Psystar office exists, but not yet open to the public

Psystar, the controversial seller of Mac clones that has drawn a lot of press scrutiny over the past week, seems to be in the process of getting its new office up and running.

Psystar is apparently operating out of an office with an attached warehouse space in the city of Doral in Miami-Dade County.

The front door of the locale, at 10475 NW 28th. St. in Doral, is clearly labeled with the Psystar logo and the building features warehouse-type loading docks. It is in an area of similar warehouse-type buildings that is close to major highways, like the Florida Turnpike, and to Miami International Airport.

During a quick visit by IDG News Service on Monday at around 9 a.m., the front office door was unlocked and a quick peek inside showed cans of paint on the floor, indicating that Psystar is likely in the process of conditioning its new digs.

However, a young man quickly emerged and said the company isn’t yet open to the walk-in public. After a few minutes, another young man came out of the locale and said that reporters have to make an appointment to be seen. He said that Rudy Pedraza, Psystar’s president, wasn’t yet in and politely indicated he would relay notice of IDG News Service’s visit to him.

IDG News Service had requested an interview with Pedraza on Friday both via phone and e-mail, but those queries haven’t been answered.

Psystar has attracted a lot of attention in the past week for several reasons, starting with its claim that it makes and sells a Mac clone, something Apple hasn’t allowed for years.

In addition to the possibility that it might be in violation of Apple’s licensing terms for its Mac OS, Psystar last week had its Web store go down, parted ways in unfriendly terms with its credit-card payment processor and endured accusations from bloggers that its operation is a scam.

Via its Web site and through comments some of its staffers have made to various news outlets, Psystar has defended itself, saying it runs a legitimate business and that it has been overwhelmed by buyers’ response to its Mac clone.

The company has said it had to scramble last week to move to a larger location and find a new payments processor. As of Monday, Psystar claims on its Web site that it is again accepting new orders for its Mac clone, called Open Computer, and that it has started to ship computers to buyers.

“It is our pleasure to inform you that our store is up and running thanks to our new high volume payment processor. To all, we challenge you, let’s see if we can max this one out,” reads a note on the company’s home page.

The note also says the company has started shipping computers to its customers. “Orders are being shipped in the order that they were received, don’t worry, you’ll get yours soon. Upon shipment an e-mail notification including tracking information will be sent to you automatically.”

While it’s clear that Psystar has put itself in danger of getting sued by Apple, it certainly doesn’t look like the company is running a scam operation, as has been suggested by a number of bloggers. The company has a working Web site, staffers who answer its phones and an easy-to-find physical location anyone can drive up to, since there is no gate limiting access to the facility. At this point, it looks more like a case of a startup company that did indeed get overwhelmed by response to its products and is struggling to meet the demand.

A base configuration of the Open Computer, without an operating system, costs $399, but for an extra $155 Psystar will install Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard with it.

Apple declined to comment.

On Friday, PowerPay, based in Portland, Maine, told Computerworld that it had terminated Psystar’s payment processing account earlier in the week because the Miami company had misrepresented what it would sell and failed to properly verify credit cards.

“In its application to PowerPay, PsyStar stated it expected to process a specific amount of credit card transactions per month, and that the product or service being sold was ‘consulting for information and communication solutions,’ ” Stephen Goodrich, CEO of Portland, Maine-based PowerPay, said via e-mail to Computerworld. PowerPay also felt uncomfortable that Psystar changed its address several times last week.

A Psystar employee who identified herself as Maria told Computerworld that the only reason PowerPay gave for canceling the account was that Psystar exceeded its transaction allowance. She denied that PsyStar had misrepresented what it was going to sell when it struck the agreement with PowerPay.

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