View Full Version : Buying PC games online

14th Dec 2003, 15:50
I have been contemplating trying to get my paws on System Shock 1 & 2 online since I am unable to find even used games in the stores. I am by nature a cautious person and so I am reluctant doing this for obvious security reasons. What has been your experience and what stores would you recommend? Also how risky is ebay?

14th Dec 2003, 20:11
I have baught many things off Ebay and all have arrived quickly. Just check the sellers feedback.

If you want a copy of System Shock 2 (without the movies) to play right now, you can DL one from Underdogs (http://www.the-underdogs.org/game.php?gameid=3924). SS1 is published by Origin, so the game is not available to DL.

15th Dec 2003, 02:47
We've bought (and sold) many thousands of dollars worth of stuff online over the last couple years.
(More than I care to admit) :o
Everything from concert tickets to car parts to whole cars and 4x4's. 80% of our xmas shopping this year was done on-line over the last 2 months. The selection is HUGE, and there's no lines! ;)
We haven't had a "noteable" problem yet.
Maybe we're just lucky. But it could also be because we only do business with "reputable" on-line sources and we do our research beforehand.

Ebay has it's share of losers on it. Just make sure the person you're buying from has a good feedback record and everything should go smooth. I've had several hundred eBay transactions now, and only a few gave me troubles. Of those few, all were stuff I was selling, and the high bidder never paid me for them. No biggie though, because I don't ship anything out until it's been paid for.

I say go for it!

15th Dec 2003, 21:45
A few years ago,a friend of mine purchased a dagger for $60 at eBay from an online company. Other people did too. They emailed everyone and said that they were out of stock, and that their employee should not have used the auction. I don't know if anyone else received their swords, but my friend didn't. The company soon went out of business! My advice, if you want to use eBay, is to check out the escrow services if it is an expensive item to you. but now, come to think of it, I think that eBay has insurance for such instances now, up to a certain amount. Check that out too.
Oh, and the company had good feedback.

16th Dec 2003, 22:33
I've spent lots of money online to & haven't had a problem. On ebay you should stick to people who have lots of positive feedback.

The thing that made my mind up about trusting online shopping was a Dilbert cartoon. In the first frame, Dilbert is sitting in a restaurant with his date talking about how he'd never trust online shopping because it was too easy to steal your credit card information. Meanwhile he's handing his credit card to the waitress. In the last frame, the waitress is handing him back his card while wearing a fur coat. It can really be easier to steal your credit card number when shopping in person than it can be online.

17th Dec 2003, 00:46
WOW! Look who came for a visit....Ricknmel and ChowYunFat!!!:eek: Glad you paid a visit. Thanks for the advice everyone. I think I'll try to dl the game.

17th Dec 2003, 03:09
If you want a copy of System Shock 2 (without the movies) to play right now, you can DL one from Underdogs. SS1 is published by Origin, so the game is not available to DL.

heh - that's odd, since underdogs is where I had gotten my copy of SS1.

they claim you can buy it from this place called "the software society" but I can't find info on how legit/non-legit they are.

17th Dec 2003, 17:58
Fraud has accelerated in online auctions. You send your money and then you don't get the item, or it comes other than advertised. And these sellers often raise their own feedback by registering under a few different names and then giving themselves feedback. There was an article about that in the newspaper a few weeks ago. One person purchased a car from a dealer who was selling at eBay, and it was advertised as in excellent condition. They even paid a couple of hundred to have it delivered. When it came, it was full of rust and dents. They checked and found that he had registered under a few different names and was giving himself feedback at auctions that had just ended a few minutes before. eBay jerked his user ID, and he then registered under another different name. I haven't had any problems buying at auctions, but I am more cautious now. I am sure that the vast majority of sellers are terrific. It's probably just a small percentage that causes problems.

17th Dec 2003, 23:01
I tried to dl SS2 from Underdogs twice and both times my machine caught, smashed, crunched, and I hope destroyed a virus called "Backdoor misery." Won't visit that site again.

17th Dec 2003, 23:52
I've never had a problem with them - I'd email the webmaster and let them know.

18th Dec 2003, 00:12
You are right Fafhrd. I guess I should have done that but then I thought it could be a legit file that Norton thinks is a virus. But anything that has Backdoor on it I shy away from. I am leary to disable Norton to dl the game if it is a virus.

