Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Buying Your Computer Equipment from an Office Supply Store

You can buy computer equipment from a number of places, including

mail order catalogs, Web sites, local computer retailers, electronics "superstores," and office supply stores. Each source offers its own advantages and disadvantages. When you order directly from a Web-only manufacturer such as Dell or Gateway, you get competitive prices as well as the ability to specify exactly how the vendor should configure your computers. When you buy from a local retailer, on the other hand, you might get better service and support from a company with whom you have a personal relationship.

Where do office supply stores fall on this spectrum? In many cases, you'll find a reasonable selection of computers at a good price. Many office supply stores have their own computer service and support departments, along with special services such as extended warranties and training classes. Most stores offer other types of office equipment, such as cash registers and copiers, giving you the luxury of one-stop shopping.

On the downside, many office supply stores treat computer sales as just one part of a much larger business that includes everything from PCs to paper clips. You may find that a store sells most of its systems in fixed configurations, which means that you'll pay more if you want to buy customized equipment — or have to pay for features you don't really want. In addition, some office supply stores can't offer the same level of service and support that you'll get from other sources.

When you decide where to buy your computers, remember that in today's intensely competitive market computer prices and configurations change almost weekly. Don't buy a computer anywhere until you've had a chance to shop around.


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