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Bravo Sierra Computer's Ben Smith

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I just got off the phone with Ben Smith.  He is a really great guy, very nice and personable.  His health is stable, goes to dialysis 3 times a week, but is in good spirits and ready to serve the Atari community.  I have only placed one order from him in all these years (30 or more), but the order was complete, packaged well, and he used reasonable shipping methods/costs.  Give him a call.  He will keep you on the phone.  God Bless those that are still supporting our passion.  

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Nice guy, terrible business man.  I sent him an email using his verbiage in his "catalog" telling him what I wanted and asked for a total with shipping.  Then I called him, figuring he didn't check his email that often.  We chatted (too long).  That was several days ago, still no response.  But, did say he ONLY takes postal money orders.  Fine, but no response.  I will have to order from Bradley.  I hate doing that.  Sorry Ben, but you just lost a sale.   

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I tried to buy an ST and monitor, reasonably priced.  Local so shipping not needed.  However unable or unwilling to send photos.  Gave me the run around via email.  Asked for payment with specific bills: old 20s, some 50s and one 100.  It was bizarre and no guarantee a bank or atm would be able to provide for specifics.  I said never mind, he then said just bring whatever.  But then said I’d have to wait at the door, give cash, they go inside count it (closing door) then come back and give me the goods without any inspection.  I cancelled.  Too bizarre, was like doing a drug deal.

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Yeah that is weird.  I bought some things from him years ago and paid with money order.  They were shipped within a week and arrived in good condition.

 

However, if I encountered what you did, I would surely back away also.

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Ordered something from him many years ago... an Indus 5.25 drive for the ST.

 

It was worth going through some sort of run around for something that rare.

 

That said, aside from the money order stuff and other hoops... He decides he wanted to talk to me about something... and... tries to track down a phone number.  Ends up calling my parent's house (I was named after my father so it wasn't uncommon for us to get mixed up even though I had moved out a fair time earlier).

 

I just happened to be visiting that day and rescued my mom from a very strange and uncomfortable conversation.

 

Seems like a good guy... and I haven't had to deal with Brad yet... but honestly...... Meh... I'd rather pay ebay prices any day and order from MyAtari through ebay.

/s

 

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Ordered stuff from him a few years ago and picked up locally. He gave me a tour of his place. I was shocked at how much inventory he had EVERYWHERE. Overall, good purchase and fun time talking Atari with Ben.

 

Tried to buy some stuff from him a few months ago and asked for photos. He wouldn't send them, so I said no thanks. He lost out to a $200 sale just because he wouldn't send a couple of photos. ??? Oh well.

 

Good to hear he's doing OK though. He was in pretty rough shape when I saw him a few years ago.

Edited by mattsoft

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25 minutes ago, www.atarimania.com said:

I had to use Western Union the last time I dealt with Ben! 

I never used Western Union, how much do they charge? Is is more expensive than Paypal?

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42 minutes ago, Dinadan67 said:

I never used Western Union, how much do they charge? Is is more expensive than Paypal?

 

Maybe something like 3-4%? Not expensive compared to PayPal but a bit outdated for sure!

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Yes Ben is a bit quirky but he is working out of some storage place, selling Atari stuff he got of Atari users years ago switching to PC/Macs. If your expecting Amazon/Walmart/Sears service your being (no offense to anyone) a bit naive. I have bought from Ben a couple times and all went well. Yes, his payment methods are outdated and quirky but Ben is in a restricted situation which makes things difficult for him. Many of the scans of manuals/boxes and disk images I have put out there on varies Atari sites have come from Ben and I was grateful to be able get these programs from him so that others could have access to them.

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I'm not sure if he still does, but he used to take Canadian Postal Money orders (in US dollars).  I ordered a few things from him and had no real issues, but that's at least 10 years ago...

Edited by 8bitguy1
Grammar

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Serious question. Why money orders only? Evading taxes? I'd say, just add them to your customers price ;)

 

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Don't be surprised if he asks you to make out the money order in the name of his caregiver and with no address on it.

 

Not saying this is good, bad, or indifferent; it's just what Ben requests.

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Just now, x=usr(1536) said:

Don't be surprised if he asks you to make out the money order in the name of his caregiver and with no address on it.

 

Not saying this is good, bad, or indifferent; it's just what Ben requests.

I ordered from him about a year ago and I made the M.O. out in his name.  No issues.  I just wished he checked his email.  No idea what amount to make out the check, he hasn't responded. 

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There are some funny business practices with the remaining Atari vendors for sure. I've sort of landed on 'I'm too busy to deal with this nonsense' for both Ben and Brad. Don't get me wrong, I've had no bad experiences in the past, but my patience with the ordering quirks has pretty much expired. I'll pay a little extra to buy from ebay, or hit up some PRGE folks I know before I deal with the 'only takes orders on the 3rd Wednesday of the month when the moon is in Capricorn, and only if you pay by homing pigeon' nonsense. Ordering from best is like dealing with a time warp to '96.

