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Chapter 7. Where to Buy a PC > Over the Web or by Phone

Over the Web or by Phone

Configuring and ordering a PC over the Web can sometimes be frustrating, but it can also be very enlightening. Most PC companies let you “build your own” PC. You select every component and the Web site prices the system accordingly. It's a great way to comparison shop and find out what your options are. You can also play “what if” games with various components or specifications that you are considering. Technically speaking, “mail-order” sales really aren't by mail. You usually contact the company over the phone or order from the Web site (have your credit card handy), and your computer is shipped by UPS or Federal Express. Companies like Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, IBM, and Gateway have proven that quality and value can coexist in an online or mail-order shopping environment. These companies will build your custom machine and send it to you within a week or two, if not overnight.

The best way to find out if a company is on the level is by word of mouth. Ask other people where they bought their computers and whether they were satisfied. Also look at ads in computer magazines. If a company advertises for several months (or years) in a row, chances are, it's a reasonably substantial business. At least it has stayed in business and paid its advertising bills.


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