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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

PCs Bought Here: Dearer, but Safer

Computers, especially brand name computers, are much cheaper in the United States than they are here. Prices on some models can be up to 40% lower. So why not just buy your computers in the States and ship them here?

Basically because in buying from a dealer in the West you are storing up nightmare situations for yourself. Desktop computers bought outside Russia and shipped in do not have a valid manufacturer's guarantee. This means you could very easily find yourself with a large bill to repair your equipment, or worse, forced to fly it back to where it was purchased.

The problem is illustrated by the Hewlett-Packard service center. The center will absolutely refuse to touch any laser printer not bought through Hewlett-Packard Moscow. If you buy your printer in the United States, try as you might Hewlett-Packard will not fix it for you in Russia.

And with the exception of quite minor problems, only Hewlett-Packard is able to fix its printers here.

There is a small exception to this rule. Because of their "portable" nature, some manufacturers, including Compaq and IBM, give world-wide warranties with their notebook computers.

Since these can be brought into the country as hand baggage (and are thus not subject to import tariffs) it is probably cheaper to buy them abroad if you have the opportunity.

Yet it is not the cost of repairs during the guarantee period which is the main hidden saving in buying in Russia.

Computerland Europe operations manager Luk Brulez says the main savings are made if the same local company installs, implements and supports your systems throughout the life of the products.

"It is necessary to plan not just six months ahead but for the long term," he said. "We have come across situations in which companies have reached a certain size and have found they need to start virtually from scratch."

The ongoing costs of using computers and peripherals are much larger than most people realize.

According to a 1993 study by U.S.-based market researchers the Gartner Group, the price you pay for a PC amounts to just 15 percent of what that PC is going to cost you throughout its active life. This means that if you spend $1,000 on a new computer, before it finally bleeps its last you will have spent over $6,000 on things like technical support, replacement parts, administration and training.

During the lifetime of a laser printer the owner will usually spend three times its initial purchase price on consumables.

Thus it is far better to deal with whoever sold and installed your computers in the first place than spend time locating someone trustworthy and waiting to come to grips with your system.

Also bear in mind what a Moscow-based dealer is already doing for you in bringing all of this equipment here and getting it to you in one piece. In buying abroad you take on the responsibility for getting all of your equipment through Sheremetyevo. What you gain on the price difference you may findyou lose on customs tariffs if the officer you deal with has been having a really bad day.

It is easy to sound pompous on a subject like this, but I write from bitter personal experience.

A few years ago the difference in price between Moscow and the West was even more pronounced.

Under pressure to keep down start-up costs, I bought all of my office and computer equipment in the UK and gave responsibility for shipment to Russia to an English businessman working for a communications company here.

I never even had the chance to test most of the above arguments, since my computers never got here.

Robert Farish is the editor of Computer Business Russia.