Have you ever wondered why some people prefers to stick to well-known
brands or companies? It may be due to the quality of the products,
price, services, or even the people. This is especially true when we
are dealing with products that require “after-sales” support, such as
electronic equipment, software upgrades, etc. Some examples where I
hate to get into:

1) Purchase a customised PC from a new local
store with 2 years warranty. When I went back to the shop 2 months
later, the shop has closed down, and the owner has setup or joined
another company as partners. The worst case that happened to me is to
find the store operator working for another company nearby, and you
cannot claim warranty from him. Our suggestion is to keep the original
receipt with the OEM warranty card, so that you can claim from the
manufacturer. Lets just hope that the manufacturer doesn’t dissappear

2) Purchase a software at several hundred dollars,
including free lifetime updates and unlimited support. Does this makes
any sense? Probably no, unless the script is fast-moving and a niche
item that always have new buyers to fund the development. Otherwise,
your “lifetime” script runs the risk of not working in the next OS
update. We are quite sure that Microsoft, Mac and Linux are here to
stay, very possibly for your lifetime. But we are not sure about your
“free lifetime” update software (especially web script) which runs the
risk of losing its compatibility in the next major upgrade every, say 3
to 5 years?

3) Any other business dealings with guarantee period of say a number of
years in the contract, such as those in construction, defense products,
etc. Such risks are usually lower given that the players usually have a
larger budget to sustain. Nevertheless, we occasionally hear that some
of these companies that go bankrupt or out of business.

So what do I recommend?

1) As an experienced (professional)
buyer I would prefer a supplier or seller of a well-known brand and
track records. There is no such thing as the lowest price gets the
deal, because there is a price to pay for everything. If someone is offering a sweeter deal than everyone else, be sure to find out why he can do it while others can’t.

2) If have some experience
like me, you will be able to compare between 2 or 3 quotations and know
which seller is experienced in what they are selling, and those that
trying their luck or “just putting in a number”. This is particularly the case for large projects or systems procurement. Some small and new entrants in the market will try to come in with bold quotes to kill ” the bigger competition”. But what if they had underquoted and offers greater risk of not delivering what you are paying for? The buyer will risk not only the initial downpayment (if any), but also a lost in time and precious resources.

On the contrary, if budget is a concern and you find that it is worth the risk, please take it. At the very least, do some checks on the supplier and assure yourself that they are capable of doing the job.

As for software products with “free lifetime” upgrades, there is nothing much that you can do but keep your fingers crossed. For me, I prefer to get softwares with “free lifetime” upgrade… what the heck, the risk is still better than “confirmed annual payment” for updates. Just my opinion 🙂