I'm one of those people who loves a bargain. I spend hours rummaging around in junk shops, charity stores, jumble sales and discount outlets. After playing with computers, it's probably one of my favourite relaxations. And browsing around for discounted computer kit is the best of both worlds. I just love it. But I don't do my digging in walk-in stores. When I'm looking for computer kit, I do my bargain-hunting online.
Buying a discount or surplus computer on the net is not as scarey as you might think. You don't have to trust yourself to unknown and faceless vendors on certain auction sites - we've all heard the horror stories of customers allegedly sending money and getting nothing in return. A young man in the UK was recently jailed for defrauding ebay customers of more than £300,000 — over $500,000. The problem is, when you buy from a private seller you lose many of your rights, because the Sale of Goods Act only applies to purchases from recognised dealers, not Mr Jones or Mrs Smith round the corner.
Then there are online or mail order discount stores. Some of these have also disappeared without trace after seeming to offer much value for little expense. And again, it's the poor customer who has lost out. And there are a number of suppliers well known to Watchdog viewers for offering great deals - that turn out to be less great once the goods arrive.
But it doesn't have to be like this.
There are dealers which have been going for long enough, and with a broad enough customer base, to have built up a reputation for quality and reliability. Some of them are retailers of long standing who were favourites of us geeks long before the internet existed, now trading online. Others have been trading on the net for many years, and built up their reputation in that way.
My top three recommended suppliers for discounted and surplus computer products are:
1 Morgan Computers
I remember visiting Morgan Computers in the mid eighties. It was a veritable treasure trove for the computer enthusiast - you never knew what you would find, and you were almost always guaranteed to find something exciting. These people weren't (and aren't) just dealers; they actually knew about their products. You could ask them questions about the capabilities of the machines, and get meaningful answers - which was a pretty rare thing in those days.
Nowadays, Morgan Computers are one of Europe’s leading dealers in surplus, end-of-line and refurbished computer equipment. Established over 15 years they have four retail locations and a flourishing website; the site offers a full range of equipment with simple secure online ordering, stocks and prices reviewed daily, a bargain basement section and weekly stock updates by email. And for added peace of mind, they are members of the Which? Webtrader scheme operated by the Consumer Association of Great Britain.
2 Morgan Auctions
This is a sister company to Morgan Computers. Established since 1997 (which makes them almost veterans in this field), Morgan Auctions sells a wide range of overstock, refurbished and second user computer equipment. All goods are sold without reserve – and bids start at just £2!
You need to register before you can bid, and bids are binding, so obviously don't bid more than you want to pay. But if you like sniffing out a bargain, and you want to feel a little more relaxed about getting what you pay for at auction, this is one to visit.
This is a completely different approach. Kelkoo doesn't sell anything. What they do is search the net for you, bringing together all the best prices for the product you are searching for, providing links to the approproate supplier in each case. For example, recently I used them to find myself a replacement mobile after mine fell out of my pocket on the bus (duh!) - and I got a real bargain. One of my favourite sites for drooling, even when I don't have any specific purchase in mind!
I'm not going to tell you to buy your next computer from a discount supplier, only you can make that decision. But I hope I have at least given you some options to make your decision as to whether to take the plunge a little less worrying.
Have fun rummaging!
©2005 Frann Leach, www.best-bytes.co.uk
About the Author
Frann lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. She has her own internet marketing business and is always on the lookout to recruit go-getters like herself.
Find out more: here