Syncopated Systems®
Comprehensive Computer Technology Solutions

Selected Vendor Evaluations

To provide service to its business community, Syncopated openly shares information regarding its current and potential use of many vendors and solicits comments and questions via its contact page. (Prospective vendors are requested to review this site and to contact Syncopated if appropriate.)

All organizations should make and use records of transactions in order to avoid repeating poor experiences. (Recall the old adage, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.") For more information, see the Operations Management article.

Entries are listed by type of product and/or serivce provided and stock-keeping unit (sku) used by Syncopated, the vendor and the manufacturer.

Stata of examined vendors fall in these categories:

  • preferred
  • authorized
  • marginal
  • disqualified
Condensed Selected Entries from Syncopated's Authorized Vendors List
SKU/Description Vendor/Mfr. Name Status/Remark
automobiles Daimler-Chrysler (U.S. brands Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, etc.) (Germany & MI) (mfr.) disqualified due to poor designs
Ford Motor Company (MI) (mfr.) disqualified due to poor designs, involvement in Bridgestone-Ford tire safety scandal
Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru brand) (Japan) (mfr.) preferred; comfortable, rugged, sure-footed, low-maintenance, long-lasting
General Motors (MI) (mfr.) disqualified due to poor designs
automobiles: truck: rental Penske preferred
U-Haul (Florida) disqualified 2006 due to poor service, breach of contract
automobile tires Bridgestone/Firestone Tire (mfr.) disqualified due to poor quality (original equipment on Subaru), involvement in Bridgestone-Ford tire safety scandal
Discount Tire (MI) preferred; consistently the best price, service and overall value
Michelin (mfr.) preferred; consistently the best quality
conferences Austin Game Conference (TX) disqualified 2004; identified as source of much poorly-targeted unsolicited commercial email (a.k.a. "Spam")
Game Developers Conference (California) authorized
construction: residential/homes D.R. Horton (formerly Milburn Homes) (mfr.& vendor) disqualified due to poor product quality
document production FedEx Kinko's preferred: open always, helpful, wide range of services, fair prices
electronic printed circuit board fabrication ExpressPCB (California) preferred (for 2-layer p.c.b.s only); consistent, surprisingly fast and accurate order fulfillment and delivery, free software
electronic components vendor, stocking distributor Digi-Key Corp. (Minnesota) preferred; consistent, surprisingly fast and accurate order fulfillment and delivery
electronic components: energy cells and batteries, one-time use (use discouraged due to environmental impact) Duracell (mfr.) preferred
Energizer (mfr.) authorized
electronic components: semiconductors Altera (San Jose, California) (mfr.: programmable logic devices) authorized
On Semiconductor (formerly part of Motorola) (mfr.: analog, discrete, power) authorized
Freescale Semiconductor (formerly part of Motorola) (TX) (mfr.: microprocessors) authorized
Lattice Semiconductor (OR) (mfr.: programmable logic devices) preferred; fast, simple, inexpensive logic solutions, free software and free/inexpensive download cables
Maxim Integrated Products (California) (mfr.) preferred
Texas Instruments (TX) (mfr.) preferred
Xilinx (California) (mfr.: programmable logic devices) disqualified
electronic computers Apple (incl. Apple Store) (California) (mfr. & vendor) disqualified 2006 due to
  • fraudulent misrepresentation and deceptive trade practices (developer tools not shipped with OS X as advertised, misrepresenting customer ratings by removing negative customer reviews from its Web site),
  • very poor customer service ("Have your lawyer contact our lawyers."),
  • poor product quality (iBook died – due to logic board ram failure – after only 2.25 years),
  • repeatedly (6x) failing to honor warranty and issuing defective warranty replacement (at Apple Store, for a failed month-old AirPort Express Base Station)

...all within a 5.5 year period (2001-2007).

