Thursday, February 19, 2009

Waiting For the FedEx Man!

After visiting a handful of retailers and websites the past week, I finally decided on a purchase. A laptop. Mine is hosed, and well, with starting college this summer, it's probably a good idea to get a newer one (and a second battery for that one, but first things first.)

The contenders and what happened-
Staples-I bought the HP from them just over four years ago. After a similar search, I found they had the best price for what I wanted. Purchased online while recuperating from leg surgery, it arrived the day I returned to work.

This time around, I looked at their offerings after faxing off a document. They had a great sale, but I didn't have the funds that day. A second look and the sales weren't good. Then I found something on their website that said "In Store Only-Special Order."

Wouldn't that imply to you that you'd purchase it at a brick and mortar location, and if they didn't have it, they'd order it? That was my assumption, but the visit to the store netted "Oh, we only got 15 of those for this week's ad. Nope, we can't get any." Sorry, Staples, scratch you off the list.

Circuit City-Been in the local store more times in the past month then I have in the whole time I've had the option of shopping with them. Even though their exterior signs say 30-50% off everything (no exceptions listed), when you get to the laptops, the signs say 10%. As has been my experience scoping their ads or years, Circuit City's base prices are more expensive than everyone else's.

I'm a savvy shopper, always have been, and this is why I rarely set foot in their stores and never purchased an item from them until the current liquidation. They did not have bargains, nor did they have helpful sales staff that would justify spending more money for the service they provided. Circuit City, no deal.

WalMart
-Selection prominently featured Acer and Dell. Acer is not a brand I'd consider and the Dell was cheaper elsewhere. I know they price match, but the model numbers have to match exactly-one digit off doesn't count. They had a machine that was identical to one at Best Buy, but that dumb one digit difference meant that a request for the match would be met with 'but the sound cards are different."

CompUSA
-Yes, we still have storefronts in the Tampa area of CompUSA (pronounced Compoosa in this house). I popped in there on the way to scouts the other night. I encountered a helpful salesperson, but when I told him my budget, aversion to Centrino and net books, all he had to offer were a few Recon Gateways (in red, yuck).

Poor kid, I was telling him my budget and he kept showing me things that were $200 more AND trying to sell a service plan on a machine that I'd told him I didn't want!

Best Buy-I rarely pick up the newspaper anymore, but I got one Sunday night and saw the Best Buy ad with a $399 laptop. It met my criteria and I took the kids over there. (Gameboy happily trolling the game aisles and Chef Jr playing pretty good drums on Rock Band). The ad stated limited quantity, and they were sold out. So I looked around and saw a couple of prospects that were $449.00. More research was needed.

Online, Ed was looking at Dell's site and found a returned machine that suited me, but I waited and it was gone. New Egg had some Recons, but the machines they had in my price range didn't have enough of what I was looking for.

Tuesday night, I'm still looking, but pretty sure I'll be waiting for the Sunday ads to come out. I called a friend who works for Best Buy to see if the next big sale will be on a holiday weekend. No, but the deals are so-so.

Office Depot-Chef and I visit one while Gameboy is at scouts. Their cheapest machine is 499.99 after a mail in rebate, and I wanted to spend 500 with tax. I take the product info sheets to use for comparison and set off.

Yesterday morning, after going back and forth on things, I decide that I'll get the 449.99 Compaq at Best Buy. It's got more ram and a bigger hard drive than other brands in that price range, with a comparable processor.

Most of these machines have 802.11b/g wireless. I'm thinking this isn't a big deal, I'll just use my N card we bought a year ago. While waiting for a salesperson to assist us with either of the two machines for that price point, Ed notices that the machine I'd ultimately selected didn't have a PCMCIA slot. Crap, that means no card.

The salesperson assists us and confirms that the Compaq machines don't have the slot and recommends a Toshiba that's 529.99 that does. We take a look and the machine does have a few more features, an additional 1 gig of ram, and a web cam. My opinion of a web cam was that it'd be nice to have, but I wasn't seeking one out.

So, now we're looking at a machine that's over my personal budget. Ed suggests looking at a USB WiFi N card to see what the value of the PCMCIA slot really is. Across the brands, the card is 79.99, the ram would be about 20 bucks and the web cam about 30. The value of the machine is apparent. The problem? Then don't have it in stock, it can't be ordered from their website and the nearest store with it is 50 miles away.

Back home we go. I start a quasi spreadsheet of all the machines I'd considered in my price range, went back to New Egg and Dell and then realized that among the product cards I'd picked up at Office Depot was the same model Toshiba that Best Buy had. After rebate, it was 499.99. Close enough to my goal.

Their website showed the closest store that had it was in Tampa. I want it, but not that much to drive-I'll take the free shipping, thanks.

Tomorrow, the FedEx man will be bringing me this:
and I'll have to get used to not having D,R and F keys that stick or pop off, or a wonky keyboard that randomly goes halfway back up a line and inserts text and using a mouse that scrolls.

Meanwhile, I've probably bored some of you half to death and a few of you think I'm speaking Greek! I'm just happy that it'll be easier to network the new machine and pull all the stuff off of this one via the network.

Guess I should track down our XP disks so I don't have to deal with Vista, huh?

Update: FYI-Office Depot's Order Tracking SUCKS. I have an order number, but all it does is show me on their site that it'll be delivered today between 8:30-5:30. I just chatted with a CSR live and found out it is delivered third party, but they don't have any way of seeing whether it's on their truck or where in the delivery process it is. If it isn't here by MONDAY, I'm supposed to call and escalate.

This is after purchasing it before 5pm Wednesday, which made it eligible for next day shipping. Sorry Office Depot, you just killed any chance of me ever ordering another thing online. If it's not in store, I'll skip purchasing from you. I like to see where my purchase is, thanks. If a company selling me $20 in labels can do it, why can't you?

Update, Friday 6:09pm. No laptop. Another session in CSR chat and the rep took my phone number and promised someone would call ASAP. That was 45 minutes ago. We have different interpretations of ASAP. Ironically enough, I'd ordered a second batch of Label Daddy labels yesterday at 3pm. My order is done and again, I got an email with the FedEx tracking number. Why can a small internet company do this, but not a large retailer?

Yeah, I won't be buying any more products from Office Depot's website.

4 People talked back:

Tena said...

YAY for a new laptop, she is a beauty!! I want one so bad, but not sure.... more important things at the moment, or at least this is what I keep telling myself. Always put myself on the back burner

ligirl said...

Yay is right!!! A new laptop...VERY exciting!!! I still remember how excited I was when I got mine!!! (My best friends helped me pick it out...lucky me...tee hee) Srsly, that is awesome. You have needed one now for quite awhile, and as always, have made a careful, well-thought-out purchase. Enjoy!!! Wishing you many, many happy, productive years together!

Suzanne said...

Tena, I'm there with you-there are other things I rather would have done with the $$ (BlogHer, for one), but I look at the big picture and realize that having a better machine heading into college is the right move. (As far as BlogHer goes, I suspect I'll be eBaying my way there!)

Donna, Gee, I have NO IDEA who helped you with that purchase, lol! Hope I didn't go too geeky for you on this one.

AccidentalMommy said...

I am amazed they don't provide the tracking info. They HAVE IT, because it comes through FedEx, how hard would it be to give it to you???