Home > Computer Hardware > When not to use a small hardware provider

When not to use a small hardware provider

In the last two weeks, I’ve learnt a valuable lesson when it comes to dealing with small computer dealers providing hardware: be wary when placing a large order with them. Our school replaces all the computers in our main computer lab every 2 years. For a number of years now, most of the school’s hardware has been supplied by one person, a former pupil of the school.

This arrangement has worked out quite well, as the supplier has often gone to great lengths to get specialised equipment or to perform some service. That being said, the quality of service has slacked off quite a bit this year, to the point where orders were not being processed, the guy being unavailable on his phone when we need to contact him. Needless to say, this was brought up before the school committed to purchasing 40 new computers from him. It was also decided that the school would not pay upfront as they had in the past, as this actually contravened the school’s governance rules on finance. The supplier was brought into a meeting where he was told that while the school would make this purchase from him, he would be on final warning and that he had to tighten up his service.

Our supplier agreed to the tighter terms and conditions, and promised us that as soon as payment was made, we would receive our equipment within 7 days. This turned out to be false, as we have received equipment in batches. First 20 computers, then the other 20 and 20 monitors. I have not had a qualm with this, as it has let us manage things in smaller batches, but I know that the equipment should ideally have arrived together.

Unfortunately, the last 20 monitors have yet to arrive. When I phoned our supplier to ask, he informed me that his suppliers couldn’t get stock, no stock in other cities, Christmas pressure on stock and other excuses. While I can understand no stock and other excuses, what I find inexcusable is that he didn’t inform us of what’s happening. It took a call from me to him to find out about this new delay. I was not amused by the delay, as this seriously upset our schedule for holiday work and preparing the room for the new year. I don’t yet know if the supplier is going to be axed next year because of this gaffe, but I do know that it has seriously pissed my colleague off at work. My colleague has subsequently become very rude and abrasive, something I will write about in another post.

All in all, my warning is this: be careful when purchasing large quantities of computing goods from small suppliers or one man shows. Larger firms may not offer a discount or the same level of intimate contact and support, but at least you are assured that if you order 40 computers, you will get them at the agreed upon date without lame excuses about credit limits, suppliers being out of stock or other stories.

  1. Abrasive Colleague
    June 3, 2011 at 14:35

    I am looking forward to your article about your abrasive colleague. Regards, your abrasive colleague 😉

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