Facebook Safety 101

Ok, we *all use Facebook.  Something that makes Facebook unique (and MySpace started doing this toward the end too) is apps.  Facebook lets you install applications – e.g. Farmville (my personal fav).  Well, these apps are developed to utilize everything about your Facebook profile.  Facebook provides an API (Application Programming Interface).  This allows developers to write apps that can do anything to your Facebook profile – e.g. post to your feed, send messages to your friends, etc.

So what’s my point?  Don’t install any and every app you come across.  Some apps aren’t games or “surveys” – some are “give so and so a flower” or “send so and so a hug”.  The majority of these are traps.  They seem harmless – “oh, sure, I’ll send my friend a hug!”  Why would you need to install an app that “requires full access to your Facebook profile”?  It’s just not worth it.

Facebook App
Facebook App

So safety tip #1 – do not install apps on Facebook unless you KNOW who the software vendor is.  Games such as Farmville come from legitimate software developers.  These little “hug” or “flower” apps can be developed by pretty much anyone.  Is it worth it to send a hug, just to have your profile hacked?

The next way your Facebook profile can get hacked is via JavaScript.  I’m going to do my best to not get too geeky here, but we have to talk nerdy just a little.  JavaScript is plain text, embedded within Web pages.  It provides for more elegant Web design and can do far more than flat HTML can do.  Whether it’s fancy image transitions or actual data retrieval, JavaScript is a very powerful scripting language.  It can also control what your browser does – e.g. move your cursor, control windows (e.g. pop-ups), etc.  Well, the power behind Facebook is JavaScript.

The latest trend has been to send people links via private message/email.  You click on the link thinking it’s going to be a funny video, but it’s actually a malicious JavaScript on the offending site/host.  It then executes JavaScript that can penetrate your Facebook page and post whatever it wants to your feed.

That brings us to safety tip #2 – don’t click on links in messages or posts that you do not trust 100%.  It’s the oldest trick in the book.  “Hey, look at this” and then wham, you’ve been had.

How does one prevent this?  Well, JavaScript can only be stopped one way – stop it.  That’s why The Computer Peeps recommend Firefox as your Internet browser.  Firefox alone is not only one of the safest, fastest Internet browsers, it’s also ahead of its time.  All of the security measures Microsoft just got to today, Firefox had years ago.

Another benefit of using Firefox is add-ons.  These are plug-ins developed to enhance Firefox.  Just like Facebook, there are good apps and bad apps.  Because Firefox is open source and because everyone – good or bad – has access to the code, it makes for an extremely safe and stable product.  Seems odd doesn’t it?  It’s the beauty of community.  I don’t use a bunch of add-ons for Firefox simply because it just doesn’t need them.  There are a few that are worth their weight in gold though:

  • NoScript
  • AdBlock Plus
No Script and AdBlock
No Script and AdBlock

I have been using these for years and they are both lifesavers.  NoScript is the one we’re going to discuss in this post.  AdBlock is fantastic and helps block all ads embedded within a page – I’m sure ads are most-annoying to all of you reading this.  NoScript though is special.  It blocks all JavaScript from being executed.  Thus, if you visit a site that attempts to execute malicious JavaScript, it simply cannot execute it, period.

That can be a good and bad thing though.  You want certain sites to be able to execute JavaScript, such as Facebook.  What you DON’T want is for sites people link to on Facebook to be able to execute JavaScript.  After installing NoScript, the first time you visit a site such as Facebook, JavaScript will be disabled.  All you do is click the little icon and allow JavaScript on the site you trust.  Within a day or so, you will have visited all of your regularly visited sites – e.g. Facebook, Amazon, CNN, The Onion, etc.  Just “allow” each of those sites and you never have to do it again!

To me, it’s beyond worth it to “allow” a site rather than let it execute JavaScript that posts a naked girl dancing on my Facebook profile.  You tell me if it’s worth it.  😉

All of these products are free and easy to use.  To download Firefox, visit:



Once you have Firefox installed, click Tools > Add-ons

Tools > Add-ons
Tools > Add-ons

Search for NoScript and install it.  Once that’s installed, search for AdBlock Plus and install it.  You’d be amazed what ESET Nod32 as your anti-virus and the above Firefox setup can do in the name of securing your computer.  Add to that, you don’t have to see annoying ads when you visit a site (and even ads can be a security issue if they lead you to another site).

