As an I.T provider, PC Repair Leeds is always asked for the cheaper product. “I need a cheap printer”. or “i need a cheap computer as i wont use it that often” or “I have seen some software and it is really good and doesn’t cost much…Is it any good?” The answer on the majority of occasions, is no!
Go back 10 years and the I.T world was a little different to today. “Tech” was more expensive. A new medium spec laptop could set you back £600 but today, a similar product is £450. If you have a problem with the item, all you had to do was pick up the phone. However, what has changed to accommodate the price, is quality, service, support and longevity.
Most I.T equipment is a combination of plastic components. If you think again of that laptop you bought 10 years ago, it was build robustly, with metal components, it was durable and you would expect the hardware to outlive the software. Today, most equipment is built from plastic to provide a lightweight product but also to save money. It is rare now for the hardware to outlive the software. A driving force of most I.T equipment is cost. There is less money around and much more online competition, especially from China. Products are mass produced cheaply in China and then shipped for sale in the UK or numerous online websites. Whilst a computer keyboard can cost you £7.00, you can also pay as much as £100.00. Like clothes, there is an element of buying the “brand name” but along with quality comes cost and a cheap keyboard will not last you as long as a more expensive one.
Wherever you buy your product, from the high street or the internet, a small element of the price contains service. The person who packs and ships your order or the person who serves you at the counter. Whilst customer service has never been strong in this country, the service we receive on the high street today is in most cases pathetic, for 2 reasons. Firstly, the choice on the high street is severely limited. A lot of the big names have gone leaving only 2 or 3 stores to purchase your laptop or computer. More and more people are turning to the internet which provides so much more choice. Secondly, the level of customer service in stores is so poor, this provides yet another reason to switch to the web. Staff are not trained on the specifications of each product and are more incentivised to sell you virus software because they get more commission than selling you a laptop.
How long would you expect your new laptop or printer or tv to last? Again, going back a few years, your newly purchased and gleaming laptop would be expected to last 5 to 6 years. A printer could be part of your family for the same period if not longer. Not any more. As mentioned above, products are being manufactured from plastic rather than metal. There are many advantages such as weight, build cost and aesthetics. However, if you buy a printer under £50, a general rule of thumb we apply is “if it lasts you over 12 months, you have done well”. One disadvantage to building “tech” with plastic is durability. If you drop a laptop, and the base cracks or a screen hinge snaps, there is little you can do to repair it. The repair process for equipment built using plastic components is very difficult. For example, the metal hinge that supports your laptop screen, is sonically welded to the plastic base plate of the laptop. If the hinge snaps, whilst it is possible to find a replacement hinge, the technology of sonic welding is not available outside of large factories. The only repair an engineer can do is to use an epoxy resin or glue. This does not have the same strength as sonic welding and therefore the repair cannot be long lasting.
What type of support are you looking for once you have bought that crucial bit of “tech”. Here at PC Repair Leeds, we buy new software and hardware everyday, either on behalf of our Clients or for use within our own offices. We generally use large trade suppliers for hardware and if we have an issue, we can pick up the phone and call them. However, what happens if you buy from the internet?
Recently, we were tasked with finding an alternate software company that protects children whilst they surf the net. There are many, many companies on the net who provide software meeting our criteria. However, how many were based in the UK? Had a contact telephone number for support? There location and company information easily available? The answer was a surprising zero. Out of 9 companies, not one of them had a telephone number, the country the company traded from was difficult to ascertain and support tickets or email addresses were missing. These companies were all on the first 2 pages of Google, some company names well known. If there is an issue with the hardware or software, how confident can you be your problem will be resolved?
In conclusion, if the price is cheap, its cheap for a reason. Either the quality, longevity, support or service will NOT be as expected. It doesn’t matter if you buy a cheap printer or an 42″ tv, if the price is less than you expected, look for the catch.
Remember that if you do contact a company, and you can speak to a real person, based in the UK, not in a call centre and not be kept on hold in a queue, that company will charge you a little more but remember…….isn’t that what you really want?