Dell (TX) (mfr. & vendor) disqualified; warranty terms incompatible (requiring release of right to sue for breach and arbitration through the National Arbitration Forum)
Gateway (SD) (mfr. & vendor) disqualified; warranty terms incompatible (requiring release of right to sue for breach and arbitration through the National Arbitration Forum)
General Dynamics/Itronix (California) (mfr. & vendor) preferred for former Tadpole Computer rugged (including mil. spec.) SPARCbook notebook and laptop computers
Hewlett-Packard (H-P), incl. Compaq, Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) (TX) (mfr. & vendor) marginal
International Business Machines (I.B.M.) (NY) (mfr. & vendor) authorized
Lenovo (China) (mfr.) authorized for former I.B.M. ThinkPad products
Panasonic (Japan) (mfr.) preferred for rugged (including mil. spec.) Toughbook notebook and laptop computers
electronic computer components: fixed (hard) disk drives Fujitsu (mfr.) marginal
Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (mfr.) preferred for former I.B.M. brands DeskStar, TravelStar
Seagate (incl. Conner Peripherals, Maxtor, MiniScribe, Quantum brands) (California) (mfr.) disqualified 1989 due to poor product quality (Maxtor separately in 1993 due to poor product quality, warranty issues)
Western Digital (mfr.) authorized
electronic computer components: networking devices Cisco Systems (incl. Linksys brand) (mfr.) preferred, though a failed a.c. adapter and customer service lack quality
D-Link (mfr.) disqualified due to poor product quality (incl. obvious design mistakes), poor customer service
electronic computer software Microsoft (Washington) (mfr.) marginal due to poor product quality, unlawful trade practices
electronic equipment: test & measurement Naptech (California) authorized
Telogy (California) authorized
electronic equipment: video production HiTech Enterprises (Florida) disqualified 1999 due to fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of contract
electronic products: consumer: retail Apple Store (California) disqualified (see Apple)
Best Buy (Minnesota) marginal (2007) due to poor returns policy (customer must prove item is defective or pay 15% restocking fee), poor customer service (Web-based contact form nonfunctional)
Fry's Electronics (California) marginal due to poor service, rebate fraud; good returns policy
financial Charles Schwab & Co. (California) disqualified due to poor and declining quality of service
Wells-Fargo Bank (California) disqualified due to poor service, billing practices
financial: insurance State Farm Insurance disqualified due to unlawful trade practices (including "bait-and-switch" methods), apparently common to many offices and agents
food: supermarkets H-E-B Supermarkets (San Antonio, Texas) preferred; consistent low prices, good quality and value
food service In-n-Out Burger (California) preferred; consistent good quality
McDonald's Corp. (IL) disqualified due to poor quality
Starbucks Coffee (Washington) marginal due to poor value, apparent predatory operation
Internet Web site development services see Austin Area Web Site Developer Rankings
legal arbitration National Arbitration Forum (N.A.F.) (Minnesota) disqualified; dispute pending (2007/04/11-)
office supplies Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M) (Minnesota) (mfr.) preferred; consistent good quality and value
Office Depot (Florida) marginal
telecommunication American Telegraph and Telephone (A.T.&T.), formerly S.B.C. Communications (formerly Southwestern Bell Corp.) and Cingular Wireless (San Antonio, Texas) disqualified due poor quality of service (inconsistent with federal law), poor customer service, billing practices; apparent abusive monopoly
T-Mobile (Deutche Telekom) authorized
Time-Warner Cable authorized
transportation: passenger: air (use discouraged per policy) America West Airlines (AZ) disqualified (twice) due to poor quality of service, poor customer service
American Airlines (Texas) marginal due to poor ground service, breach of contract (devaluing frequent flier program)
Southwest Airlines (Texas) preferred; good service overall, good frequent flier program
transportation: passenger: surface rail AmTrak disqualified due to poor schedules, poor value, (unconstitutional) prohibition on possession or transportation of firearms
transportation: parcel Federal Express (FedEx) (TN) marginal due to poor service
United Parcel Service (U.P.S.) marginal due to poor service
United Stated Postal Service (U.S.P.S.) marginal due to poor service, lost mail (usually only when sending checks), forwarding requests not processed as advertised, (unconstitutional) prohibition on possession of firearms
utility: energy Austin Energy (City of Austin) authorized
Texas Gas Service preferred
Web site development services see Austin Area Web Site Developer Rankings

For further reading about business management, see An Introduction to Business and Operations Management.