If you need any assistance with the above, just call The Computer Peeps!

Are all of your eggs in one basket?

Eggs in one basketYou know the old saying.  Well, think of your backups as eggs and where you store them as a basket.  Hopefully you’re not storing them all in one basket.  I’ve seen many take what appears to be a good step – purchasing an external hard drive for backups – only to be disappointed when the time comes to retrieve that backup.

Those external hard drives are a good start, but don’t think you’re in the clear.  They’re just as inclined to fail as the hard drive inside your computer.  They are literally the same drive you have in your computer, but in a pretty, little case.  Hard drives contain moving parts and even if you nudge one and knock it over, you could lose all of the data stored on it.

Let’s expand on that word – data.  Data isn’t just a bunch of 1s and 0s – not to you it isn’t. Data to you is consignors, customers, inventory, sales … your livelihood. How much is that worth to you?  Is making a daily backup too much of a chore?  Is being able to have consignors continue to bring in inventory so you can stay in business too much of a chore?  When you start looking at it that way, backups become priceless.

I’ve been working in the IT field for over 10 years.  I’ve met, worked with and been educated by some of the smartest people on this planet.  Each and every one of them constantly reiterated the same thing:

  • Perform daily backups to unique devices and then test those backups on a regular basis.

This is probably one of the easiest things you can do and in the end, it’s going to save you the most time and money.  I’m not telling you to throw away that 500 GB external hard drive you just purchased.  You can never have too many backups.  Utilize that drive for additional files such as pictures, documents, spreadsheets, etc.  Periodically backup those backups to disc – e.g. a CD or DVD.

Your consignment software database backups are a completely different animal.  For your consignment software database backups, one of the most-effective, yet least-expensive ways to attain redundancy is with USB Flash Drives.  They look like this …

USB Flash Drive

First things first – how many days a week are you open for business?  If you’re open 6 days a week, purchase at least 6 of these.  You can find them on Websites such as http://newegg.com/ for about $9 a piece.  Take a label gun or a sharpie and write a day of the week on each of them, according to which days you are open for business.  Starting to see where we’re going with this?

On Monday, take “Monday’s Flash Drive” and plug it into a USB port on your computer.  If your computer’s USB ports aren’t in the easiest-to-get-to spot, buy one of these.  Each day you’re open, use that day’s drive for your backups.  Keep these in a fireproof safe.  What you’re creating is a strong contingency plan, should technology fail on you.

Having multiple backups – ones you’re testing on a weekly basis – gives you a cushion.  Let’s say somehow, your database becomes damaged – either corruption or possibly just a set of mistakes triggered by human error.  Well, if you had just one backup, you’d be up the proverbial creek.  If you have 6 backups to choose from, you’ve now got a better case scenario.  You can always “go back in time” to a backup from a few days ago.  Hey, you might lose some information, but not ALL of it.

It’s nearly impossible to recover from a complete data loss and it can drive a business out of, well, business.

Consignment Software Vendor Overview

This is a quick rundown of each of the consignment software vendors in the industry.  The aim of this article is to provide a concise list of the software programs available and what each vendor charges for software and support.

We strive to ensure each detail is accurate and current.  If you are a software vendor and find any of the information regarding your product or service to be inaccurate, please let us know.  We’ll correct it immediately!

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Website: http://www.consignpro.com/

Consignment Software: ConsignPro ($1,295)

About: Founded in 1996.  Owned and operated by Brian Wilson.

Technical Notes: The software runs on Windows (32-bit or 64-bit) and has a Microsoft Access database type.

Features: “Home page” (Main Menu) feature with all tasks on one screen.  Consignment and Buy Outright capabilities.  Web and email features (including consignor logins).  Typically referred to as the “easiest to use consignment software” on the market.

Support: Support is free for one year with any new license purchase.  After that, support is $150 per year for 1 or 2 computer setups and only slightly more for 3+ computer setups.  Free updates with Support Plan.

Hardware Prices:
*Prices found @ http://www.consignpro.com/

– Scanner – $189.00
– Star TSP643 Receipt Printer – $339.00
– Cash Drawer – $189.00
– Zebra LP2824 – $395.00
– MagTek Card Swipe – $95.00


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Website: http://www.resaleworld.com/

Consignment Software: Liberty4 Consignment ($995)

About: Resaleworld has been manufacturing consignment software for nearly 20 years.