18th Dec 2003, 17:05
If you buy online, and if you want or need to use a credit card (which is typical), might I suggest you get a credit card that lets you limit your exposure. I don't know if there are other credit card companies that do this, but I have a credit card with MBNA. They provide their ShopSafe service. You can create a temporary credit card number that is associated with your real account. For this temporary credit card number, you assign the maximum amount that can be charged to it and how long this credit card number will survive. The defaults are $1 and 1 month. So if you buy something that costs $25 then you could create a temporary credit card number for, say, $40 (to cover shipping if that wasn't included in the price) that survives for only 1 month (because you expect them to order it when you do). For example, I created a temporary credit card number for my online AT&T long-distance account that maxed out at $100 (since I rarely use long distance) and lasted 12 months, so after a year then I would create another one for another year. I even use temporary credit card numbers for well-known online vendors, like newegg.com and buy.com. The temporary credit card number aids in limiting your exposure to fraudulent use of your credit card number should some taffer intercept and abuse it. You still have to go through the same procedures to deny or rebuke payment through your credit card company but, at least, the amount is fixed.

For online auctions, I'd recommend never directly paying the seller. Always use an online payment service. I've only used eBay and used to use their eBay Payments service until it was terminated so now I use PayPal. The seller only gets as much as you have authorized PayPal to pay them. Again you are only limiting your exposure. You can still run into problems getting the item, the item received was not the item described, it doesn't work, or whatever but, at least, you haven't left an open invitation to the other party to charge however much they would like against you. I would recommend to always use a credit card as the form of payment through PayPal (or whatever online payment service you use). If you use eCheck or bank transfers, you can't stop them after the seller has been paid, you're stuck with trying to use eBay's limited protection mechanisms, and in trying to convince the seller to give back your money (after or before you give back their item). With a credit card based payment, you can still go through the credit card company to issue a chargeback. Some sellers will refuse to accept credit card based payments because of possible chargebacks, but then I have to wonder why these sellers will refuse to refund monies if the buyer returns the item in the same condition it was sent and if the seller did not claim it was an "as-is" item (which still is covered by state warranty regulations, anyway).

If the item costs hundreds of dollars, I'd start to think about using a legal proxy (i.e., escrow agent). The proxy won't complete the transaction until the buyer has furnished all unfettered monies and won't release those monies until the seller provides all goods as advertised. There is always a fee to use an escrow agent so consider this part of the cost of buying an item unless the seller is willing to share in the expense since the service protects both buyer and seller.

When buying from an online auction, ALWAYS add insurance to the shipping. If the auction says insurance is not included or will not provide insurance, contact them to find out (and keep their e-mail) if they are willing to include insurance. Without insurance, all the seller has to say is that they shipped it and too bad you didn't get it. Also note that it is the seller that is paying for the insurance. You have to do nothing regarding the collection of the insurance other than provide the item to the insurer (since it then their property if they pay the insurance). Any collection of the insurance is between the seller and the insurer. You only have to prove the insurer admits the item is damaged or lost at which time the seller becomes responsible for refunding your money or sending you another item. You do not have to wait until whenever the seller manages to finally collect from the insurer. The contract the buyer has with the seller is for the item, not for the insurance. Although the buyer may be paying for the insurance, the buyer never gets to sign the shipping contract with the insurer. If insurance is not included, or if the seller refuses to include insurance (at the buyer's cost), then don't buy it. You as the buyer will have little leverage other than through your payment mechanism if the item never arrives or it is damages in transit. Some sellers, when shipping internationally via air-mail, will claim it is impossible to get insurance. That only means the carrier that they intend to use will not offer it, so find out how much more it costs to use a different carrier that will provide insurance. If the buyer doesn't ensure that the item gets shipped insured, then the buyer recognizes it is a crap shoot that they get the item at all or undamaged. Spend a day watching mail carriers handle mail at their station, on route, or at the airport and you'll see why insurance is almost mandatory. Once while sitting on the plane waiting for it to leave, I watched a postal worker turning upside down boxes marked "This Side Up" and deliberately and forcefully smacking the boxes down as hard as he could against the conveyor belt. At the post office and along their routes, boxes are routinely hurled great distances. There is no regard as to putting super heavy boxes atop lighter more fragile boxes.

