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Like any hobby, being a nerd can be an expensive business. All those lovely gadgets and computer components don't come cheap and having an all singing, all dancing computer does make my wallet wince.
Hurrah for eBuyer.com then where I can buy PC stuff at wallet friendly prices.
While eBuyer will work in Opera, Netscape and evil Internet Explorer, it's only in the latter two that you will encounter the "expanding menus" type navigation. In Opera, rather than the expanding menus, you will surf to a new page to get the same options. While this isn't a huge negative aspect of the site, it does increase surfing time slightly.
You can surf around the site without actually signing up for an account, but if you don't, you will be missing out on some of the nifty features. The details of signing up for an account may be sketchy as it's been a while since I did so. If I recall correctly, there are two methods of registering. The first is as a home user (eBuyer@home). You are allowed one account per household, and it's a single user account. The other option is (eBuyer@work) where you can have multiple users per account to make your buying easier. However, as a home user, I can only comment on the first option. You'll need to supply your full name, email address and telephone number. The phone number must be a landline (you can supply a mobile number as an optional piece of information). Along with this, you will need to give a username and password, a secret question and answer and your address details. Don't worry about using your primary/personal email address for eBuyer as I've not noticed any spam appearing in my account since I registered with eBuyer (well over a year ago now) and the only thing I get from eBuyer is a weekly email which I have asked to receive. You can easily change any of these details at a later date from within your account.
In order to sign into your account, you must supply three pieces of information: your username, your email address and your password. That's a bit different to most sites where you are only required to enter two pieces of information. This is done purely for security reasons, and you can get the site to remember your details which means each time you visit, you only have to enter your password.
Upon getting into the site properly, you are presented with a clear design in grey, orange and mainly white which is easy on the eye. eBuyer has a wide variety of stuff on offer, possibly the biggest of any company I've used so far. Browsing the site is easy ? you select the criteria you wish to use and you can search by category (e.g. memory, CPU, graphics cards etc.) or you can browse by manufacturer (Belkin, Intel, AMD, Creative etc.). You're presented with a random selection of items using the relevant selection criteria with an option to see all in the list. If the items you are looking for is not on the first page, then you can browse the "All Items" list which can be sorted by price, stock levels etc. It sounds more complicated than it actually is, and you'll pick it up in now time at all.
If you choose to use eBuyer's search facility, you'll find that it's quick and returns accurate or relevant results. The advanced search facility is also excellent offering further ways to refine your search criteria.
Going back to eBuyer's range of stock, you will find that they do almost every component you would possibly need to build a PC from scratch as well as complete PC systems and laptops and notebooks. Most items have a description to go along with them, although you will need an element of nerdness about you to be able to understand them as they haven't been dumbed down for the ordinary bloke off the street so having someone with some expertise to give you a hand might be necessary. You'll probably not notice, but the stock level of the site is done in real time, so you are always 100% sure of what's in stock and what's not.
The bit I like most about eBuyer would be the prices. While a lot of the better known e-tailers are pretty much the same in terms of price, I find that eBuyer usually has the edge on most of them (this doesn't include the special offers of some sites, like Scan's "Today Only" page, for example). You might not save a lot on an individual item, but the savings do mount up over several items or purchases. An example is that on one of my last orders, I saved £20 on a monitor and £5 on a graphics card compared to other sites at that time, which isn't a bad saving at all for two items.
The ordering process is simple, and if you've used any other e-commerce sites before, you'll know how things work with the shopping cart system. The cost of postage is pretty much the same as anyone else in this section of the market as they all tend to use the same two or three courier firms. eBuyer currently accepts Visa/Mastercard/Solo and Switch cards. If you are a trade customer, eBuyer will accept cheques for orders over the value of £5000 (ex. VAT), but not for private customers. As a security precaution, your first order can only be delivered to the address you register with eBuyer, but later orders can be delivered to an alternative address if you require such a thing.
There are one or two interesting things to note about eBuyer which sets them aside from other, similar companies. The first is your "catalog". This works in a similar way to Amazon's "Wish List" where you can keep a note of various items you are interested in, and watch their prices over time. A simple indicator on this page tells you if an item has increased or decreased in price since you added it. This is very handy if you know you are going to be buying a certain type of item at some point in the future and need a handy reference for price or stock levels.
Another is the eNotes system which replaces all other forms of contact such as email or telephone. I can see where there are advantages to such a system, but it can be rather limiting as well. On the other hand, any time I've had to use the eNotes system (for queries only), I've always had a quick, friendly response. Help is on hand on the site itself with an excellent FAQ (frequently asked questions) and several pages of excellent information regarding practically every aspect of the site and how to use it.
I've been using eBuyer for well over a year now and I have to say that I've never had any difficulties in dealing with them. Ordering was a breeze, all information was clear and understandable and the order tracking service within eBuyer's own system and with the courier company was effective and accurate. Orders were processed quickly, arrived on time and 100% complete. I've never had to use their returns policy and contact with them has been quick and helpful. This, alongside their prices and range of items makes eBuyer my first choice when considering buying PC components.