Post Your Most Disappointing Tech Purchase!

Continuing the discussion from Kanye West thinks home 3D printing is killing the shoe industry:

I’ll start:

Never got the damn thing to work, and only managed to get $30 for it when it left. Good riddance.

ETA - Multiple Bad Purchases Accepted and Encouraged!

This thing, probably.

Never got much use out of it, then work gave me a Blackberry soon after.


I mean, I’m glad I Kickstarted it, for the concept. But I’ve used it literally once.


I bought one of these from TotallyWickedeLiquid for $60. I charged it, the parts were threaded wrong, and after the first charge ran out the battery ruptured when I screwed it back into the charger. In addition, it vaporized at some insane lip-burning temperature, and the supplier refused to replace, or do anything to remedy my grievance.

The whole nasty ordeal has soured me on e-cigs. I don’t want to end up spending real money for “something better” just to have it go to shit in my face.


That time machine I’ll buy in 2026, because it obviously doesn’t fucking work!
What a rip-off that will be.
Wait…I’ve got it…now that I know that, I just won’t buy it.
Woo-hoo, that time machine helped me change my mind before I ever buy it.


ELO lyrics (because it’s fucking relevant!):

“With that brand-new time transporter/
They’ll think maybe I fought to get away…”

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Probably the netbook that I got when they were all the rage… Never did use it much other than to play with various lightweight linux distros once the wife finally gave up on it (got to wipe out windows).


When I graduated from high school, I was given $500 worth of cash gifts from among family and friends. I promptly turned around and immediately bought a 1991 Ford Tempo with 200,000 miles non-working Electric locks and windows and no AC. I paid $500 cash up front for it. It was sitting on a neighbor’s lawn with a for sale sign duct taped to the window.

It looked like this, except covered in rust spots, and both rear windows stuck rolled down:

I loved that car. I named her Janette after a childhood friend. But she was old, and I was rough, and she fused her autoclutch after about 8 months of driving. Totally dead in the water. When the tow truck came, they gave her a mighty pull, something in the transmission snapped, and I waved goodbye as it headed off to the car donation program for my local NPR affiliate.

ETA: Calling @Donald_Petersen I’m sure you have a disappointing car you’d like to post about. Haven’t you had like a bazillion cars?


Oh! I didn’t know cars qualified as tech purchases. I’ve certainly owned my share of disappointing cars. Actually, most of them hung in there like underdog champs. My current car, a 2007 Toyota RAV-4, is disappointing me the most.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s fast and reliable and comfortable and well-appointed. But still, it has a habit of falling just short of my high Toyota expectations. Oil changes, for example. A process every other automaker has refined into a relatively speedy no-brainer of a task, with spin-on filters in reasonably accessible locations. Not so, my RAV-4. A lower air dam must be removed (fairly common these days), and the filter itself for no good reason at all isn’t a self-contained spin-on filter, but a paper element that goes into a removable housing that ostensibly needs a dedicated Toyota housing wrench to remove. There’s a good-sized drain-plug on the bottom with a simple 3/8" square hole that will fit any 3/8" ratchet extension, and you’re supposed to remove that to drain the oil from the housing so you don’t make a big ol’ mess when you remove the housing. But since the housing itself is so difficult to remove, I just torque down the drain plug and use that 3/8" square hole to remove the whole damn thing. Messy, but the only reliable way to change the filter.

And another stupidity: the alternator. Every other car I’ve ever owned has had an alternator right at the front of the engine and usually on top, so it’s the single easiest major component to remove, test, and replace. Two bolts and one or two wires, and you have a new one installed inside of ten minutes. On my RAV-4, with its transverse (sideways) mounted V6, you actually have to drain and remove the radiator and the right front wheel to even see the alternator, let alone remove it, and the whole job takes half a day.

Also, since when does a modern alternator fail at 100,000 miles? I also have some premature suspension and steering wear that’s starting to sound ominous. Very uncharacteristic for Toyota.

Let’s see. My '87 Jaguar XJ6 with the '93 Chevy 350 engine conversion had some (unsurprising) issues.

Unsurprising because Jaguar, not because of conversion. It was so fun to drive, but there was always something going on to spoil the fun. The ignition switch would literally fall apart, killing the ignition. It was permanently and effectively fixed with a 5-cent ziptie, which is dumb. The car has two gas tanks and one gas gauge, which you’d switch between the two tanks with the same button you use to actually switch the fuel feed. And it came in handy, because when the Jag’s gas gauge read “1/4 tank remaining,” it actually meant “bone dry,” so it was a good thing you had another tank at the ready. And that’s not an idiosyncrasy of the Jag being 28 years old. Apparently all the pre-Ford Jags had dishonest gas gauges from when they were new.

I briefly owned a 1974 VW Super Beetle. It was originally purchased to be a backup picture car for the miniseries version of The Shining, but after they painted it red, they realized that it didn’t match the “hero” car, which was a regular Beetle (with a flat windshield), not a curved-windshield Super Beetle. So I bought it from the show’s transpo department for $700. It was supposed to match this car:

I found out (the hard way) that even perfectly fresh old Beetles aren’t really meant to be driven at 75 mph, even downhill. Since mine had a bad exhaust valve, the engine heated up too much, and I cracked the magnesium crankcase, spraying hot oil everywhere and rendering my new $700 acquisition a more-or-less total loss over a thousand miles from home. But that one was my fault. Still disappointing.