Technical Notes: The software runs on Windows and has a Microsoft SQL Server database type.

Features: Inventory module and separate Point of Sale module.  Web and email features (including consignor logins and online appointment scheduling).  Consignment and Buy Outright capabilities.  Very comfortable Point of Sale.

Support: 30 days of free support, 1 year of support is $179.40 for a single-user license.  Free updates with support plan.

Hardware Prices:
*Prices found @ http://www.resaleworld.com/

– Metrologic MS9520 Voyager Handheld Scanner – $379.00
– Unitech Bar Code Reader – $349.00
– MMF Cash Drawer – $189.00
– Citizen CD-S500 Dot Matrix Receipt Printer – $379.00
– Citizen CT-S310 Thermal Printer – $399.00
– Epson TM-U220 POS Printer – $379.00
– Ithaca Thermal Receipt Printer – $399.00
– TSC TDP-245 Thermal Printer – $429.00
– Zebra 2844 Thermal Printer – $449.00
– Dell OptiPlex Computer – $1,749.00 (Compare to our IDENTICALLY SPEC’d BETTER SPEC’d Dell OptiPlex starting @ $935)


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Computer Consultants Exchange, Inc.

Website: http://www.consignmentshopsoftware.com/

Consignment Software: Consignment Ease formerly Best Consignment Software ($395), Consignment Success ($995)  *No longer in development.

About: Started by Bill Hawkins in the late 90s.  Sold to Tammy Ruddick and her husband, Kelly Ruddick, in 2009.  Sold again in 2012 and currently owned and operated by Tri-Tech.

Technical Notes: The software runs on Windows (32-bit or 64-bit) and has a dBase database type.

Features: Consignment and Buy Outright capabilities.  Web and email features (including consignor logins).  Very streamlined, easy to use interface.

Support: 60 days of free support, 1 year of support is $9.95 per month per store.  Free updates with support plan.

Additional Info: Make sure you don’t confuse Best Consignment Software and Best Consignment Shop Software.  For information on Best Consignment Shop Software, please read the following review.

Hardware Prices:
*Prices found @ http://www.consignmentshopsoftware.com/

– Metrologic barcode scanner – $180.00
– Star Receipt Printer – $285.00
– Zebra Tag printer – $375.00
– MMF’s Cash Drawer – $199.00
– Hardware package – $995.00


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Website: http://www.rjfsoft.com/

Consignment Software: Consignment Till ($599)

Background: Owned and operated by Ron Funnell.

Technical Notes: The software runs on Windows (32-bit or 64-bit) and is only one of two consignment programs to utilize MS SQL Server.

Features: Design custom price tags/labels.  Consignment and Buy Outright capabilities.  Install Consignment Till on up to unlimited computers, in the same location, at no extra charge.  Very user-friendly interface.

Support: Free support!!!  Includes one free year of remote backup + web access ($100 value)

Hardware Prices:
*Prices found @ http://www.rjsoft.com/

– POSX Thermal Receipt Printer – $289.00
– POSX Bar Code Scanner (no stand) – $150.00
– POSX Bar Code Scanner (with stand) – $175.00
– Cash Drawer – $120.00
– Zebra LP2824 – $270.00
– Zebra LP2844 – $380.00


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Website: http://www.consignmentsoftware.biz/

Consignment Software: The Consignment Shop Software ($895)

Background: Manufacturing consignment software since 1999.

Technical Notes: The software runs on Windows and has a Microsoft Access database type.

Features: Very simple, easy to follow interface.  Consignment and Buy Outright capabilities.

Support: 30 days of free support, 1 year of support is $150 for a single workstation configuration.  Free updates with support plan.

Hardware Prices:
*Prices found @ http://www.consignmentsoftware.biz/

– HHP 3800G Linear Imager Scanner – $179.00
– HHP 3800G Scanner Hands Free Stand – $25.00
– MS 210 CCD USB Scanner – $135.00
– Thermal Receipt Printer with USB Cable – $299.00
– Cash Drawer- 16″ – $99.00
– Cash Drawer- 19″ – $119.00
– Cash Drawer Cable – $9.00
– Zebra LP2824 – $299.00
– Zebra LP2844 – $399.00


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Website: http://traxia.com/

Consignment Software: SimpleConsign ($99/mo with no online consignor access, up to $149/mo with online consignor access)

Background: Relatively new on the consignment software vendor scene.  Company seems focused on developing good software and providing customer service.

