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At the risk of being profane, I’ve got a story to tell. My 11-year-old daughter has been begging to get a netbook – even saving her own money, gasp – to accompany her as she enters sixth grade in just another week. It’s been a summer-long quest.

In a fit of spontaneous generosity last week, I decided to buy her one. We strolled into the local RadioShack, and she ran to the shelf where the Acer Aspire One usually sits. The shelf was bare, the highly popular netbook out of stock. But we could order one, we were told, and we did. In the color blue. I plunked down my money, paid a little extra for anti-virus software, and we went on our merry way, being told the system would be in for us to pick up in a week.

We got the call this week, rushed over to RadioShack, picked up the well-packaged new netbook and a new carrying case, and headed home to start setting it up. My daughter booted the system up and played around with it for a little while but only offline, but then we had to go out, so I asked her to shut it off and we’d do more later.

That’s when things got interesting. She clicked the shut off tab, was brought to the Windows shut-down page and, lo and behold, in the bottom left of the screen was this little gem: “Shut off Rob’s F&*()&’N computer.” You can fill in the blanks for what that middle word said.

My daughter gasps and beckons the entire family over. Two seconds later, I am talking to an extremely upset and embarrassed RadioShack employee who finally has to admit that this “new” netbook must have been one that someone else bought, used briefly and returned. The employees are supposed to wipe such hard drives clean – apparently.

We’ll get a new netbook and all will be well, but the question I have is this: What does “new” really mean? As a solution provider, are you certain the systems you install have never been used before, or is refurbishment simply a given in the industry? Share your comments, as I’d like to know.