When I met my wife she had a new 2005 Subaru WRX.

Not the super-speedy STi version, but the still-quite-speedy regular turbo WRX. I was really looking forward to driving that all-wheel-drive road rocket, but alas… it was an automatic, and the turbo lag meant it was kind of a slug from a dead stop. Once you were already zipping down the freeway above 2700 RPM it could certainly haul ass, but from a dead stop it had a hell of a time getting out of its own way. With a stick shift I could have really wound it up, but as an automatic… disappointing.

My first car, a 1978 Mercury Zephyr wagon, was pretty cool.

Well, not “cool” as such; it was a station wagon from the 70s. But it had a 302 V8 with something like 130hp (woo hoo) and red vinyl upholstery. I lost my virginity in that wagon (slightly more respectable-looking than a van, which would have only hurt my chances), and hauled a lot of fun stuff around with it. But the one time I tried to show off those rawking 130 horses, I revved the engine past its (probably 4800 RPM) redline, and sucked a valve which got clobbered by a piston, and doomed my dad and me to a long weekend of engine rebuilding. Disappointing. I eventually traded it to my dad for his '77 Honda Accord hatchback, but only because he loves me. I think he ended up selling the Merc for $400 or so.

After a stretch of three Hondas (all cheap and all fun to drive and remarkably durable) I bought a 1976 Mustang II for around $3,000 from a dealership in 1993 or so.

It was a cream puff, with shiny red paint and luxurious scarlet velour upholstery. It was like driving around in a Turkish bordello. The only problem was that the temperature gauge didn’t work. The dealership said they’d fix it if I brought it back to them, but I never got around to it. About a year later, on a trip from San Diego to Los Angeles, it overheated somewhere near Carson. Bad enough to warp a cylinder head or crack the block or something; it never ran again, and I had to sell it to a junkyard for $80. Now that was disappointing, but again: my fault.


Wow, that was an anthology.


I have disappointed myself. My Lifetime Of Shitty Cars isn’t quite as shitty as it felt at the time. I omitted the blue '77 Mustang II with the home-cut sunroof and rainbow-painted instrument cluster and sad-ass 2.3L four-cylinder, as well as the '78 Accord hatchback with no hood and chronic exhaust blow-by problem, since they weren’t actually disappointing as such. Indeed, I was kinda impressed how much they didn’t suck (which wasn’t all that much, to be honest… they were predictably sucktastic in most ways, but they did keep running for an amazingly long time).


I’d go with the Nest Protect carbon monoxide and smoke detector.

There’s a crack in my livingroom wall leading down into my apartment block’s furnace room. The only window I can open is level with the furnace stack. Naturally I want to see if opening the window increased carbon monoxide levels. I want to see if levels went up near the crack in the wall.

For all the network connectivity of the Nest Protect, it turned out to be incapable of reporting the carbon monoxide levels. Not even via the programming API. It’s strictly “All Clear”, or “Alarm.”

Nor do you even own so much as a status update. Yes, you can get an update on your phone. But what they don’t tell you on the box is that you have to open a hole in your firewall to let it communicate on the internet, so that it can send your data to someone else’s server. You get the data from THEM.


Yeah, car stories are fun but can get personal and lengthy real fast compared to the fascinating-by-itself “got a cool gadget, wasn’t cool at all, into the drawer it goes” narrative.

Maybe a separate curbside classic style thread for them?


I got no problem with that stuff here. Cars are tech, and so is carpet I guess, and hammers and nails.

You think this is one of OMIKE’s little games? :smile:


But! It might just be a characterful enough theme to merit a distinct category! Fools! Fools all! Why must you hate order and neatness?


I kid, I kid.

The real pick for me was a Sony Clie PDA:

Got a good deal on one back in the day, really looked like it would be the shit! Was the first PDA that had a real camera on it, took beautiful 2.0 megapixel pictures with a fully functional flash.

The mobile browser was garbage, as was battery life. The flash as it turned out too so much voltage so suddenly that you could only take 2-3 pictures tops (more often 1 or 2) with the flash before the Li-Ion battery decided it was discharged, and you needed a hard reset to make it believe that it was still mostly full. If anyone remembers PalmOS, removing battery power could have a deleterious effect on your settings, and sometimes installed apps.

Such a shame! The build quality was great, and the form factor totally insane. This would be totally cool to have today as an Ubuntu or Win10 device with modern specs.


This piece of crap cordless screwdriver. It has little gyros inside to change direction and speed as you turn your hand; what a cool idea, right? Unfortunately, the thing has as much oomph as a My Little Pony. It crapped out after getting a single screw halfway into a piece of pre-drilled IKEA plywood.


Not only did I buy it, I was so sure it was going to be the Next Big Thing that I was convinced to waste a year of my life at this place.


PocketPC OS burned a lot of us. :smile:

I think Palm was way better, right up until Android.


That was pretty nice for the time. I remember a coworker pulling up the ILO connection to a server from his, which was all kinds of cool at the time.
Of course now a bog standard android tablet will run rings around that.