Shopping online saves you $$$…right?

Here’s an actual phone conversation from last week:

Me: Hey, how are you doing today? Great! I was just calling to follow up on the quote for that NAS storage unit you requested last week. Is that something you want to move forward with? If we order it today, we can have it out to you by Friday.

Client: Well, I’m not sure. I definitely need the storage space, but I was comparison shopping online and I saw that Amazon has that exact same unit for $300 less than what you quoted. Can you price match it for me?

Wow, what a great example on how shopping online can save you money, right? Maybe not!

In this particular instance, we called the manufacturer to find out why we were having to compete with this pricing (which was well below our cost). As it turns out, this was a case where the item listed on Amazon was really a Chinese “knock-off” and not even really produced by that manufacturer. The manufacturer promised to contact Amazon and get it removed asap.

This happens more often than you would think and our manufacturer partners tell us they are struggling to keep up with all these problems online.

In many cases, there are even legitimate products (made for the international market) that really are not intended for U.S. sales. The biggest problem with these “gray market” products is that we can’t get support or warranty for them, so if anything goes wrong, we (and our clients) are out of luck.

When we were talking to this particular manufacturer, he relayed a story about a recent case where another reseller had sold an unauthorized product (purchased online) and called in for warranty coverage. Even though the listing for this product assured that it was a fully authorized, brand new product that included full warranty, coverage was denied. Why? Because the serial number on the product did not qualify, so the reseller and their customer were stuck with a dead product (that was just days old, by the way). We never want to see this happen to one of our clients.

The bottom line is this: we promise to quote our clients only on legitimate products from authorized distribution sources and to give competitive pricing on “apples to apples” comparisons.

We always price check ourselves before sending quotes, because the last thing we want to do is lose credibility and trust with our clients. We want our clients to rest assured we are looking out for their best interests (that’s part of what they pay us for). Making a few extra bucks on a piece of hardware or software is simply not worth losing a trusted relationship.

It’s great to shop around to be sure you are getting a good price, but sometimes things aren’t exactly as they seem. Let the buyer beware!