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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Purchasing PCs and Components | Making The Purchase ]

Getting A Quote

If you are buying components or a pre-made retail PC then you know exactly what you are getting when you make the purchase. At least, you should know what you are getting, and the salesperson and/or manufacturer should be able to answer any questions you may have. At the very least, there will be no confusion about what you are ordering, assuming you are careful in how you place your order.

When you custom-order a PC however, there is more room for miscommunication regarding the system, its components, options and pricing. This is especially so if you spend some time with a salesperson working on different configuration and pricing options. The last thing you want is to finally figure out what you want in your PC, order it, and then when the PC shows up, find out that something is incorrect. This is not a common occurrence, but it does happen.

Therefore, whenever you are buying a build-to-order or configure-to-order PC, get a written quote sent to you (fax is fine; email less so). The quote should include all of the following information:

  • A listing of each and every component included in the system.
  • The manufacturer and basic specifications for each component. The PC builder should be including sufficient detail that you know what you are getting. For example, "hard drive" is useless; you already know there's a hard drive in there. What you want is something like this: "30 GB IBM 7200 RPM hard drive, model number DTLA-307030".
  • The full price of the system, with any additional charges for sales tax, shipping or anything else clearly marked.
  • A listing of any software included in the system, including the operating system, and a note about whether or not the software will be installed by the PC builder.
  • The warranty on the system and its basic terms (length, what's included, etc.)
  • An estimated completion date for the system.
  • Anything else that you and the salesperson agreed on, if it is out of the ordinary.

Some salespeople, even ones at good companies, may balk a bit if asked for the detailed list above, for the simple reason that most people never ask for a quote when buying a system. Don't let such reluctance deter you. While you may well be fine with less detail than I mention above, a reasonable quote of some sort is something any salesperson should expect to be asked for. You don't need to know the make and model of every nut and bolt, but the more you know, the better.

Another reason to have a written quote is to protect yourself. PC companies sometimes make mistakes when building systems. Unfortunately, some of them are quick to blame the customer in that circumstance, insisting that they "only built what you specified". If you have a written quote then you have proof of what was supposed to have been built; without it, you just have an argument on your hands.

And if you think you don't need a quote on your new PC, all I can leave you with is a cliché: "a verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's printed on". :^)

Next: Order, Stock, Price and Ship Date Confirmation

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