Less Than The Sum Of Their Parts?

7 replies [Last post]
astro_rob's picture
Offline
Joined: Mar 19 2005
Posts: 320

This applies to cars and computers, and I'm sure that many of us denizens of the 'Fritter have noticed. Why is it that you can buy a whole used system (or, say, 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity) for a lot less than the parts to build one? Think about it. Right now, a Mac SE has a street value hovering near $5 (though I get a real kick out of those folks on eBay who optimistically try to sell a "slightly used RARE! Macintosh SE with 1mb RAM and 20mb HD" with starting bids near $50). However, try to just buy the parts; one sure-fire place to find them (sounds like Bun Tree-Barketing) will easily send anyone into sticker shock (same goes for trying to get a water pump for a 1989 Ford Tempo; it always turns out to be a significant percentage of the car's value).
Don't get me wrong, I love things old (after all... well... ). It has just always struck me as a little weird, though. Perhaps even piratical. One of my favorite gripes from a dealer was that it is his way of recouping the costs of having to tear-down the systems to get the parts. Maybe the time has come for a "you-pull-it" computer store. Dream my dream, imagine...

SALES CLERK (think "Beavis & Butthead") - Yeah, can I help you?
CUSTOMER (for some reason, I can't help but think of Janeane Garofalo)- Well, I'm looking for a hard drive mounting bracket for an IBM PS/2 Model 90? Do you have those?
SALES CLERK (snorts) - Well, yeah, we have a whole stack of those dinos back there against the back wall. (He goes to the counter and fetches a small tool box) You'll need these.
CUSTOMER - Look, I run the IT department at a pretty good sized company, I know my way around computers...
SALES CLERK - Gaw, but you're a chick.
CUSTOMER (scowling, picks up tool box) - Okay... just point me in the right direction.

At any rate, not likely. Let's face it, sales is not about altruism, it's about money, usually gobs and gobs of it. Besides, that thought of mine could wreck the American Dream, and I for one do not want to be responsible for undermining our societal foundations.

Still strikes me as silly...

__________________

Tinker Ergo Sum!
iBook G4 "Snowy", iBook Clamshell "Tang", Tandy Model 102 "Tandy", Tandy Model 200 "Deuce", Palm IIIxe "Xerxes", HP Jornada "Jordana"

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Whosawhatsis's picture
Offline
Joined: Aug 28 2005
Posts: 66
It's an interesting idea, but

It's an interesting idea, but I think a legitimate excuse not to do it is that they can't trust you not to screw up any of the other parts while getting yours out. Sure, there's "you break it, you bought it", but without close enough supervision to make it no more convenient for the seller, it's not going to work.

Besides, the cost of teardown excuse is pretty lame, considering that most PCs can be disassembled by a monkey if you give him the right set of screwdrivers (although systems with dangerous components like the capacitors used in CRTs make that less true, and cars are probably a bit more difficult...).

__________________

I was offered a penny for my thoughts, so I gave my two cents. I got ripped off.

Eudimorphodon's picture
Offline
Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 1203
Funding this "you pull it" computer store?

I'm guessing whoever's housing all these machines for people to wander amongst and pull random components off of is doing it out of the goodness of their own hearts.

Just ball-park here, figure that retail space might rent for anything from $5 to $30 per square foot, in most reasonable cities. A computer sitting there rotting on the floor for someone to wander along and pull a little component out of it is going to be costing the owner some fraction of that amount of money per month. (How high do you have them stacked on the shelves, eh?) If we say that, ball park, displaying that computer to you costs the owner a buck a month, and it sits there half a year before someone comes off the street and wants some component from it (who's removal may well render the rest of the machine unsellable, if it's a complete unit.), well... He's going to have to charge *something* significant for that part. Significant to the point that you might as well have just bought the whole unit from him. And when he's setting that significant price the owner of this fantastic computer warehouse is going to have to not only think about how much it cost him to house the bit of computer you're buying, but all those other bits that people arn't exactly knocking his door down to buy.

As for what it costs to get parts in the real world, well... it costs time for someone to tear down a computer. Maybe your time is free, but if you're trying to make a living off selling used computer parts the hour or two you might spend testing a used unit, determining what components have value, tearing down said unit, updating your inventory, advertising your wears, and dealing with customers need to be recompensated. Yes, a monkey can tear down a computer with a screwdriver. A retail monkey still needs to be paid an hourly wage for doing so.

Individual sellers who dump whole old computers for the prices they typically going for are just trying to get rid of something which to them is worthless. It's not fair to compare the going rate there with the prices charged by someone who goes out of their way to obtain and stock items to be sold on demand. Computer recyclers who move stuff for nothing are basically just giving interested parties a last chance before they melt it down into scrap. Again, it's not fair to compare these scrap prices to a parts dealer.

Anyway. I don't see what's piratical about charging what your market will bear. If you don't like what someone's charging for some obscure accellerator board or video card for your twenty-year-old computer you certainly don't need to buy it for them. You can just keep watching eBay or the recycle bins and hope you see a "free" scrap unit that has what you're looking for. But if you *absolutely* must have it, well, think of the money as a "thank you" for the person investing the effort to save the bloody worthless thing for you.

