Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Where To Buy Computer Parts

I've been pushing TigerDirect, and their predecessor CompUSA, for years. But everything changes: circumstances, opinions, you name it. And from this point on, while I might occasionally buy computer parts and peripherals from TigerDirect, I'm not comfortable advising anyone else to do so. And I'll only use them when all my other sources fail me.

Why the change of heart? Last year, TigerDirect closed nearly all of their stores, becoming primarily a mail-order-only business. And Dec 24, they stopped accepting returns, stopped allowing refunds, FOR ANY REASON. Manufacturers' warranties are still as good (or otherwise) as they ever were, but the minute they ship your goods, TigerDirect has finished with the deal; if your item is DOA, it's between you and the manufacturer. Maybe that's your idea of customer service, but it's certainly not mine.

Read their new policy here:

So, What Are Your Alternatives?

If you're lucky enough to have an electronics distributor nearby who stocks computer parts, I envy you... they're getting more and more scarce, especially outside the major metropolitan areas. And, as in all else, you'll pay for the convenience, in cash.

As always, I recommend the nearest Dollar Tree for USB connectors, cheap earplugs/headphones, and cheap styluses for tablets and phones. Mice, keyboards, powered speakers, and laptop cool pads, I get at Big Lots. For parts and peripherals, check out, eBay, Amazon, and/or Google Shopping.  Best Buy is my store of last resort, though I love that they recycle just about anything you can think of, for free... and if you're in a hurry, it's awfully nice not to have to wait for shipping.

Here's a few considerations when shopping online:
  • Read the product descriptions VERY carefully. If you buy the wrong item, even if they take it back, you might still get hit with the return shipping cost.
  • Always use Paypal or Paypal Credit to buy online. In case of dispute, the buyer is always right: the seller takes all the risk in every deal. And all Paypal Credit purchases are "6 months Same As Cash."
  • Use a tabbed browser, and shop several sites at once for the same item. This is the best way to compare 'apples to apples', so to speak.
  • Make sure you include shipping charges when comparing prices. I've seen items sell for a fraction of the nearest competitor's price, but with outrageous shipping costs, while the other guy included free or nearly-free shipping... again, be sure you're comparing apples to apples.
  • Don't be afraid of buying an item because it says it will ship from China; if you can stand the increased shipping time, the smaller purchase price will leave you feeling good about the deal. Remember, chances are the item you buy here and the item you buy from China were made in the same Chinese factory; you're paying considerably more for the convenience of getting it in less time from a nearby middle man who already stocked up from the Chinese manufacturer. Again, use Paypal.
There are a couple of additional considerations when using Google Shopping:
  • After you've typed in your search term and gotten your first page of results, look at the top of the list, on the right... where it says  Sort: Default, click the downward-pointing arrow, and select  Price - Low to High. You need to do this every time you type in a new search term.
  • It's even more crucial that you read the item descriptions thoroughly on Google Shopping. A large number of merchants post a picture of an item, but the description of a component part or accessory for that item: what you see ain't necessarily what you get. Even using Paypal, you could still get burned if you don't read the description.
Hope I've helped...