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Doing the Dance

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

It's that time of year again, where I have to order replacement workstations and servers for the school. Nothing is more annoying than playing the quote game with manufacturers. You email/call some guy from some company and say "Hey I need 40 computers with these specs, send me a quote", and get an email later (hopefully that same day) with some outrageous price. Then you repeat the process with a different manufacturer.

Once you have quotes from a few different places, you start setting them against each other. You take the lowest price and tell others that companyX is beating them and see if they can do any better. They'll usually come back with a slightly better price. Then you repeat the entire process over and over again until you can't squeezing any more deals out of them and you finally go with whoever gave you the best price.

One of the companies I'm looking at for servers this year is HP, and I'm kind of astounded how difficult it's been to get an accurate quote from them. I went on their website and chatted with some support rep, gave him the specs I want and he said someone would be in contact with me about it. Later that day (at 10pm) I get an email from some rep with a quote attached. The quote was for $4k and the specs were no where near what I asked for. She quoted me for 1 dual-core processor instead of 2 quad-core processors and 1GB of memory instead of the 24GB of memory I asked for, among other incorrect specs. I replied reiterating the needed specs and asked her to update the quote. When she finally got back to me, the new quote is for $20k!! Obviously something was messed up since that was more than twice what everyone else (Dell and IBM) gave me, but I couldn't tell since the quote isn't itemized. Finally a few days later I got an accurate (and competitive) quote from that HP rep, I can't wait to see how hard it'll be to get the price down.

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