With auctions, it always is required that the buyer read ALL of the auction description. Sellers will often hide an important detail within a deluge of superfluous text. For example, they may sell a full version of Windows XP Pro, provide a long-winded description of the product, and somewhere within that superflous text they mention that it is an OEM version (whereas the title that said "Windows XP Pro" implies the retail version if OEM was not mentioned). Many sellers are not expert sellers, too; not everyone selling on eBay is really a store in disguise. So they may omit important details and the buyer is expected to e-mail the seller to clarify just exactly what is being sold. For example, the seller may omit mentioning the COA (certificate of authenticity) with Windows XP Pro, so you'll have to ask them via e-mail to ensure it is included to prove it is a non-pirated copy. If your e-mail every bounces to a seller or buyer at eBay, that qualifies them to have their account terminated, so make sure to report it. Sellers and buyers are required to be contact-able (but it is vague as to how fast to react they are required). It's a big community at eBay so expect the same percentage of scum as you find in any large populace.

You are not only expected but are required to be an educated buyer when bidding at an auction whether it is online or real. No one cares about the idiot buyer that overpays for an item because they don't really know what it is worth elsewhere or retail or doesn't know how to value an item's collectible value. The seller can establish a minimum value by setting the starting bid amount or setting a reserve level, but it is the buyer that establishes the final value of the item. If you paid so much for an item then that's how much it was worth to you. Don't complain if you find it elsehwere for cheaper. Don't bid if you don't agree. And be damn sure to take into account the shipping *and* handling charges. Sellers will sometimes add a profit margin by charging extravagant shipping and handling charges. eBay rules say that when posting the shipping and handling charge that it includes the handling (i.e., packaging) costs, so only pay that amount and nothing more even if the seller demands that the shipping and handling charge only including the shipping cost and not the handling charge. If you bid, you agree to what is posted. If the seller doesn't specify a shipping and handling charge then make d*mn sure that you ask them BEFORE bidding since otherwise they can charge you whatever they want.

Be sure to also read any negative feedback for a seller. Sometimes you'll see the feedback is from puerile buyers that behave like children who think sellers must respond like their parents and bend over backwards for the child. Many times the negative feedback can be retaliation for leaving neutral or negative feedback against the other party. Your feedback should only be measured by your own experience with the other party, not how the other party feels about you. I had one buyer that literally threatened negative feedback if I posted neutral feedback against them (which was deserved), so eBay got contacted and this buyer got "corrected" in his attitude. He attempted to coerce me into giving him positive feedback after notifying why I would be leaving him neutral feedback (which, to me, means neutral and not negative), and that coercion got reported to eBay. While you should not use feedback for infantile retaliation, expect some infantiles to be using eBay. Usually you can recognize the infantiles by the style of their feedback, plus you can often find they themself have lots of negative feedback. However, on the flip side, check the user's response to any negative feedback. If they provide to follow-up response to negative feedback, that might be a user that you want to avoid since they don't care about their performance and trustworthiness. If they do respond, see if it is specific or just another peurile response. Just having some negative feedback is not necessarily bad. See how many bad they have compared to how many total. Someone with 6000 feedback and with 10 negative isn't very bad -- UNLESS all the negative feedback is within the last month.

Ask the seller regarding ANYTHING that seems vague or misleading to you or for which you would like clarification, and don't bid until you get a response to ensure they can be contacted. Report any seller or buyer whose e-mail bounces as they are required to be contact-able. Limit your exposure by using a temporary credit card number or online payment service to fix the maximum that the other party can be paid. Check their feedback to see if most are recent, the quality of the feedback, and that the user posts a follow-up to any negative feedback. And always have the item sent insured even if the auction doesn't mention it or says it is not included.

19th Dec 2003, 00:01
I've been buying things online for 6 years and have never had a problem with my credit cards. of course, I'm also smart enough to not use my debit card - no sense if something DOES go wrong in letting them have my checking account.

you're still far more at risk of having someone steal your CC# using it in person or over the phone than online. most businesses can pull up your CC information up to a year after your purchase, so all it takes is one unscrupulous person to do so (online vendors, of course, have the same schtick).

A lot of this is blown out of proportion with the "internet may be unsafe for CC use" stuff - ANY company that has a server with CC info connected to the internet (which is stupid for them to do, mind you) is at risk for being hacked, regardless of whether or not they do any internet business. the safest bet is to still examine your statements every month and IMMEDEATLY report anything you don't remember charging on your bill. Ideally, you can check it every week online as well and keep very current tabs on your account.