--Peace

astro_rob's picture
Offline
Joined: Mar 19 2005
Posts: 320
Tongue Planted Firmly In Cheek

Think you guys sorta missed this as what it really was; satire (Beavis & Butthead? Garofalo?). Just an observation I made this morning when I was out trying to find some MCA stuff for my PS/2 Model 50z... and repairing my Chevy.
There was a great computer shop here, though, that was literally like that. He used to go to auctions where they'd dump tons (literally) of computers. He kept them stacked. However, he wasn't the sort to just trust anyone to "pull-it-yerself"; he did trust me, however.
He sold the shop when the bubble popped back in '00. Pity...

Peace,
Rob

__________________

Tinker Ergo Sum!
iBook G4 "Snowy", iBook Clamshell "Tang", Tandy Model 102 "Tandy", Tandy Model 200 "Deuce", Palm IIIxe "Xerxes", HP Jornada "Jordana"

coius's picture
Offline
Joined: Aug 25 2004
Posts: 1975
actually...

I am a little bit of a profiteer. When I am looking at something pretty cheap (usually on sale) i will buy extra parts with left over money. When someone comes to me and says "Oh! I need (insert part here) and I need it now. I generally look on the web for the local stores (like compusa and bestbuy) and give them the option to go buy the part and bring it to me, or I can charge them the part price in the store +$10 for having it on-hand. Most of the time, I get to charge them the extra 10, as they are too lazy to go get it themselves (actually, if I have to go get something, i charge $10 just to go get it. [I don't own a car, and the busses here cost a fortune]) so, it helps to buy stuff in surplus. I don't consider it ripping people off, as I have to hold onto that stuff.
But! I don't put interest on the part for however long I hold the part. I could care less, I just hold it, and if after 5 months someone doesn't want the part (usually it becomes outdated) then I just take the part and either (a) sell it on ebay and put the money from the sale in my business account, or (b) I use it for my personal service, and if someone needs it, i just charge them a used price and give them a 40-day warranty (i am VERY Generous, especially when I am VERY careful with my stuff, so it will last, never had one come back yet!)

All in all, I think they guy would be right about storing parts and making others pay a premium for it, but I hardly think that someone should up the price because it has been sitting around. The would have lost money anyway if they got it and noone came to get it in the first place

__________________

See my PB540c 33Mhz serve a website! http://yui-ikari.coius.info/

jman's picture
Offline
Joined: Nov 30 2005
Posts: 147
depends

if you buy a dell for 500 or so you get what you pay for
i think custom buliding is the way to go you can buy all
the parts you want and not of what you don't

__________________

5500,pmG3,pbG3,pbG4,G5, Mac pro, and MacBook Pro forever
Enjoy the Intel age, but remember the time of the Power PC.
Eight Year Member of Applefrtter

coius's picture
Offline
Joined: Aug 25 2004
Posts: 1975
when generally getting old hardware

it's getting increasingly more harder to find parts for the computers that you have an emotional attachment to. This is why some computer places keep old parts. But it destroys the dream someone has with their piece of nastalgia when they try to rip them off for $130 for a part that is over 12 years old. It doesn't make sense, and it destroys credability for the parts distributer and the the client relationship. people who sell the parts, are just trying to take advantage of the situation.
I have seen sooo many computer recycling places go out of business around here as they hoop up the prices. One guy was charging $65 for an 8MB 72-pin simm about 3 years ago. That it just plain stupid.
When I asked him why, he told me that they were becomming more and more scarce. I offered to sell him some of mine, he said, "nah, i got a box full in the back of about 200 of them" i looked at him with the "WTF?!?!" expression, and said. A fool and his money are soon parted (i know what the phrase means, but in this case, they guy was going to go out of business knowing this, i just considered him being the 'fool')

After looking around, I found an old XT powersupply. Wanna know the price? 500 Smackers!!! About 2 months after that, i saw the guy on his last leg auctioning off the stuff, and he still kept about 3/4th's of the stuff when he closed for good. Talk about an idiot....

__________________

See my PB540c 33Mhz serve a website! http://yui-ikari.coius.info/

astro_rob's picture
Offline
Joined: Mar 19 2005
Posts: 320
Sometimes, It Makes You Wonder

Once upon a time, there was a great little shop that carried a lot of vintage Apple & other stuff (not my friend with the virtual warehouse). You named it, chances were pretty good he had it. The guy was a bit of a jerk at times, but overall, not too bad.
Well, he had stacks, and I mean literally, of all sorts of vintage computing (got parts for my Portable from him, in fact). His prices were always good. However, if he had something rare, he knew it, and would charge accordingly. For instance, he had Macintosh 512... a bunch of them. Nominal price of $125 a pop (in 2000).
The people who owned the building he was leasing decided to sell it, so he had to move... to much smaller digs. He simply didn't have the room. He started selling everything like mad at all sorts of crazy prices... except the 512's. He held out until it was too late. So, to keep anyone else from making money on them, he smashed the CRT's in each and every one before dumping them.
Makes you wonder.

__________________

Tinker Ergo Sum!
iBook G4 "Snowy", iBook Clamshell "Tang", Tandy Model 102 "Tandy", Tandy Model 200 "Deuce", Palm IIIxe "Xerxes", HP Jornada "Jordana"