Hardware Vendor Blues


Sourcing PC Hardware

In a previous post I mentioned I would be installing a new PC system (Computer Upgrade). Seven years ago I was going through the same process, and found it impossible to purchase the components I wanted from a retailer:

Quotes were requested from seven local retailers, providing them with a fully detailed list of the components required; Motherboard, CPU, Graphics card, Hard Drive, RAM etc. Each item was specified by Make and Model, and Manufacturers Part Number.

Quotes were provided by six of these, in a time frame from 2 days to 10 days!

Not one of these retailers provided a quotation based on the specified equipment

I can clearly remember in three instances the equipment offered was not even close to the specifications of my requirement. In the other instances there had at least been some effort had been made to match the specs, but not adequately. The tendency in all cases was to suggest items with lower performance specs.

This occurrence prompted me to enter the industry as a dealer in hardware and software.

Testing PC Retailers Today

I decided to repeat this process now. As the new system is for my own business use, there is no customer to be inconvenienced by delays in delivery. So after deciding exactly what I needed to get, I requested estimates from six outlets trading within an area radius of 15km of my business. Two of these were mall type retailers, the other four were more service oriented suppliers (who could be considered competitors).

Well guess what! A repeat of the previously describe situation. Four of the six responded with quotes. None of the quotes matched exactly the specified items. One of those who never bothered to quote is known to deal with my principal supplier, hence is able to provide the required parts…

When did the phrase in a specification “If the specified item is not currently available, please quote on the next higher spec model from the same manufacturer” come to mean “offer a lower grade product from a less reliable brand”, or offer a cheaper alternative simply because it is cheaper?

If the retailer is unable to source the specified components, then say so. Making an excuse “The suppliers are out of stock” is only acceptable if this is genuinely the case – when it is already known the suppliers (national distributors) have stock it is a blatant lie, and that company should not be considered.

Mercedes-Benz F400 "Carving" Prototype.

I can readily accept a particular trader does not sell a brand range – I don’t re-sell all brands either. Simply say so and ask if alternative products can be offered. (Someone looking to purchase a Mercedes Benz is not going to buy a Toyota). Don’t take several days to prepare an estimate based on different types!

In one case, I was in the vendors shop, and explained exactly what I wanted, emphasizing the need for a high performance system. The owner of the shop (that was established) pointed to a motherboard ‘in-stock’, which was an integrated system, cpu and on-board graphics already installed and proceeded to eulogise its virtues. No doubt suitable for for general office work, typing letters, and e-mail. It would fall over itself in my working environment.

Vendors Don’t Listen to Customers

Sales people, you need to listen to your customers. Don’t assume your prospective client will accept what you would like to sell. Annoy a prospect this way – you have no chance of getting this or future business. Even worse for you, you will not get a referral or a recommendation.

In the mind of the common PC retailer there appears to be only two possible uses for a computer system, ‘Home and General Office’, or ‘Gaming’. Mention anything else and their brain seems to return to default settings, the most basic level possible ‘Home & Office’. The terms ‘workstation’ and ‘power user’ apparently have no meaning in their limited knowledge of the industry they participate in.

Is it possible these traders have no concept on the computational requirements for a Windows PC to run twenty to thirty processor and memory intensive applications simultaneously? To run in excess of 200 processes (including system processes)? Often I have more than 80 web browser tabs open in three or four different browsers, and each is a ‘cpu process’, along with numerous other applications. And that is without the less demanding everyday apps like MS Word and Office Outlook. In the case of the ‘on-board graphics’ example cited previously I had already mentioned using dual displays!

Sadly ethics prevent me from mentioning the names of the businesses concerned.

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About Mike

Web Developer and Techno-geek Saltwater fishing nut Blogger

Posted on November 27, 2011, in Computer Hardware, General News and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Mossel Bay even worse – I would have thought you guys in Jhb would not have so many problems.

    Do you sell laptops?

  2. Interesting. As a thick headed ethnocentric American, I had never thought about those aspects of industry in Africa, India, Southern Asia, etc. But it makes perfect sense.

    One of my lesser accomplished hobbies is looking into various forms of snake oil and mystical claims from less developed areas of the world. Oddly enough, there are thousands of gullible people over here that believe “ancient wisdoms” from these areas must have better efficacy than modern science based medicine. Crazy over educated people trying to return to simpler ideas.

    It’s an interesting antipodal situation, consumers being exploited for being poor, uneducated, and simple versus wealthier consumers being exploited for their being over educated and wanting to be simple.

    I can’t help but feel this says something about the human condition as a whole.

  3. Every person I’ve met who works with computers, unless they know you personally, seems to think everyone else they meet knows absolutely nothing about computers. And can’t seem to change that “fact” in their minds.

    I am saddened, but unsurprised, to see that this extends outside the U.S. borders.

    • A sad fact of life these days. Too many of the people in the industry lack the background that comes from learning the right way, by trial and error, with few if any ‘study-guides’ to copy into the grey matter. At least the Linux community tend to have insight, although no doubt this is also changing now that Linux is so well established. (One reason I like Drupal CMS for web – you learn it yourself or not at all – no commercial courses to tech rubbish).

      It was an interesting experiment anyway, now to see if there’s some way to capitalise off it in the coming year.

      Locally, poor service delivery by business seems to be the norm (in all industries). As a nation we are unsophisticated consumers, with a national tendency to ‘not complain’. Additionally very many of our people lack adequate education, especially about technical matters, and the relatively low level of disposable income for most means price is very often the ruling consideration. Factors that open the door to consumer exploitation.

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