The mysterious company that claims to be selling a clone of Apple Macintosh computers posted a message on its Web site Thursday proclaiming that it is a legitimate company -- and that its credit-card processor has been unable to handle a flood of orders. But many bloggers and observers suspect the company may be a fraud and warned consumers to stay away.
Psystar, which is registered as a Florida company, started promoting its Mac clone on its Web site in March. Originally called the OpenMac, the company changed the name to Open Computer after press reports focused attention on the company. Apple has declined to comment on the story.
Asked if Psystar was actually shipping the computers, a woman who answered the company's phone told this reporter, "The Web site is fully functional." She said units would be shipped within seven days of placing an order.
Earlier this week, the British newspaper The Guardian reported that the address on Psystar's Web site changed Tuesday, from 10645 SW 112th St. in Miami to 10481 NW 28th St., also in Miami.
Addresses Don't Add Up
A day later the site was sporting yet a new address: 10471 NW 28th St.,
Miami. Later, the address changed to 10475 NW 28th St., Miami. As of this writing, the address was changed to 10475 NW 28th St., Doral, Fla.
The Web site shows the new address on or near NW 107th Ave., near the Miami International Airport. However, a check of Google Maps reveals that no such address exists. While there is a 28th Street in the area shown on Psystar's map, it's a one block long and it appears there is no 10475 address. Mapquest, however, shows that 10475 does exist.
Psystar explained the address changes this way: "We're in the process of moving to a new location which is now listed on our contact page. The first new address posted (10481) was in error and our correct address is 10475 NW 28th Street. PSYSTAR was, prior to this past week, not ready to handle the enormous production capacity demanded by the online community. Due to the incredible response, we have now expanded to a larger commercial unit to handle the supplies and assembly of Open Computers. THANK YOU for all of your orders."
The site did not address the existence of the first address, which is a home in a residential neighborhood, or the 10471 address.
Card Processing Stopped
Several Miami-based readers of the Gizmodo blog went to the 10481 address and identified it as the location of a packing supply company called USA Koen Pack. According to Gizmodo, the owner said he had never heard of Psystar. According to The Guardian, neither has the Miami Better Business Bureau or the Chamber of Commerce. On Google Maps, that building appears to take up the entire length of 28th Street, and according to Gizmodo it takes up from 10481 to 10490.
Whatever the truth of the address, Psystar is sporting several other signs that it may not be legitimate. Users who attempted to buy a Mac clone on Wednesday received a message that Psystar was "currently unable to process any credit-card transactions." Users were advised to send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for updates on credit-card processing.
On its Web site, Psystar explains: "Midday yesterday our store was not receiving any orders. This was due to the fact that our merchant gateway, Powerpay, dropped the ball on us and refused to process any more transactions from our company. We have reverted to Paypal until we can find a high-volume merchant. Apparently Powerpay was not ready to handle the community's demand for Open Computing."
"Is this company run by high school kids?" asked ZDNet blogger Larry Dignan. "How about taking Visa like most legit vendors? In any case, I'd steer clear from this mess until Psystar proves itself."