19th Dec 2003, 00:49
Yet even when making orders over the telephone, I still use the temporary credit card number that is attached to my real credit card number. No point in giving them more power over you than you authorize. No point in worrying about an unscrupulous [ex-]employee. No point in worrying if someone listens in on the conversation. Your only concern is up to the maximum limit YOU define for the temporary credit card number, and that goes away after the expiration YOU set on that number (or, after the authorized transaction, you can then cancel that temporary credit card number so nothing between the amount of the transaction and the maximum you set could ever get charged). I used a temp number for my long-distance carrier (set to expire in a year with a max dollar amount that could ever be charged to it), decided to terminate their services, waited another billing cycle to ensure they had closed the account and to pay whatever I still owed, and then killed the temp number so there could be no further "accidental" charges against my credit card.

Whether I'm paying my cable company, the telephone company, my ISP, or whomever, they never get my true credit card number. Same holds true for using e-mail aliases instead of giving out your true e-mail address.

19th Dec 2003, 16:58
Originally posted by littlek
I tried to dl SS2 from Underdogs twice and both times my machine caught, smashed, crunched, and I hope destroyed a virus called "Backdoor misery." Won't visit that site again.

Sorry to hear about your problems, but like Fafhrd I have never had that problem with Underdogs. I have DL'd many old P&C adventure games in the past. Please do email the webmaster... Underdogs is a well respected site in Abandonware circles.

Old Man
19th Dec 2003, 17:44
So, I thought I'd check out this underdogs site. The main page comes up okay but when I tell it to list the grand adventure games it tries to add stuff to my registry! That's not playing nice in my book.

23rd Dec 2003, 20:43
The Underdogs site is complete crap.
I did manage to download SS2. It took quite a bit of finessing, and getting rid of the pop ups.

23rd Dec 2003, 21:30
Originally posted by Old Man
...it tries to add stuff to my registry! My apologies for posting the link. I have never had any trouble with them, but having said that, it's been over a year since I DL'd anything from them. :(

23rd Dec 2003, 21:54
Just blame it on the Trickster Gummie. :)

So....anywhere else for SS2? I am headed to Cols., Ohio tomorrow and will rummage through some stores to see if I can find a copy hidden in some dark corner. But if I cannot find it, I'll have to dl it from somewhere. I really want to play it.

24th Dec 2003, 05:12
The Underdogs site is complete crap. I did manage to download SS2. It took quite a bit of finessing, and getting rid of the pop ups.

if its just popups you're complaining about, stuff it. no one likes popups, but a bandwidth eater type site like that kind of needs some way to make money. just use a browser that kills popups for you (like opera).

I download stuff from them not all the time, but probably average once every couple of months and I've NEVER had an issue with them.

I'll try to dl ss2, since I own it anyway and see if it gives me an issue.

24th Dec 2003, 10:35
The BEST place I have found to buy games, DVDs, CDs and other stuff is HALF.com (http://www.half.com). It's run by eBay, but works a little differently. I've bought LOTS of stuff there and never had a problem (but if I did, Half helps to resolve it). You pay Half.com, they pay the seller, your info never goes to the seller. The only thing you want to check before buying is the feedback rating of the seller.

As for the Underdogs, never had a problem with them either... but there is the issue of SS2 not being "abandonware" and that abandonware is not a concept that is altogether legal. Also, I believe that the copy of SS2 that is at the Underdogs is missing all the cutscenes etc.

Munin the Raven
24th Dec 2003, 19:02
I believe that the copy of SS2 that is at the Underdogs is missing all the cutscenes etc.

It isn't missing all of the cutscenes, only the intro and final cutscenes. The ingame cutscenes are still present.

It's a great site, particularly for older games that are near impossible to find otherwise, although it does tread a thin line with legal issues, as you mentioned.

27th Dec 2003, 00:28
well, I had no download troubles, have yet to install it though. I'll have to check if I still have an installation present.

Personally, I think Underdogs does a better job than most abandonware sites in treading that legality line - they'll pull anything the license owner asks them to immediately, and don't have anything that you can still find easily on shelves. I've seen some "abandonware" sites that claim ANY piece of software a year or so old is such... I don't usually go back to those.

I just stumbled across Advanced Civilization at Underdogs - I've been unsuccessfully trying to get some family and friends to play a game of the old Avalon Hill board Civ, so once I dig out my 486, that game will probably hit the spot. Since Hasbro has all but killed off Avalon Hill, good luck EVER seeing some of the excellent computer conversions they made in the 90's. Ditto a lot of text adventures - I'm one of the lucky ones that picked up the Infocom Masterpieces during the brief time it was available, if I hadn't, I doubt I'd ever find a new release on them.