Computer shows (also known as computer markets or computer fairs) can be some of the best places to purchase a new PC, Mac, games console or computer accessory. Often the traders at computer shows are willing to haggle on price, so you could negotiate yourself a real bargain.
The exhibitors at UK computer fairs fall into two categories: local computer businesses that have a local shop, and mail order/internet-based companies that have travelled to the area for the fair. All the exhibitors will be eager for your business and prepared to haggle on price, especially as they will want to sell off their stock instead of transporting it back to their premises. You may find you can get them to reduce their prices - especially if you can show them a price list from a competitor at the fair - or get them to include accessories for free that they normally charge for.
The best strategy is to buy a copy of a computer magazine like Personal Computer World or Compteractive and find the prices of the items you know you want to buy beforehand, so you can compare prices at the show. Take the magazine with you too - you may be tempted by something else and need to compare prices on that as well.
Walk around all the stalls, noting down any stalls and prices that catch your eye (writing on the magazine itself may be easiest) and then sit down in the cafe/restaurant at the venue and compare them. Then wander back and check any details you need to find out to make a true comparison. Then wait: the best time to haggle is the last 45 minutes, when vendors are surveying what they haven't sold, are feeling tired and are not looking forward to having to load up their car or van with their stock.
Now's the time to pounce! Politely tell them what you are interested in, mention you've seen it on a few other stalls, and then start with a low offer. Let haggling commence! Remember that you can haggle to lower the price or to get accessories or supplies thrown in for the asking price, e.g. blank CDs, cable extensions, extra Ram etc.
Some exhibitors will be willing to part exchange your old games (genuine DVDs/CDs/disks only) or equipment for items on their stalls or for cash. This can be a good way of turning old computer equipment that's gathering dust into cash or into something useful like a new game, controller or blank CD.
One of the often overlooked advantages of going to a computer show is that you can talk face to face with companies before buying from them, allowing you to form an impression about them, ask any questions you have and seek technical advice. This is one of the major differences between computer shows and the high street chains, whose staff are mainly sales people, driven primarily by closing the sale to earn commission. By comparison, good small businesses will want to sell you the right software or hardware because they want you to recommend them to your friends and contacts.
Your statutory rights under the Sale of Goods Act cannot be taken away and apply at computer shows. Make sure that with any purchase you get the exhibitor's full personal name, company name, address, phone number and a receipt detailing the item(s) purchased, time, date and price. Any organised company will provide this as a standard.