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Live Fast. Die Young. Leave a good-looking web site.

You'd think a company that came up with a product with a name like the iToaster and offered to sell it for an unbelievably low price would have the common sense to come up a contingency plan in the unlikely event that things suddenly went...

Think again.

This Seattle-based startup made a huge splash last year with the widely publicized news that it would offer consumers a budget pc, the WEBzter, for only $299, a deal that included lifetime free-Internet access provided by Earthlink network.

Customers thought the offer was a pretty cool deal , despite the fact that the machines came without floppy drives, a CD-ROM, or even the Windows operating system.

The price seemed too good to be true.

And it was.

Thousands placed orders. When the machines never showed up, customers started asking questions. Then they started making phone calls and sending the company angry e-mail. Before long, the story was all over the web.

Microworkz eventually blamed suppliers for the delay. The suppliers feigned surprise, claiming that the parts in question had never even been ordered.

The truth of the matter?

It's unlikely we'll ever know for certain, although the company has admitted some wrongdoing and President Rick Latman has agreed to step down in favor of "more grown up" management according to a report by Wired News.

This much is certain. Microworkz isn't out of the woods yet. The Washington State Attorney General has filed charges of deceptive business practices against the company. To make matters worse, former business partner Earthlink has filed a suit against the company as well, claiming it is owed money for the software it provided to Microworkz customers.

On a final, perhaps terminal, note for the company, the Federal Trade Commission is also rumored to be contemplating similar action.

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Live fast. Die young. Leave a good looking web site

Microworkz unplugged