Issues with older systems
If Grandma Wilson's 28.8K modem in her old 486DX2/66 dies, you are talking probably around $100-150 for a Legacy modem that will work with the system, then on top of that, at least 40 dollar for the installation and testing of the new device as well. That's nearly 200 dollars right there, all for a modem!
Sounds nuts when you consider that you can buy a crappy Winmodem for about 20 Bucks online, but there's the problem. A Winmodem requires a processor with more "oomph," because it offloads duties to the CPU. A Winmodem usually requires a Pentium 90 or higher.
Even if you have the correct part, there is still no guarantee that the device will perform. This leaves us with a double edged blade because depending the circumstances, you cannot get that old system repaired cheaply, but upgrading is still too expensive, and usually leaves you getting a lot more than you really needed in the first place. This leaves us with a customer that feels ripped off, which is unfortunate, but sometimes there is just no other choice.
It's not Cheap
Strictly speaking for my own store, we are not cheap, but that is because we deal in name brand retail box merchandise that we buy in small quantities from large scale vendors. As you can imagine, that drives up the cost quite a bit. As I said in my first article, small businesses tend to try to offset that cost by buying and selling crap, usually from some no name vendor selling white box devices made by a no name company.
These noname devices make support a huge problem. If you buy a crappy device that dies two months later, will you know who to call for a replacement? Part of my daily workload (in addition to the managing the store front, handling shipments, paperwork AND the repair benches) is telling solicitors to take us off their calling lists. I get several calls, and faxes daily from another no-name company pitching no-name parts at insanely low prices. I just politely ask them to take us off their calling list. These are the companies that give the rest a bad rep, buying and selling on the cheap.
You won't find many small shops that deal with large distributors. It usually costs money just to open a merchant account with that vendor, and they usually charge more per item for the small quantity of goods that a small shop is likely to buy. This adds to the total cost, and drives up the final price of the goods a small shop sells.