Technical Notes: The software is web-based, which means an Internet connection is required in order to use it.

Features: See: Web-based.

Support: 15 day Free Trial, Free Customer Support.


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Website: http://www.resalebay.com/

Consignment Software: Consignor Connection ($595), Resale Connection ($995)

Background: Specialize in Buy Outright software.  Family owned and operated.

Technical Notes: The software runs on Windows and has a Clarion database type.

Features: Tailored to Buy Outright stores.

Support: 30 days of free support, 1 year of support is $150 for a single-user license.  Free updates with support plan.

Hardware Prices:
*Prices found @ http://www.resalebay.com/

– Star TSP100 Future Print – $250.00
– Media Cash Drawer – $125.00
– Honeywell 3800 Scanner – $195.00
– Zebra LP2824 – $275.00
– Credit Card Reader – $75.00
– EpsonTM88 – $375.00
– Star TSP700 – $350.00
– Zebra LP2844 – $350.00
– Dell OptiPlex Computer – $750.00


Again, we will constantly check for changes to the specs/prices above.  If you have any questions about the information above, please call The Computer Peeps @ (888) 374-5422.

How do you get pics in a TGTBT.com post?

You might have seen our posts on Kate’s TGTBT.com Sharing forum and wondered, “how’d you get pics in your message?”  Words are great, but pictures can be worth a thousand words.

I can sit here all day and say, “right-click My Computer.”  If I show you what I mean though…

Jing How To from The Computer Peeps

It’s much easier to understand!

Since we’re all separated by miles of copper wire on this here Internet, being able to share information in an easy-to-digest manner is paramount to successful communication.

So, how do I get pics in my forum posts?  I use a free program called Jing.  Jing provides a very simple way to quickly take a picture, so to speak, of what you’re seeing on your computer.  Here’s how it works…

Let’s say you’re typing something in a text file and the font is HUGE, but you don’t know why.  You participate in a forum and want to ask for help.  To show people what you’re seeing, use Jing!!!

Click Image for a bigger view…
Jing Desktop (Small)

Jing gives you the ability to draw a box around the port of your screen that you’d like to share!  Once you select the area of your screen you’d like to share, Jing automatically “copies” it to your clipboard so you can paste it in post, such as one on Kate’s forum!

Jing Copy

You just paste the “code” into a message board post…

TGTBT Post 1

And voila!  Your image appears, for everyone to see!

TGTBT Post 2

So this is one example where free is truly free and easy to use!



Keep your Consignment Hardware coolIt’s technically still Spring, but step outside down here in Florida and you’ll think differently.  And it’s only getting hotter!

While humans might like a little time in the sunshine, computers do NOT like heat.  Heat is the enemy of a computer.  All too often, computer owners let days turn into months and eventually, a perfectly fine hard drive crashes and burns – along with your important data.

Don’t let a small issue turn into a very costly catastrophe.  Here are a few quick tips to help extend the life of your computer(s):

  • Make sure your computers aren’t hidden away in a cabinet or locked up in such a way that airflow is impeded.  Specifically, most computers have an intake and exhaust system on the front and back of the computer.  Cool air is drawn in (and over the sensitive components inside the computer case) and hot air is blown out.
  • We all know dust can build up when you’re working with a lot of clothing or furniture.  Check the fans/vents on the front and rear of your computer for dust clogs.  An inexpensive can of compressed air will keep the dust bunnies away.
  • Inspect fans to make sure they’re actually working.  Over time, components fail.  Fans (due to problems such as dust build-up) can be one of the first components to fail.  You can usually tell when a fan is running or not just by listening.  If your computer has gotten a lot quieter all of a sudden, take a few minutes to look and listen.  Most computer cases have little vents through which you can see if a fan is spinning or not.  There are also other fans inside you might not be able to see – e.g. the one that’s cooling your CPU (processor).  Removing the side panel on a computer case is very simple to do, but there are some precautions that should be taken.  e.g. be sensitive to static electricity (especially if you’re in a colder area of the country), power the system off before removing the side panel, etc.  If this doesn’t seem like a dead-simple task to you, do not attempt to remove your computer’s side/access panel.  The Computer Peeps can assist you over the phone, to ensure you’re taking all the right precautions.  It’s not like building a rocket, but there are a few tiny pitfalls that can lead to severe issues.

