As do many other overclockers, I spend more time than I like to think about browsing hardware sites. So I have real affection for a site that makes it easy. One that loads fast and, most importantly, doesn’t make me beg or grovel to find out HOW MUCH. You would think more venders would pay attention to these simple rules. Most shoppers are comparison shoppers – we want the price right up front. Any time a vender wants me to fill out a credit app before telling me the price: I LEAVE and I DON’T come back!
NATA COMPUTERS is a past master of all these aspects of customer service. They provide a pleasant uncrowded space in which to browse. Want to know what happens when things go wrong? Who to call for support? You won’t have to spend a half hour searching for a contact number or a statement of policy. Every product page lists these things at the bottom of the page. Got the wrong page? No back clicking, the site menu is printed on each page as a side bar. Just re-select from anywhere on the site.
Was there anything I didn’t like? Not much, really. I would like to have seen a wider selection of video cards, especially in the GeForce category. NATA carries only Leadtek. Nothing wrong with Leadtek, I just like a variety of options. The Processor selection tends to limit choice when it comes to retail or OEM, favoring the OEM CPUs.
But inasmuch as NATA offers a 1 year warranty and states right out front that overclocking IS for them an entirely acceptable practice, who can complain? This is a store you should consider as a possible source for most things you want to put in your box. They carry quality goods – that’s a limitation I can live with. New to overclocking? Not quite ready to headline the show and build your own? Overclockers.com’s experience with NATA indicates strongly that is a company one should consider a viable option.
Two areas I’d like to see changed: The first is Peltiers – I couldn’t find any! What can I say? I’m looking around for one and NATA no gots. The second is Watercooling – another blank. Do I really consider this a fair criticism? YES I DO! Do I expect NATA to change just because overclockers wish it? YES I DO. Does this seem unreasonable to other overclockers? You tell me, you can tell NATA too. Why didn’t I ask them in my interview? Wish I had. Next time I might remember.
I spoke with Lee Isensee, Sales Manager of NATA Computers to get more of an idea about what they are all about. What follows are his responses to my questions:
How did NATA get started?
A few of us Rhode Island computer hardware junkies got together and decided that we could do better than “the other guy” with some good marketing and financial backing which we cannot disclose.
How long have you been in business?
What was the most difficult obstacle for you to overcome as a new startup enterprise?
Keeping up with new technology (and the lack of sleep/eating/family/etc).
How large is your staff?
Do you maintain a storefront as well as an online presence? What are the major pros and cons of doing both?
Yes, Actually we were an Internet-only based company first but we had a lot of Rhode Island customers and they were getting nailed for S&H and tax so we helped them out and opened up a walk-in store. Seeing that we were already in a prime location in Rhode Island, it was a great add-on to our Internet sales.
- Pros of retail store – meeting other hardware junkies and getting new ideas for products.
- Cons or retail store – CompUSA, Gateway, Two (2) Malls and 6 other computer shops all down the road selling poor quality systems. Having to explain to people that they really are not getting all that they are paying for when you buy an Emachine or other type quality products.
- Pros of Internet store – Once again GREAT IDEAS from customers!! People can do research so they know exactly what they want and weigh the differences.
- Cons of Internet store – Other companies. They lie about a lot of things and it confuses people a lot and keeps them from buying on-line and trusting honest companies.
What do you feel your specialty is?
Customer Service and High End Components at good prices.
What services distinguish you from other vendors?
You can actually call up and speak to us. We are more than just a one-man operation. We know what we are selling because we test each thing before we even consider selling that item.
Web retailing is becoming big business. Competition from large distributors becoming web retailers is driving prices down – good for consumers, tough for smaller retailers. How do you compete in this environment?
Once Again – CUSTOMER RELATIONS!!!
The little man may not always have the ABSOLUTE lowest price but it is close in price (usually only a dollar difference) and you get person-to-person attention.
If I look on Pricewatch, I can buy things cheaper than what you advertise. Why would I buy from NATA?
We feel that our prices are already extremely competitive and our products are always new, not used. Many companies cannot assure the integrity of their products (Pulls / refurbs). Also we take each customer’s shipping and handling on a one by one basis, not flat fees like other companies. If you have a question about your S&H before you order, call us we will tell you what it will be.
When I checked with Reseller Ratings I noted that you’ve maintained a rather impressive 6.9 with 16 respondents; What makes NATA a better vendor for a consumer than your competitors?
As mentioned before and in the comments on resellerratings.com, customer support is key.
What percentage of sales is accounted for by repeat business?
Just about 18% – we are growing daily and this number shows it.
What percentage of sales is accounted for by internet business?
Close to 75%, and proud of it.
Profit margins on hardware are very thin. Is all the effort worth it?
It takes a special type of person (GEEK) to love this market. It is more about the love of the industry than the money.
Where would you like NATA to be a year from now, five years from now?
Offering the same person-to-person relations that we do now, just at a larger level.
Is there anything you’d like to change in your business model?
Not really – it seems to work (unlike computers); don’t fix it unless it is broken. Just keep up the quality at all levels.
Unfortunately some venders don’t seem to think twice about selling poorly made or wildly incomparable goods. What measures do you take to ensure your customers’ satisfaction in this area?
We Hate Junk!!
Actually just about 99.99% of everything we sell we have tested one and beatin’ it silly. If it is good enough to run in my home machine it is good enough to sell.
If I were to call you and say a certain part I just received from you, lets say a CPU, works great in my friend’s machine but not in mine, what would you say?
One of the sales people would walk you through a few questions so we could get a good idea of what you are running (BTW: it is OK to tell us that your CPU is OC’d) so we can help you. If one of the sales reps can’t help you then you go to our tech we will walk you through a few more questions (this usually take no more than 5 minute **toll-free 888 number**) if none of this fixes your problem then we will issue an RMA number. Then we try it out here in our shop using similar (if not the exact same) hardware.
Do you maintain a tech line, and if so when is it available?
Yes we do. It is available the same time that our regular office hours are M-F 10:00a – 7:00p / Sat 11:00a – 5:00p.
Parts being returned must be the bane of a re-sellers existence; is there any way for a re-seller to cut down on this?
Yes, quality manufacturers. In this industry you get what you pay for.
If there is one truth you would like a customer to understand about NATA, what would it be?
We value each customer and their business.
What is your personal computer like?
Which one of us? Well as an example our tech:
- Super Micro 801server case (yes THAT case, dual 300W HS PSU’s)
- PIII 550E Coppermine (running at 853)
- SOYO 6BA+IV or ABIT BE6 r.1 (depends on mood)
- 256 Megs PC133 Infineon (Original – Germany – B)
- 4 X 40Gig 7200 RPM Maxtor ATA66 HD’s
- 2 X 3Com 905B NIC’s
- Leadtek GeForce 256 64Meg DDR
- SB Live! Value
- Oh yeah the fun part (VOS32)
- And some other “stuff”
*Note: this system changes on a daily basis
When I contacted you asking for this interview you were gracious enough to say yes. Any regrets?
Nah, we always like to help out review sites.
If there were one question you wished we had thought to ask, what would it be?
You were pretty thorough, good enough.
Thanks to Lee of NATA Computers for his candid responses to our questions. NATA has provided Overclockers.com with review material in the past but has not paid Overclockers.com for any advertising.