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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Understanding PC Sources, Vendors and Prices | Vendor Evaluation Factors | Support ]

Vendor Support vs. Manufacturer Support

In theory, a vendor is supposed to provide support for all the products it sells, for the lifetime of the product. If you have a problem with a product even beyond the short guarantee period, you are supposed to contact the vendor, who is supposed to provide assistance. They are supposed to help you fix problems, and if they determine that something has failed, handle returns to the manufacturer for warranty service.

This is in fact roughly how the retail world worked many decades ago, but no longer. Most larger vendors, even better ones, will grant a short period of weeks during which they handle problems with equipment, and after that, you are on your own to deal with the manufacturer. The reason for this change is simple: it saves money. Arguably, this is more efficient than dealing with a middleman, but equally arguably, that's a service your vendor is supposed to be providing. Dealing with a manufacturer directly can be a chore sometimes.

Fortunately, not all vendors are alike in this regard. In particular, this is an area where smaller vendors really shine: they provide personalized service and can often help you diagnose and troubleshoot problems without turning to a manufacturer. For some items this isn't important, but for others it is really essential. For example, if you are building a PC for the first time or upgrading a machine and aren't sure what you are doing, a helpful small vendor is more than worth the possible extra few dollars they charge for hardware, for the support they will provide alone. If you buy all the components from some of the huge companies out there, and there's a problem making them all work together, as far as they are concerned that's your problem.

Note: Even if a vendor doesn't provide any of their own support, do not let them push you off onto a manufacturer if an item you buy is defective. No consumer should be forced to accept an item that arrives "DOA" or dies within a matter of days. See here for more.

Next: Technical Support Quality

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