A Look at Some of the 'Next Generation' Bitcoin Mining ...

Word of warning to those of you considering buying from GAWminers

In the hopes of helping prevent someone else from falling for the same trap, I will brief you on my experience with GAWminers (a seller of ASIC mining hardware, in case you're not already familiar)
To begin with, let me just say I've never been too serious about mining Dogecoin. I already know I missed that boat when I was too late to the bitcoin party. I just like to have enough to play around with, tip out, or more recently, play some Dogecoin poker on IRC in #dogecoin-holdem (it's not mine, I just have lots of fun there). So, over the past 8 months or so, I've sort of made it a hobby to buy some hardware to grab some more doge out of the ether. A video card here and there, a new power supply to support a couple of 7970s in one box, etc. Y'know, stuff I'll still be able to use long after cryptocoins are long forgotten or whatever.
I looked from afar as ASICs took over Bitcoin and always assumed they'd make their way over to Scrypt, and that I might dabble in one at some point just for funsies.
In early July, that moment came. I saw the GAWminers fury, and after being beeped on IRC every other minute by somebody talking about their GAWminers fury (my username and their product name is an unfortunate coincidence), I decided it was time to give it a shot. Except instead of one, it was 3. Three GAWminers fury ASICs. Just for funsies. $105 each, at the time. $315 to basically have double my previous max hashing power in less than 1/10th of the power. I figure, I've spent at least twice that much on a video card which I don't use 90% of the time, might as whale. Dogecoin's fun, and this will get me more doge.
Only, it didn't stop there. I got them set up, and a week later, I could not help myself, I went ahead and bought a Black Widow too. It was priced at $450 at the time, except I had a $10 coupon sitting there for supposedly leaving my cart unchecked-out for a while. Might as whale. This same day, the price of the fury was dropped to $60 each. Alright, no big deal, price drops happen, I'll just get a credit or a refund and put it toward another Black Widow or something. Only thing that showed up in my email inbox was "request rejected", there was no explanation or anything. I guess their policy is no, then.
Not only that, but the Black Widow shortly thereafter dropped to $350, and the fury then to $40. For those keeping count, that's a little under $300 in total price drops that happened to the stuff I bought, and that's just within a couple weeks. I can only imagine what it feels like to be one of the really early adopters of this stuff who paid over $200 for a fury, or someone who poured many thousands of dollars into it.
Fast forward to some time after GAWminers updated their site, and I got directed to the support site where it turns out I actually did get a written response to my refund request--it just never made its way to my email inbox, I didn't know this support site ever existed before. It was an apologetic offer for $50 store credit and a brief claim that whatever they're pricing it at is already lower than what they get charged by their suppliers, and if they gave every customer a refund they'd go out of business, etc. (Wouldn't one go out of business by always charging less than what it costs to buy the stuff? I'm not terribly good at economics, though I would think making it up in volume is still a net negative)
I chose to give the benefit of the doubt. These are human beings behind these companies after all, and they're just trying to stay above water in a fiercely competitive and rapidly changing world. What would I do in their shoes? I don't know.
So, given their offer of a store credit (which I have not yet seen applied to my account), and some apparent speculation from the GAW CEO that mining hardware is no longer being manufactured and may rise in price, I chalk it up to bad luck, I've never been a particularly good gambler, and I'll just continue to have fun with the doge I'm mining, maybe bite once more if the mood feels right.
Sure enough, a few days ago, I see this OneMiner thing offering a Lightning X6, 42 MH/s for $700. Not a bad price, I thought to myself, as I had just spent $750 for about 20 MH/s from GAWminers. Might as whale. At this point, I am completely unaware that OneMiner is a GAWminers thing. I know, a quick Google search would have solved that question for me, but it didn't occur to me. I sure found out once the charge appeared on my bank card. $1400 for a pair of Lightning X6's from my friends at good ol' GAWminers. I meant to only purchase 1, but apparently somewhere along the line I double clicked the "I want one" button and had added a second one to my cart. Strike two for my attentiveness and foresight. That's fine, though, I was ready and willing to roll with that. I easily blow that much on phones or tablets that I hardly use. Might as whale. And GAWminers had in fact extended an offer for some store credit, so I figure they're decent enough people and I might take that store credit and buy a little thing later on to grab a few more gigglehashes.
Less than 24 hours later, the GAW CEO posted a $150 Black Widow sale (the thread for which is now deleted from hashtalk). One third the price I had just paid for a Black Widow a few weeks ago. Effectively, 6 of those would've roughly equalled the hashing rate I had just spent $1400 on (not counting the difference in power usage), so I feel like I just wasted $500 in a matter of hours. So much for mining hardware going up in price.
That's it for me. Even if they do give me the $50 store credit, I'm done doing business with a company that treats their customers in this way. They're afraid they'll go out of business if they credit back the hundreds of dollars in rapid price drops I've helped them subsidize? How about they're going to go out of business if they keep doing this and losing customers to it?
These games they play with people's hard-earned dollars only have one winner, and that winner's name is GAWminers. This stopped being fun, and shit got real, real quick.
I know, shit already got real when I spent over $2,000 again for hardware to mine a coin. I lost sight of my real goal, which was just to have fun and make more dogecoins and be able to play around with it more. But I also lost sleep over this. I lost money that I could have spent giving something good to the community or doing something good for myself like, say, some decent clothes instead of the same 4 shirts I wear over and over again. I consider myself fortunate that I didn't go even further and lose even more.
To be clear: this is entirely my fault. GAWminers' business model is very clear in that they do not care about customers--there are numerous threads just like mine all over the internet, most of them even worse off than me. The business model apparently works for GAW, or they'd have changed their policies to something more in line with other companies that I do business with. I take full responsibility for my lack of control and my being too trusting, and getting in too deep for my own good. I post this not to fish for sympathy, nor to shame GAWminers into refunding me or giving me more store credit. Like I said, I've decided I'm no longer doing business with that company anyway--it would take a pretty significant effort on their part to earn back my trust, and it wouldn't be worth it to them in the long run. Rather, I post this in the hopes that it keeps someone else from going down this same path.
It's the story of my life. Missed opportunities. It's already too late, I missed my chance to get filthy rich off bitcoin by not mining with my 7970 for all of 2012, there's nothing I can do now that will make up for it and I don't know why I thought pouring hundreds of dollars down the drain would.
Don't get lost in the same trap I did. Curb your appetite for the gigglehashes, and be content with the 20 or 30 doge you now receive per day with your dual core CPU. Or just be happy hanging around on IRC or reddit collecting tips and watching as people happily burn billions of doge. ASIC mining is a dangerous hobby to get into, and it's easy to lose your ass if you're not careful.
I leave you with a Kenny Rogers song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jj4nJ1YEAp4
Time to fold 'em and run.
tl;dr:
  1. Doge is fun. I bought 4 or 5 video cards this year to mine more doge, because doge is fun.
  2. I bought a few furies for funsies.
  3. Price drops on the furies the same day I buy a Widow. Price drops on the Widows shortly thereafter.
  4. GAWminers doesn't want to go out of business, won't credit me the full amount of the price drop.
  5. Bought a couple of Lightning X6's on OneMiner
  6. Turns out OneMiner is GAWminers. My bad.
  7. GAWminers cuts price on Black Widow by another couple hundred dollars.
  8. GAWminers doesn't want to go out of business, but won't stop dropping prices immediately after stupid people like me purchase hundreds of dollars worth of hardware.
  9. This isn't fun anymore. Don't make the same mistakes I did.
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