Is there any online computer boutique where I can configure and order a PC, get it in a reasonable amount of time, not have serious issues with the hardware or software, has a reliable customer service department and a reliable warranty, AND will not rip me off?
I have spent nearly a week trying to find a place that has what I want in a PC, does not have ridiculously high prices, and does not have horror stories all over the internet involving customer service or warranties or shipping problems. I'm sure someone will suggest that I just build my own computer, but I honestly don't trust myself to do it, and I want to have a warranty on whatever I buy in case something goes wrong with it.
Places I have tried and reasons I am afraid to buy from them:
Dell/Alienware: Once owned a Dell and experienced awful tech support first hand. Do not tell you about important parts in their machines (i.e. mobo). Limited ability to customize a system.
AVAdirect: Prices seem great, reseller reviews looked good, but then there are scary stories of people getting damaged parts in their computers or getting ripped off by the company. These complaints seem to be relatively few, but the ones there are make me nervous.
Cyberpower/IBuyPower: Similar companies with a laundry list of complaints against them. From what I have read, it seems they are quite possibly the least trustworthy places to buy a computer.
Directron: Allegations of using second hand parts abound. Lots of stories about people getting damaged hardware or systems failing and not getting their money back.
Velocity Microsystems: Higher prices, still plenty of customer service and tech support complaints, stories of systems being corrupted and crashing.
Falcon Northwest/Maingear: Seem to have very few complaints or bad reviews, but the prices seem incredibly high.
It seems like I have to choose between spending more money than I want to and or saving some money and risking a faulty PC and not getting help or my money back. If these are my options, I guess I will buy from a more expensive company, buy I am really hoping someone knows of a place that is reasonably priced and safe to buy a PC from.
Microcenter has their own line of Power Spec systems and extended warrantys are available. Having a company build a custom computer just for you with you calling the shots should be expensive. I know Fry's Electronics used to do judt that if you wished. Anything you want, their techs would build it for a price. Consider bulding your own.
Just a quick word of warning about Falcon Northwest's support: SLOW.
They use a callback model for support. Essentially, when you have a support issue you leave a voice mail with their tech support, and they call you back in the order that the voice mails were left. The problem is that they are so short staffed in the support department, that if you get a call back in less than 48 hours you should consider yourself lucky. In my case it meant that my computer was unusable for more than 2 days before I could speak with a human at Falcon Tech support.
IMO this model is ridiculous. It's the slowest support I have ever had from any vendor. On the surface, the way that the company sells this approach seems reasonable, but in practice it is aggravating to say the least. In my case I purchased a system for more than $10K from this boutique manufacturer supposedly with a reputation for good customer service, and expect a faster response time than 48+ hours. This support model could be more effective if they had a way to inform you of your place in the queue, or some automated notification that updates you as to the progress, but as it stands the model leaves you waiting by the phone in the hopes that today's 9 hour window of their operation will be the day they bless you with a call.
Please don't misunderstand me. Their machines are great, but their support requires customers with excessive patience :-)