You Get What You Asked For

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It seems like we’re getting a lot of people new to buying high-performance computer equipment, so it’s a good time to tell or remind people of good buying habits.

When you buy equipment, it’s important to support reputable, competent dealers, even if they charge a bit more. I realize that getting the few extra dollars to spend can be really rough for many of you, but unfortunately, the bad guys know that, too.

If you hand your money to resellers who are only truthful about their sales phone number, you’re not only hurting yourself.

You’re telling the bad resellers that it’s OK to snare you in with a low price, then screw around with you. You prove to them that other suckers will keep coming. You’re telling the good retailers it doesn’t pay to be honest and spend the extra money to make sure customers are (reasonably) satisfied.

This is not to say that all or even most resellers with lower ratings are pure evil. Most of the time, I think something else is happening.

The computer hardware market is extremely competitive. Profit margins are nearly zilch, and even if a company doesn’t engage in flat-out disreputable practices, their bottom line makes many make decisions that eventually hurt you.

They may not be able to pay good wages, so they can’t get good people to take your order or ship. They may not be able to pay for the infrastructure and support to catch orders that fall inbetween the cracks, or to spend the money to remedy them quickly.

This is what I think happens most of the time. You read the comments from middling- to low-rated places and it’s like reading reseller Jekkyl and Hyde. When everything works perfectly, no problem. One glitch, and the system flops.

You may say, “That’s not my problem.” Oh yes, it becomes your problem when you buy from them. Whether you like it or not, you buy into a company’s policies and problems when you buy from them. Their policies, not yours.

If a company makes a two dollar profit from your sale; you can’t rationally expect them to spend a hundred dollars’ worth of expenses and services to make you happy. They can’t do that regularly, that’s economic suicide.

You won’t buy from them again? You may think you can single-handedly make or break a company, but don’t be surprised if that doesn’t exactly send shivers down that company’s spine. Guys making 1 or 2% margins can’t afford goodwill that costs them far more than they’re ever likely going to make from any repeat business that you might give them.

The customer is always right? Please. If you owned a auto dealership, and I walked in demanding the best car you have for ten dollars, do you give it to me? Well, why not?

The key concept is “reasonable,” and being reasonable applies to you, too.

Don’t just shop on price, shop for the best price from reputable dealers that at least deliver the goods timely just about all the time and provide reasonable services for the price.

If you expect more in the way of services, expect to pay more, too. Nobody’s salaries are being paid by the Tech Fairy. You shouldn’t expect and certainly don’t get five-star treatment when you check into a Motel 8; don’t expect the same from the low-price Pricewatch listing.

That’s what this is for. It’s not perfect, but it’s very good. Use it. Read the comments. Discount the clearly rationality-challenged customers (something you don’t get from looking at a single number) and the rare mishap, but if lots of people complain about the same sort of thing, that should tell you something.

Might take you an extra fifteen minutes and a few extra dollars to check places out. How much time and money does it cost you to make multiple phone calls to find out why you haven’t gotten something or dispute credit card charges or ship back the wrong item).

If you think it can’t happen to you, just look at the comments from people who bought at one of the low-ranked places. Every one of them didn’t think it would happen to them, either.

Use your dollars to reward the good and punish the bad or inept.

Email Ed

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