I’ve been wanting to buy some new software for my computer, but I’m not sure of the best place to buy it. What are some of the things I should consider?

When you are buying new software, hardware or even a new computer, you have a few choices of buying locations to choose from. Of course, you can by from a local retailer or from the Internet, but an auction is also a choice to consider.

A local retailer is probably one of the safer of the buying locations, but there are still some issues that could arise. Unfortunately, some sales representatives are all about “the sale,” so they may somehow tell you incorrect information about the product you are looking at just for a sale. Or, even worse, they might just not know any detailed information about the product. Both of those situations can hurt only you in the end. If you are talking with a sales rep, ask them to demonstrate what they are explaining to you, so you know for sure what the item will do.

Another issue with a local retailer is the return policy. Make sure you know how long you have to return something in case it doesn’t quite work the way you wanted it to or ends up breaking. You also need to be aware of the warranty that comes along with your purchase. Make sure it is offered by the manufacturer of the product or by the place of purchase itself.

We all know that there are some concerns when ordering online. Online shopping is becoming more popular each day, but with that comes some extended problems. When you order something from the Internet, be sure the site you are ordering from is a secure site. When you’re entering your credit card number, look to the bottom of the screen to see if there is a small padlock there.

If there is, it means that your information will be kept secure and it’s okay to continue. If there isn’t one, you may want to reconsider your purchase.

You should also make sure the company you are ordering from is well known. If the site doesn’t contain contact information for the company, be wary of ordering from them. Be aware of piracy issues as well. These days, it is very easy for anyone to copy material to their own CDs and sell them. You need to make sure the copy you are buying is an authentic copy by looking for documentation of the product as soon as you receive it. You can also tell if a CD is burnt by the color tint; they are usually a greenish or goldish tint. A phrase to go by is “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

When buying online, you also want to check into return policies, warranties and always keep confirmation e-mails.

Now, another popular buying location is an auction. You can sometimes get computer products a little cheaper from an auction, but keep a look out for scams by the actual auctioneers. Look into their history and profile before buying anything from an unknown seller. Piracy, return policies and warranties are also issues with auctions.

Another type of auction is an online auction, such as EBay. It is recommended to pay by check in this type of situation if possible. This will help prevent your credit card number from being stolen. If you have to pay by credit card, use a PayPal account for extra security.

When you are buying new computer products, it is better to be safe than sorry. Items may be cheaper at different buying locations, but there are also a lot of different scenarios out there today to look out for. Do your homework before you make an actual purchase. You’ll thank yourself later.

~ Erin