I want this misery purchase process to end. I never expected desktop shopping to be more difficult than it was in 2004.
Many people will walk into a retail establishment and purchase a computer. That place is not necessarily a store like Best Buy or Fry’s. There are desktop computers at office supply stores and warehouse/big box stores.
I am of the mind that you shouldn’t buy a computer the same place you can buy a pair of bra and panties but that is just me.
There lies the problem. If you need help or assistance you are stone out of luck. You might get lucky having assistance to make the purchase. You will be very lucky to obtain help to make an informed purchase.
If you need to shop brick and mortar retail stores you must prepare as if you are entering a combat zone. One of the things you ought to know about is model number and tiers.
The Same Fish with A Different Name
Remember that touching life lesson Circuit City commercial where the little boy went back to the tech store to get the percentage purchase refund because another store sold the same item for less within a certain amount of days?
And how all the other stores pledge to do the same thing? Giggles. Because what really happens now days is that some stores have exclusive agreements with computer vendors to produce models for their customers.
Best Buy. Costco. Wal-Mart. Office Max.. Can't shake a stick without hitting a vendor who doesn't ask for or have a store specific version of a desktop computer.
Product Models and Tiers
Let me put it this way. You have a base line model of computers. Within the model number there are variations according to price, parts, quality and user needs.
There is home and office, entertainment, gaming and business. Within each of the different models there are tiers from the cheap model to the most expensive in the model line.
- General Users
- Bleeding Edge
Now add the option that retail vendors can ask for a special version of a desktop in a particular model.
Sometimes there are advantages. The system might have additional memory or hard drive space added to the computer. Or a price break if an item is not included. In the Office Max example above it is 6GB of memory and the styling of the case is a bit different. Same machine.
You can purchase a model for $479 at Sam's Club with 8GB of memory, essentially the same model. The case is more shiny and the logo has been moved to the center. Inside where it counts I'm thinking this was on the same conveyer belt.
This explains why when you try to bring that Sunday paper ad into your local store the young clerk will barely look down at the ad. He or she will say something to the effect. “That isn’t the same model number. We don’t have that in the store.”
Technically, the clerk is correct. It could be the exact same computer or one with stylistic variations but if the parts numbers or features don’t match, and they won’t, you don’t get the price difference.
The above examples don’t seem so bad but there are differences in the quality of the computers depending on where you shop.
And believe me, Best Buy, Fry’s or your local electronics store are in on the game as well.
The takeaway is you might get a better price or computer by moving up a product tier and being able to spot that computer at the retail level.
You will not be able to do this research in the store. You have to investigate this on-line by going to the retail vendor's web site and the computer makers web site..