Monday, January 14, 2008

Location, Location, Location

When it comes to buying online, even though the Internet brings companies far away right into your home, the location of the merchant is still important. This is especially true when it comes to the purchase of computer and technology items.

We strongly recommend buying from a merchant in the USA when you can. Not just because it helps our nation's economy, but because it also helps you- the consumer. Some things to keep in mind about location when buying online:

1. Transit time- Merchants overseas may sometimes have an item a couple of dollars cheaper. But it may take a lot longer to receive the item as International Post tends to take a lot longer than regular domestic shipments. Check to see what method of shipping the merchant uses and go to the shipping company's web site to check time in transit. Also find out if there will be a tracking number or if you just have to check your mailbox each day.

2. Customer service/language- Some US companies can give poor customer service too, I know that from experience, so always check any seller's online feedback before buying. Keep in mind that in some countries where English is not the primary language, you may have difficulty getting the customer service you need. This could result in some headaches for you. Also take note when buying from a US company that outsources their customer support to overseas contractors who don't speak English well.

3. Return policies- often times products from outside the USA do not have the typical 14 or 30 day return policy many US companies have. If they do, check the fine print to make sure you aren't responsible for the shipping costs both ways. While many US merchants, including Rokland, don't refund shipping costs on returns unless due to merchant error, merchants overseas with the same policy may mean that you pay a high price if you need to return an item. It also means if you do have to return due to a defect, because of long transit times there and back, it could be several weeks before you have a working product. Also, on more expensive purchases, remember that when buying in the USA you can take actions against the merchant if there is an error on their part they do not resolve (consumer affairs, or a BBB report for example). With overseas merchants, unless they also have locations here in the USA, generally these outlets are not available.

3. Piracy and fraud- while many overseas vendors are good companies, products that come from some areas of the world may not be legitimate, or the sale may be fraudulent. This can be the case with some companies in the US too, so always do a background check on any company before buying, but again as noted in point #3, there are outlets available if you encounter an issue with a purchase made in the USA that are not available to you when you buy from other countries.

Sometimes buying outside of the USA might be the best way to go. More often than not though, a US company is more attractive for consumers living in the USA.

Friday, January 11, 2008

What's on tap for 2008

2007 marked another exciting year here at Rokland, as we continue to see our company grow. We look forward to many new things in 2008, including the addition of new technologies to our primary web site, When it comes to e-commerce, flashy new technologies aren't always the best, because sometimes they can get in the way of a customer's ultimate goal- ordering what they need quickly and easily. So we like to keep things simple, however we do have some new features we will be unveiling which will not only make purchases quicker and easier, but will make finding what you need easier too.

One of the main concerns customers have noted over the year is that as UPS continues to raise their rates and hike up their fuel surcharges, in some destination zip codes it can now cost upward of $10.00 to ship a small Ground package. We want to reiterate that we do not inflate UPS rates, we charge the exact amount plus a 50 cent handling fee on all web orders. The 50 cents is primarily because UPS fuel surcharge increases aren't reflected in the rate calculator right away, so generally you end up paying the actual shipping cost. What we will be doing toward the end of the first quarter this year is offering US Postal Service options on our web site, in addition to existing UPS options. Many smaller items can be sent through the US Postal Service much cheaper, and will arrive just as fast. We will post more details on that soon, but please keep in mind that if you currently wish to have an order go via the US Postal Service, even though our web site is currently set to only offer UPS options, you can email us for a rate quote for US Postal options on any item, and if you wish to select one of those options, we can manually adjust the shipping charge and method in the system.

In regards to product offerings, in 2007 we saw some major new additions to our product line, including a series of wireless adapters for Apple Macintosh computers- both general connectivity and long range setups. In November we officially launched our RokAir wireless adapter, which, as I like to say, is the "King of Compatibility". In addition to working with Mac OS 10.3 and 10.4, it also works on all Windows operating systems from Windows 98SE up through Vista, as well as Linux (kernel 2.6.6 and later). Its built-in heatsink and 100mw output power make it, in my opinion, superior to any of the usual suspect pen-style USB adapters you can buy in stores. We'd like to thank for writing about this adapter, you helped many of your readers find out about this low-cost Airport alternative, and we have had many happy emails from customers who purchased.

In 2008 we look forward to more additions to our product line, including a larger selection of 802.11n devices, as well as more options for Macintosh users including a wireless adapter that is Kismac compatible, and some that are Leopard compatible as well.

We'd like to thank all of our customers, suppliers, and contractors for making 2007 a great year, and we hope we helped make it a great year for you too. We look forward to continued relationships for the year to come, and if you have any questions, concerns, or would like more information on any of our current or planned offerings always remember to check here on our blog or email us.