about $430 altogether) rather than 52 weekly payments (nearly $2,000 altogether).

If you read the fine print, the BlueHippo system comes out to a total purchase price of $1,970.48 when you include the $99 down payment. Moreover, BlueHippo wants the buyer to pay the first three-month's payments up front too. That makes the upfront price $530.88.

The BlueHippo system claims a 2.5-GHz Intel processor, 128-MB RAM (memory), 40-GB hard disk drive, and a 17" CRT color monitor. Software-wise, it comes with Microsoft Windows XP and six months of AOL. The six months of AOL is worthless in our opinion! Additionally, GNU-Linux is a better operating system than is Microsoft Windows.

This BlueHippo baited hook system is far from a premier system by today's standards. Matter of fact, it is an el cheapo, cheap, entry-level computer system.

  • The BlueHippo Rip-off

You easily can find comparable or better entry-level computer systems for around $300 to $500 -- that's much less than the $1,970.48 real purchase price of the BlueHippo, Gateway computer system. That alone is bad enough to make the BlueHippo, Gateway system a rip-off. But, that's not all folks.

The $300 to $500 for a comparable or better PC from other vendors is less than the $530.88 that you would have to pay upfront for the BlueHippo system. Thus BlueHippo rips you off thrice.

  • First, you pay nearly $2,000 for a computer system that is worth less than $500.
  • Second even your upfront payment of $530.88 is more than what the BlueHippo PC is worth.
  • And third, you have to pay BlueHippo $35.99 per week for nine months (40 payments) after you already have paid upfront more than the BlueHippo, Gateway PC is worth.

Just to make sure everyone gets the message. If you were to buy a BlueHippo system because you do not have a credit card or cannot get credit, your upfront payment is more than the full price of a better system from an honest vendor. If you have the cash to make the upfront payment for the BlueHippo system, you have the cash to buy a better system outright.

  • The BlueHippo Scam Unraveled

The $530.88 upfront price for the overpriced BlueHippo system is based upon this catch:

Here's how it works. Instead of checking your credit, all we ask is that you pay just $99 down and make 3 month's worth of payments. Then your computer will be shipped out to your home. (BlueHippo Web site -- Link in the Resources section at the end of this article.)

Three month's worth of payments amounts to 12 weeks times $35.99 per week or $431.88. Add the $99 down payment to that $431.88 and you get $530.88 for the upfront price. You have to pay BlueHippo $530.88 before it will ship the computer to you!

For the total system price, take the $35.99 per week times 52 weeks per year and you get $1,871.48. Now add the $99 down payment. The result is a whopping $1,970.48 for a BlueHippo, Gateway computer system that is not even worth $500. What a rip-off!

  • Another red flag for BlueHippo

As a matter of course, we tried to contact the BlueHippo people to afford them an opportunity to respond to this article and expose'. First we called the 800 number listed on the BlueHippo Web site.

A yellow flag went up when the first thing the woman who answered did was to ask for the caller's first and last name. The reason for the yellow flag is that when you make an 800 number phone call, the person you call can see your phone number. That's because an 800 number call is in effect a collect call. Thus the party called gets to see your phone number in order to decide whether to accept the call.

Therefore, it appears the first thing the BlueHippo outfit wants to do when you call them is to get some basic identity information, including your full name and phone number, from you before anything else. Such information could be used to develop call lists for telemarketers.

Nevertheless, the writer introduced himself as Mike Angelo and stated he is a writer for MozillaQuest Magazine and was working on a story about BlueHippo.

Then the woman that answered the phone told us to call another 800 number to get a response. Apparently the first 800 number is a sales-only line and the second is a customer-service line. Often, sales-only lines go directly to contract telemarketers rather than to the company that sells the product or service.

The second, customer service, 800 number was dialed and after a wait of well more than 10 minutes for a human, a BlueHippo customer service person, who identified himself as Anthony, answered the phone. Before anyone said anything else, Anthony asked for this writer's social security number.

That of course sent up an immediate red flag. There is absolutely no honest reason that a computer-vendor customer-service person would need to ask for a caller's social security number -- especially as an initial greeting. Of course this writer did not reveal his social security number to the BlueHippo person.

For more about the importance of protecting your social security number, please see our article, Solutions for Identity Theft, Credit/Debit Card Theft, and Personal Information Theft -- Part I: Overview. Although this request by the BlueHippo representative for the caller's social security number was made on the phone, it sure reminded us of a phishing scam.

This writer explained to the BlueHippo customer-service person that MozillaQuest Magazine was about to publish a story about BlueHippo and that he was calling to get a response from BlueHippo to the story. Anthony told this writer to call yet another 800 number. Upon a little further discussion with Anthony, it was unveiled that this third 800 number is a fax number to BlueHippo's "legal department" -- more red flags.

When a company representative is asked about making a response to an article about that company, a reporter usually is referred to a media-relations person or some other company official with authority to speak for the company -- not to the company's legal department.

BlueHippo's Anthony was asked to put this writer in contact with a media-relations person or some other BlueHippo official with authority to speak for the company. His response was to refer us to the legal department fax number. Anthony was asked to provide a voice phone number for the BlueHippo legal department and refused to do so. And he refused to put us in contact with any other media-relations person or company official with authority to speak for the company.

  • See Better Systems for Less Money on Page 2 ----->

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