Summer is right around the corner, but your computers would prefer it be Winter all year long (save the static electricity).  Keep them cool and you can prevent serious issues, such as hard drive failures.

Customer Service?

I know each of you out there have experienced this.  You purchase a product or you pay for a monthly service.  You call their customer service and/or technical support department because of an issue.  You get on the phone with a person that simply does not want to help you.  It’s almost as if you’re dealing with some snotty 13-year old that is being uncooperative just because it’s funny.

It’s beyond stressful.  You’re paying for a service or product and said company has hired personnel to assist their beloved customers (e.g. you).  It feels like a brick wall.  But what do you do?  You need the service or product, so you can’t just cancel or return the product (even though your heart is telling you you should).

It struck me – this is just like the Milgram Experiment.  The customer service/tech support rep is “out of touch” – they’ll never know you, never see you…you’re an “object” in a sense, not a person.  They don’t care how they treat you.  They never ask themselves, “how would I feel if my mother was treated this way?”

This is no longer just an abstract.  This pattern of behavior is starting to have real effects on our culture.  One part of our culture is becoming more and more frustrated.  Another part is becoming more and more out of touch with humanity.

I won’t get on a rant here, but I think this is something all of us can relate to.  It’s this very toil, that led to the genesis of The Computer Peeps.  We don’t take you for granted.  We know you are a person, running a business, living a life – not just “someone out there we’ll never meet in real life.”

The Computer Peeps take pride in the relationships we establish.  You’re not just a commodity to us.  We didn’t start this business just to make money.  Yes, we’re all in business to make a profit, but not at someone’s expense.  If done correctly, businesses can make a profit without having to sacrifice the most basic of principles – Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Image Resizer

Something not many are aware of are Microsoft PowerToys for Windows.  What are PowerToys?  Basically, they’re little handy tools or add-ons that probably should’ve been in Windows to begin with.

One of the handiest PowerToys is the ImageResizer.  Once installed, it adds a handy Resize Pictures option on your right-click menu …

Image Resizer

Now you can right-click any image and resize it!  You’re provided with a few of the standard image sizes to pick from …

Image Resizer Dialog

If you click Advanced, you can specify the exact-size you need …

Image Resizer Advanced

Once resized, you’ll have a new copy of your image (it even adds Small, Medium or Large to your image name, depending on which size you selected!)…

Resized Pic Thumb

It looks like Microsoft has yet to release this freebee for Windows 7, but a clone of the utility has been made and is available for free download.

Going to NARTS?

NARTS 2010Are you planning on attending the 2010 NARTS Conference in Palm Beach, FL?  The Computer Peeps are attending!

Something I always hear from new store owners (and even existing ones), is whether or not they can afford to attend.

I think Kate Holmes will agree with us – if you’re serious about your resale business, you can’t afford not to go to Conference.  Conference provides a way for resale store owners to attend classes, meet other store owners, discuss what works and what doesn’t … the list goes on.

But it’s only me and I can’t close my store for 3 days!”  Hey, we’re a small business and we know we can’t afford to miss Conference.  It’s a little different for us since we don’t have a brick and mortar location to man, but where there’s a will there’s a way.  What you’ll learn at conference will more than pay for the few days your store would be closed.

What do you do when there’s an emergency, or when you need a vacation?  Do you have a backup plan, so to speak?  Someone that can cover your store – someone trustworthy.  You don’t have to take new consignments that week and if you have to, pay consignors before you leave or when you get back.

The point is, as a resale store owner, do everything in your power to get to the 2010 NARTS Conference!

Disaster Recovery

Computer CrashWhat would you do if your computer wouldn’t power on?  What would happen if the consignment software you use to manage your business, was inaccessible?  Have you prepared for this event?

It’s one thing to go through each day, accustomed to things just working.  It’s a completely different situation when you go to power on your computer and … blank screen.  Or, you go to launch that one program – you know, the one that runs your business, keeps track of all your consignors and customers, etc. – and all of a sudden, the dreaded ERROR message appears.

