Nancy Barber (nlbarber) wrote,
Nancy Barber

The aaaargh! of government computer purchasing

My work laptop has been showing signs of impending failure, but I've been procrastinating about requesting a new one. Last week in Denver it gave me yet another scare, so I talked to my supervisor and got permission to go ahead. However, Government Purchasing Is Not A Simple Process in any case, and here is complicated by the fact that I want a Mac (replacing the current one), not the "corporate solution" IBM with Windows XP. Then there's also the $2500 limit for purchases--go over that, and you have to get 3 bids, etc., etc.

But anyway, yesterday afternoon I go on the Apple Government Store Web site, spec out my laptop (same 15" Titanium PowerBook G4 as I have, but the chip is 3 times faster, I doubled the RAM, and the hard drive is more than twice as large) and it cost less than the one I bought back in December 2001. Cool! I added in an extra power supply, as they always seem to break a wire after a year or so, and the total was $2455. Went looking for my supervisor and the computer section head for them to sign off on it, but both were gone for the day.

This morning I take the completed paperwork, get the signatures after adding a justification statement about why I need the Mac (it was a little fancier than "but I like Macs!"), go to the Apple Store page and retrieve my saved shopping cart. And up comes the message: "the flagged items are no longer valid". Apple has raised the price on both items overnight, and my intended purchase now comes to $2510.

Called Apple, got a sales rep who doesn't really grasp the problem but who agreed to ask "Finance" if they will honor yesterday's price. However, they will have to charge the new price and then give me a refund--here's where the rep didn't get it--so I'm not going to get the extra power supply. That would be the classic split purchase, sure to catch the attention of an auditor looking for violations of the $2500 limit.

So I wait. It will take at least 24 hours to get an answer from Finance at Apple, so I'll hold off on my order until I hear back. Meanwhile, I get a message that OpenAFS is not yet compatible with Tiger, so the old laptop will need to hang on for my Web work at least until that gets fixed--the new laptop will ship with Tiger, of course.
Tags: computer

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