 

Still, I'm glad they're still around for folks.

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I'd imagine many of the long term dealers are a fair age now so 'quirky' behaviour would almost be a given but not sending photo's is just rude. Also I like people who respond promptly because if they can't be bothered to read my email then they probably won't be bothered with sending the item promptly. Sure its not really an issue getting an old Atari part but its just good business to turn stuff around in decent time..

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Mclaneinc said:

I'd imagine many of the long term dealers are a fair age now so 'quirky' behaviour would almost be a given but not sending photo's is just rude. Also I like people who respond promptly because if they can't be bothered to read my email then they probably won't be bothered with sending the item promptly. Sure its not really an issue getting an old Atari part but its just good business to turn stuff around in decent time..

 

 

That's where I am at with Ben.  Still no answer on my email for shipping charges, item availability, etc.   Checked with Brad at Best.  Price for the item is fair, but my Lord, the shipping is almost as much as the item!  I know that is everywhere.  Can't software go media mail?  I suggested it, but he will not do it. 

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I wonder why Brad does this, that and the limited order for some people / items?

 

I wanted to get some 1050 drive support rubber things, Brad very quickly replied and the price was good but the minimum order AND expensive postage just meant it was a non starter...I think it came to 8 bucks before those other two were added which would have been around 58 bucks in the end...No sale...

 

Edit: And because of the overall price I would almost certainly be hit by customs...

 

Brad's a nice guy (to me) but him and Ben just have a really odd concept of how business works...

Edited by Mclaneinc
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16 minutes ago, Mclaneinc said:

 

I wonder why Brad does this, that and the limited order for some people / items?

 

I wanted to get some 1050 drive support rubber things, Brad very quickly replied and the price was good but the minimum order AND expensive postage just meant it was a non starter...I think it came to 8 bucks before those other two were added which would have been around 58 bucks in the end...No sale...

 

Edit: And because of the overall price I would almost certainly be hit by customs...

 

Brad's a nice guy (to me) but him and Ben just have a really odd concept of how business works...

Because if you ship with media mail there is no tracking and takes forever. So if it gets lost it all falls on Brad. I do understand why he does this as much as it sucks.

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Shipping costs in general have made life difficult.  For bits less than 40 bucks or so, shipping is usually way too high to make things economical.  You have to either really want it or try to bundle it up.  I usually try the latter, even with Best but it leads to me adding things I barely want.  For example on my last order from Best I got an Atari Basic Revision C for no other reason than it fills a hole in my collection, I'll probably use it nonce.

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1 hour ago, Mclaneinc said:

Brad's a nice guy (to me) but him and Ben just have a really odd concept of how business works...

They're both nice, but they're both... odd. I have a couple of friends who know Brad very well, hell, one guy I know actually helped Brad go through his warehouse and inventory things. 

THEY still get jerked around by him, have to navigate his bad moods and capriciousness. He still treats them with suspicion.

Both Brad and Bill are nice enough in person, but I get the impression that they do what they do more because they are sitting on the last vestige of old stock anywhere, and that they don't really like dealing with the people much. It's not so much a business to them as an obligation they only half want. Make a decent order that doesn't require them to make a bunch of trips or emails, and it's fine. Do anything that annoys them.... no soup for you.

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1 hour ago, Allan said:

Because if you ship with media mail there is no tracking and takes forever. So if it gets lost it all falls on Brad. I do understand why he does this as much as it sucks.

There is tracking with media mail.  I ship about 5 media mail items each day, and in most cases, I'm finding it's almost as fast as First class (taking 3-5 days to arrive).  Only first class mail has no tracking.

 

 

Edited by Jet-X

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25 minutes ago, Jet-X said:

There is tracking with media mail.  I ship about 5 media mail items each day, and in most cases, I'm finding it's almost as fast as First class (taking 3-5 days to arrive).  Only first class mail has no tracking.

 

 

Interesting. I stand corrected. I just assumed there was not considering the cost. Media mail can bring up issues though because of all the restrictions it has.

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I got the idea of how difficult Brad would to be to work for from posts where people turned up and he was like "go away".

 

And yes, I also get a feeling Brad wants to cling on to the stock, no disrespect to him but it won't be much use in a graveyard, I just wish he would sell it on at a decent price and let someone young and more 2021 take control of it. Like most I detest that website, its an abomination in today's slick and easily searchable sites but as you say, would he let someone do a stocktake and catalogue all his gear, almost certainly not...

 

Such a shame as with a few changes he could retire with a pretty penny, I know its a tough old world out there what with the pandemic and all the international shipping issues but with just a few changes and an assistant he could be getting more orders than ever with a young pair of legs doing the stock picking. Presentation and support is everything in the retail world, if you offer a good service with easily viewable stock then there's riches to be made..

 

There's no room for crotchety behaviour and silly limits...People just pay more elsewhere... 

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