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The Value of a Vendor Relationship
One reason why the PC industry is so price-competitive is that so many people shop on the basis of price. There's nothing inherently wrong with this--in fact, price is an important shopping factor. Many people will buy from a different vendor each time they go to buy a PC or components, and you can certainly save money this way. There are advantages, however, to establishing a long-term relationship with a vendor instead of jumping from one to another based solely on price issues.
Establishing a long-term relationship with a vendor usually means working closely with smaller companies, particularly reputable local dealers. These vendors will often jump at the chance to build a vendor relationship with you, especially if you run a small business or are in some other situation where you are likely to continue buying in the future. It is typically difficult to establish a close relationship with a large, impersonal mail-order company, though some of these have account representatives that will work personally with individuals over time (though usually only if they are ordering a lot of material on behalf of a company).
The benefit of a relationship is simple: long-time clients get better treatment than new ones. A valued repeat customer will often receive price discounts, upgrades to better components when building a system, faster turnaround on assembly, and better service. They will often receive better terms, possibly credit, and the vendor will be more willing to special-order components.
In a nutshell, the vendor knows you are a repeat customer and may even recommend his company to others so he will take care to keep you happy. Take it from someone who has dealt with both types of vendors: there's a very big difference between working with a vendor that truly cares about your satisfaction, and one that just puts that on their web site because it sounds good.
Another good reason for a long-term relationship with a vendor is that you gain the benefits inherent in using a single vendor instead of many.