Why a Business Should Never Buy a Computer from a Big Box Store.

Being in the computer business for the last 20+ years, I’m surprised daily how little business owners care about their customers. A customer’s wait-time and overall experience is greatly affected by the quality of the equipment utilized by the business owner. The practice by businesses generally seems to be, “How little do I need to spend on my computers and maintenance?” The same owner who swears that he has his customers’ best interests in mind, is the person who inconveniences you by making you wait when his system crashes, or is slow, or is so out-dated that your information he is storing on the system is not even secure (because his password is “bob” and he is still running XP). 

Why in this age, do we feel we can cut corners when it comes to technology?

And how the heck did we let the big box stores convince us that buying a consumer-grade computer for our business, is the best choice?

The big box store situation drives me crazy. I hate it when people are fooled by carefully crafted Big Box marketing and are insulted when you suggest buying locally, like you are trying to sucker them in.

Today I was again posed the same question at an office, “Why should I buy local, when I can save and purchase at COSTCO?” I guess the fact that I personally made the journey to their office was not enough.

I will try to do a comparison now of purchasing at a big box store, and purchasing from a locally owned company, selling business-grade computers

Lets compare two computer systems:

Big Box:
Acer AXC-603 Desktop PC (Intel Pentium J2900 / 1TB HDD / 8GB RAM / Windows 8.1) $399.99 

Locally Owned Company:
Lenovo ThinkCenter : Tiny (I Love this comparison, because this is the brand Box stores actually use for their internal systems/POS, as they need reliable systems for themselves, but they don’t sell them to the public.

$639
Core i3 4130
4GB DDR3 500GB DVD RW
VGA + DP
Win 7 Pro 64
1 Yr Onsite Warranty

Now first of all, you are probably like, “Look at the price, look at the specs. I told you so!”

Well, here is how Big Box stores do their marketing. They jack up the RAM and hard drive specs because these are the things that people know the most about when they buy a computer. 

If we compare the Acer processor to the Lenovo i3, the J2900 is quite slower than the i3, almost 1/3 less. The processor is the car engine in a computer, the hard drive is the trunk, the ram would be how many back seat drivers you can handle in your car at once.

So it is very important to have as much horsepower as possible. This will save you time in the long run. Your time is valuable and if you have to wait or only run one application at a time, you are wasting your time and the customer’s time, not to mention your money.

“What about the big hard drive”? Do you need a 1TB? “Yes I have lots of movies and pictures and I edit them”. And you want to run this on the lowest end processor engine? You would rather have a big trunk but a hamster for an engine? With all of the cloud storage solutions out there, there is no sense to have all of your data on a single drive without a backup. Plus why do you require so much storage if the system is used for business? 

“How about the Ram?” - Most programs can only handle 4GB of ram at a time, and again, a faster engine is more of an advantage, because you cannot easily upgrade it, while adding another 4Gb of ram to your system is only $59, if you even need it. 

The operations system is Windows 8 in the Acer. Yes, but it is the consumer version of 8. There are two types of operating systems -  “Home” and “Pro”. Big Box sells “home” because it is less expensive. 
The Pro edition is geared toward business. The Lenovo comes with Windows 7 Pro with a free upgrade to 8 Pro if you need it. Why is Windows 7 Pro installed? Because most business software does not keep up with the newer operating systems, and also you don’t want to retrain your staff to use a different operating system.

The Lenovo system is ready right out of the box. Most Big Box computer systems are subsidized by software manufacturers, meaning they pay to have their software installed on your system. This is called “bloatware” in our industry, meaning your car is heavy loaded before you drive it out of the parking lot.
Of course you can have this extra software removed. This is called optimization by the big box stores, meaning for a fee (usually $100) they will remove it.

Warranty; please do not get me started on how Big Box stores take advantage of you with warranties. Most warranties only allow you to bring the unit in to be sent away for a few weeks or replaced, minus your data. 
This Lenovo comes with a 1-year onsite warranty out of the box. Most Lenovo desktops come with 3-year onsite warranty. These units use the highest quality parts in the computer industry. They have components like fans that are designed to run 24 hours 7 days a week, quietly.

If the unit breaks down, a trained tech will go to your office at no cost to you, and fix the problems, taking special care not to disturb your business with any replacement that he has to perform.

Speaking of technicians; (and this is solely my opinion) there are good techs at the Box stores, but I have yet to hear any of my peers dreaming of quitting their current job to be a technician at a Box store. It’s like a chef craving to work at a fast food place.  I will say they are a great place for learning the ropes when you first get out of school. If you rely on your system for business however, wouldn’t you want the unit to be fixed by certified technicians who know this product inside and out?

So, is your business worth $239 dollars more? Will you save money the first time your low quality computer fails? Will you be confident that what you bought is something you and your staff can rely on daily? Do you enjoy getting stressed out when your computer is either slow or not even there because it is being serviced? 

If your business and your customers are important to you, then buy the right gear, and Buy Local.