Classic Computer Magazine Archive ST-Log ISSUE 27 / JANUARY 1989 / PAGE 6


The Mail-Order Dilemma

Last month, I received in the mail my first issue of ST-Log. I had been reading a friend's past issues for months and decided to start my own subscription. You may find this strange being that I do not own an Atari computer.

Here is my dilemma: I am in the market for (and am very anxious to get) an Atari ST computer. I have sent written requests for information about ST system packages to many of the advertisers in your magazine. From one of the companies, whom I won't mention by name, I have received a very confusing and distressing response. Right off the bat, the company tells me, "Atari no longer allows mail order to sell their products."

This almost sent me into a state of shock! I am in the U.S. Army and am stationed overseas. For myself and countless others, mail order is a vital method of obtaining certain merchandise that is not readily available as it is in the U.S. I would think that orders by mail would constitute quite a large portion of Atari's total sales.

How can Atari do this? Could you please enlighten me with any information that you may have as to why this new policy has been initiated, if in fact it is a policy at all?

—Andrew M. Brown
APO, New York

Yes, it's true that Atari now prohibits the sale of the ST computer systems by mail order. Yes, it is also true that mail order used to account for a goodly number of Atari sales, and unfortunately, you are not alone in your concerns. Believe it or not, though, Atari had no choice but to incorporate this drastic strategy, even though it will cost them some sales.

You see, a good service network is one of the most important things a computer company must establish if it is to gain the trust of the buying public. Whenever a computer is bought via mail order, the purchaser is gambling that the computer will not require service in the near future. Because mail-order companies do not provide service facilities, if a computer bought through them stops functioning, the purchaser must either return it for replacement (assuming, of course, that the machine is less than a couple of weeks old) or send it to Atari for repairs.

All official Atari dealers are now required to have service facilities. That way the purchaser knows that, should his machine need fixing, there is someone handy who can do the job quickly and cheaply (free if the machine is still under warranty). In order to give the ST the credibility it needs to be a success, Atari had no choice but to eliminate all mail order.

The no-mail-order rule applies only to the machines themselves though. Once you've purchased your computer, you will have no difficulty obtaining through mail order the software you need. So the situation isn't as bad as you might think. And once Atari gets its new dealer network installed, the machines themselves will be more readily available.

I would suggest that you give Atari a call (408-745-2000) and tell them you would like to purchase a computer. I'm sure they will find a way to satisfy your needs.

P.O. BOX 1413-MO