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3 Reasons Why Businesses Should Avoid Department Store Computer Purchases

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Electrical retailers advertise huge discounts, run-out prices & great deals but small businesses can do a lot better, both in price and features.

Department stores feature a brand’s consumer line up, designed for home usage even though they may share technical spec’s with the business grade lines. Where a consumer device might have a flashy case and glossy screen, business computers are designed from the ground up with design features specifically aimed at all day – every day usage. These may include magnesium alloy cases instead of plastic and matte non reflective screens instead of those oh-so-annoying highly reflective screens.

1) Consumer vs. Business Grade Warranty

Consumer devices come with low priority warranties which can have long turn around times. It is common to see at least a 2 week turn around time for repairs. Missing a computer for this length of time has the potential to cripple a small business.

The service is normally Return to Manufacturer and there is not always a local service centre, meaning you’re required to pack it and ship it interstate. I have personally seen warranty repairs taking months rather than days.

Business machines feature a Next Business Day Onsite or Priority Pickup & Return Service. This greatly minimises the downtime from a warranty claim. A 1 year manufacturer warranty is standard while you can upgrade to 3 (or even 5) . No headache, no drama; just call support and they send someone to your home or office.

How much? Price is not even an issue here, a HP 3 Year Onsite Next Business Day Hardware Support with Accidental Damage Protection is only $264. ($88 per year)

Comment: Be wary of the extended warranty upgrade pitched by the department store salesperson. Consumer computers have 1 year warranty, the extra years may be serviced by a 3rd party; it’s not a true manufacturer warranty, and therefore parts may be unavailable after the first year.

2) Misinformation & Incorrect Advice

Almost all small businesses run the same software set, this is Microsoft Office and MYOB. Anything currently on the shelf will run these programs adequately, and you simply do not need the ‘upgraded model’ with its extra speed and 750 gigabyte hard-drive.

I regularly go on buying trips with clients and I am constantly amazed at the tall tales being told by salespeople. Or alternatively, the limited product knowledge displayed when asked specific questions.

It’s important to remember, these are not support techs or IT consultants, they are sales people. Their job is to assist you through the buying process.

A diligent IT guy will be telling you about backups and disaster recovery, department store sales assistants will be pushing a useless hardware upgrade.

3) Limited After Sales Support

At some point after the purchase you will require support, be it for hardware or software. Ideally you should purchase computers from people that actually know how to use them.

Creating a relationship with an IT firm or individual opens up a myriad of information at your disposal. Chances are, they have seen your issue before and know how to fix it in a timely manner.

IT firms know the hardware they are selling, they most likely use that equipment every day. They use it, they like it, they are happy to sell and support it. They stand behind their products and recommend them based on real life experience, not commission levels.

Final Comment:

Small Business owners are especially price conscious but purchasing a business grade computer is not necessarily an expensive exercise. Prices are on par with consumer devices, while the products themselves are far more robust (and offer better service levels). You may find consumer devices offer slightly better technical spec’s however these are inconsequential when performing your daily business tasks.

Which One & How Much:

@$1450 = Dell Vostro 230s Desktop PC (Intel Core 2) + 23 inch monitor + 2 year Next Business Day Onsite Warranty + Colour Laser Printer + Office 2010 Standard + Adobe Acrobat Standard. Wow that’s a great deal! Available directly from Dell.com.au

@$1100 = HP ProBook 4520s Laptop PC (Core i3 350M, 15.6 inch TFT Screen) + 3 years On-Site Next Business Day Hardware Support with Accidental Damage Protection. Available from Harris Technology or your preferred supplier.

@$1270 = Toshiba Tecra A11 Laptop (Core i3 370M) – 15.6 inch TFT screen) + 3 Year Next Business Day On-Site Service (Aus + N.Z. Metro) Prices sourced from Harris Technology or your preferred supplier.