Hardware and software can and will fail.  It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.  You spend day after day adding new consignors, entering-in new inventory, ringing up sales…this is your livelihood!  If your systems go down, you should be prepared.  The last thing you want is for panic to ensue.

First things first:


  • If you have only one computer at your store, think about how you would cope if that computer wouldn’t power on one morning.  Do you have the ability to process sales manually?  Are you going to turn away customers if you can’t get into your system or process credit cards?  Make sure you have a game plan ready so you can keep your doors open and keep customers happy!
  • If you have more than one computer in your store, what would happen if the primary computer (typically referred to as the ‘server’) were to fail?  Have you practiced swapping out one of the other systems as a temporary replacement?  Make sure you or the person that takes care of your computers are well-versed in installing the software you use, restoring your data, configuring printers, etc.


The crux to disaster recovery is having a legitimate backup.  Why didn’t I just say “backup”?  Just because you click a button at the end of each day, doesn’t mean your backup is viable.  All backups – regardless of the system in question – should be tested on a regular basis.  So how does one test a backup?  It has to be restored.  You don’t want to do this on the system at your store though; not on a live system.  Instead, do so on a computer at home or on a separate test system.

Having your consignment software installed at home allows you to be prepared for a disaster.  If you have the same software at home, that computer could potentially serve as a backup/temporary replacement computer.  If you take your backups home with you and test them once a week, you’re killing two birds with one stone!

What about tag and receipt printers?  We all know how important tag printing is.  Are you prepared to move your printer to a new computer?  It has to be installed, configured, etc.  Some guffaw at all of this, but it’s a much different story when disaster strikes.

Ask yourself, “what is my time worth to me?”  If you’re into surprises and enjoy chaos, just forget about everything I’ve typed above.  If you know you can’t imagine being without access to your consignor information for two or more days, it’s time to prepare.

To recap:


  • Install your consignment software at home.  It’s good practice and your home computer could potentially serve as a replacement system in a pinch.  Check with your software vendor for licensing terms.
  • Restore your backup once a week.  This ensures your backups are viable.
  • Make sure you know how to get all of your printers up and running, quickly.
  • Make sure you have the ability to process payments, should your systems go down.  Whatever happened to those old, loud card imprint machines?


Just like having a good car mechanic, it’s very important to have a knowledgeable computer technician you can trust.  If you don’t already have a computer technician, it’s worth asking other consignment shops in your area.  Or, utilize the r/consign Sharing Forum where you can post questions and other store owners can provide feedback.

Buying a tag printer

The average cost of a new Zebra LP2844 printer is currently about $350, give or take.  Some companies charge nearly $500 for this model!!!  You can purchase brand new printers or you can try to save a little…well, a lot of money if you purchase a refurbished/used printer.  A quick search of eBay returns quite a few legitimate listings (sellers with high Feedback ratings).

When you’re about to purchase a tag printer, you can go brand new or you can go previously-owned.  Most if not all of the consignment software vendors sell hardware.  The prices across the various vendors range between $350-$450 for the Zebra LP2844.  The benefit of buying your tag printer from your software vendor, is compatibility.  You get a guarantee that the printer is compatible with your software.  Also, you’ll typically receive support for the first 30 days.  e.g. installing the printer, troubleshooting issues, etc.  After 30 days though, all bets are off.  If tags stop lining up, if you move the printer and it stops working, etc. typically, your software vendor will not support the issue – not without paying a fee or being on a “plan”.

On the other end of the spectrum are the previously-owned printers.  You can find a Zebra LP2844 on eBay for around $100.  If you purchase from a reputable seller, you typically get a guarantee (exchange or money back).  If you find a reputable computer technician (eh hem, like The Computer Peeps), you can get a tag printer up and running for a fraction of the price of a new one.

Do The Computer Peeps recommend buying the first tag printer you find on eBay?  No.  Do The Computer Peeps think there are options to consider?  Yes.

We’re not trying to discourage you from purchasing hardware from your software vendor.  There’s something to be said for purchasing everything “under one roof”.  Sometimes however, the cost can be quite high.  You have to ask yourself, “what am I getting for the money?”  Just because you’re spending a ton of money doesn’t mean you’re getting something different or better.  A printer that costs nearly $500 still won’t be supported 6 months after you purchase it.

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