Thursday, November 27, 2008

OT: Where have all the computer stores gone?

I need to get a new battery for an old laptop. Half an hour of surfing the web identified a dozen or so sources which boiled down to two pricing models. I could buy a battery locally from an Australian company for c.$65 (+$12 shipping) or source it from China for $50 (+$25 shipping). I accept that all of the batteries are probably made in the same factory in China and I don't have a problem with that and neither am I disturbed by paying c.$75 for the battery.

What does peeve me is that I don't have the option to to walk into a computer store anywhere and pay cash for the battery. I need to send money to Paypal or do a Direct Deposit into the bank account of the webtailer and send them the details and they will then FedEx me the battery.

I appreciate that bricks and mortar is on the way out and that if I bought the product through a store outlet I'd probably pay an extra $10 for the privilege, but there is something frustrating in losing the option of walking into a computer store and browsing the shelves for a while and then maybe buying a couple of extra network cables while I'm there. Don't any of these webtailers have a factory door?

Maybe the store-sold batteries are out there somewhere but the store owners just don't advertise on the web.

Maybe Toshiba Satellite laptops are a niche market. Damn... I have two of them!

Maybe I'm just getting old...

grumble grumble
.

3 comments:

Thomas Schulte said...

In Germany we call it the "death of the aunt emma shops".
The reason for none of these shops being available any longer is that it does not pay the rent having one, because all the computers and accesoires for, are sold by online shops or big companies like "media markt" and even by discounters on a regular base.
So if you want to have a shop you need to pay the rent and the people which are necessary to ask the customer what he wants to buy. Perhaps.
And after they spent an hour to ask questions and tell the potential customer what he perhaps could use he walks away with his new knowledge and buys the stuff you mentioned in ...

an online store.

Richard Schwartz said...

n the US the "computer superstore" concept is now completely dead. It is still possible to find a small neighborhood computer shop, though there are definitely fewer than there used to be. OTOH, there is a chain of stores that sell batteries, and only batteries: http://www.batteriesplus.com. One of their franchises is here where I live in Nashua.ca

Graham Dodge said...

Thomas,
I agree with the problem of the technology freeloader who soaks up the store's time then buys it cheaper on the web. I'm looking at distinct items where I already know the part number before I walk into the store.

Richard,
If those guys ever open a store in Australia I'll be there.