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Topic: Sparkfun overpriced (Read 37537 times) previous topic - next topic


Yeah, if they are getting so big that simple shipping issues are a problem they should let a fuffilent company handle the warehousing and dispatch and do board making, design and customer support in house, solving quite a few issues there.


I do kind of agree with this. I think that was probably just one isolated incident though.



I dunno, I always had shipping issues, not the wrong stuff, nor anything else, just getting them to send it, I guess I didnt spend enough to get VIP treatment and have my stuff shipped within a week of ordering it

(now cue the fanboi to negate my personal statement with a FACT since they never had a issue)


now cue the fanboi to negate my personal statement with a FACT since they never had a issue

Hehe not sure I have seen any facts so far...

I'm still kinda in the middle...



If you need a part/toy/widget now from Sparkfun buy it ... but
smart shoppers always goes some place else to save on their dollars, yen, marks, pounds & euros.
Anything Sparkfun has you can probably get from a far east supplier at a much lower cost.
You just have to wait several weeks on shipping.

Example price check:
Note: The Sparkfun DS1307 RTC widget must be gold plated.

Sparkfun DS1307 Real Time Clock -  BOB-00099                        $19.95 (USD)
Futurlec DS1307 Real Time Clock -  DS1307 RTC Mini board         $ 7.90 (USD)
SEEED Depot DS1307 REAL TIME CLOCK - Electronic Brick RTC    $13.50 (USD)

Cheaper is better  ;D ;D ;D
"Never trust an Internet bully who insults and makes fun of your level of intelligence."


Jul 11, 2010, 07:44 pm Last Edit: Jul 11, 2010, 07:46 pm by Osgeld Reason: 1
yea considering there is a 3.29$ chip (that is for single quantities in dip chip) a 25 cent crystal, a 50 cent battery holder and a 1.50$ battery its hard to beat 7.90$ unless your into doing a quantity of over 100

but yea I would build one (lets face it, its not that hard) on perfboard before handing over 20$ + shipping for one


My first home-etched PCB was a DS1307 breakout board because I refused to pay that much :P.

Got the free same from Maxim, and paid ~5-10 bucks including shipping for everything else.

Plus it was a fun experience :).


My first (well, only) Arduino I own came from Sparkfun; I've also ordered other components from them as well. I've never had a problem, and their shipping was insanely quick - but it helps being only a state away!

Yes, they are hobbyists, but they obviously have some business savvy. According to their history, SparkFun was started because they were in college/university (MIT?) and needed parts for a project - a lot of parts. Nobody could source the parts, so they did it themselves, and a company was born to do the same (and more) for others.

Can you get their stuff cheaper elsewhere? Certainly. Are they perfect on their shipping and customer support? Not likely - who is? Will they bend over backwards to help you? Maybe - how nicely did you ask?

Honestly, for them to be doing as well as they are in this economy says something about them as a business; what exactly that is, I am not certain, but they are doing something right, I think.

Businesses don't exist to sell things to customers at the cheapest price - they exist to sell things to customers for what the customer will pay for it. Indeed, there have been businesses which didn't last long precisely because they under-priced their product. Yeah, I know that seems crazy, but we are talking about humans here, which isn't exactly the most rational species on the planet.

As with everything, you need to shop around, and make decisions based on price, shipping time, needs, reputation, customer service, quality of product, etc. For some things, for me, I would probably buy from SparkFun. For other items, I would go to other vendors - even Ebay vendors (I have a few on my list that I like). For still other items, especially if I need it quick, I will check local stores and surplus outlets.

Finally - sometimes "cheapest" isn't "better"; sure, you can get a cheap alternator from AutoZone with a lifetime full-replacement warantee; but you'll be taking that thing in and out of your car every six months - but it must be better because its cheaper, right? What's your time worth? For me, I'd rather spend the extra money at Napa.

I will not respond to Arduino help PM's from random forum users; if you have such a question, start a new topic thread.


My first (well, only) Arduino I own came from Sparkfun

Mine too but I have about 5 now :)



Jul 12, 2010, 05:31 pm Last Edit: Jul 12, 2010, 05:31 pm by Meinaart Reason: 1
I really like Sparkfun and their website. I think their branding is great, they really seem to be electronics enthusiasts themselves. For me their enthusiasm is even a bit infectious.

Sparkfun is a great place to shop if you just start out in electronics. They seem to specialize in somewhat more complete components such as breakout boards. The information on the website is also great, with clear links to sample code and comments from customers.

I kind of understand that someone is willing to pay (for example) $7.95 for an electret mic breakout board. It literally took me hours to get an electret mic working on an Arduino (I didn't use the Sparkfun breakout board ;)). Although it's also quite educational to try to create things from more basic components yourself. Convenience versus price ;).

Sparkfun's assortment is also quite impressive. They have a lot of components that are not that easy to find elsewhere. I like browsing through their website and think of projects I could use their parts for. For me it's sometimes efficient to order everything at one webshop because of the shipping costs; Sparkfun seems the best choice.

They ask a premium for the product they offer. For some of their products I am willing to pay that.

I get a kick out of getting things as cheap as possible. So I probably won't be ordering (a lot) from Sparkfun again in the near future. I love companies like Farnell/RS Components (I live in Europe; they are comparable to Digikey and Mouser I think) who offer components for unbeatable prices (and extreme fast delivery). But most of this kind of companies don't sell more specialized products such as Arduino shields.

SeeedStudio is also a very cool company. I ordered some stuff there once and I think it took more then a month to arrive. That's a big disadvantage of ordering stuff from China/Hong Kong.


I like SF, when I need something today and need to know that support (from SF or from other hobbyists) exists for a particular chip/board/etc I'll buy their product.  

If I want cheap, questionable, and 3 week shipping, I can get it cheaper from China directly.  The catch is that if SF didn't exist to serve us in the US with quick shipping and selecting products that they'll support to sell to us I wouldn't be able to buy the cheap products from China and use them successfully.

I've ordered a few hundred dollars in products from them (and missed the free day!!!) and have never had any problems with anything not working.  I've worked with their customer service with board level questions and they've gotten back to me quickly so they clearly know the products they're selling.

What you're paying the extra dollar or two for is having a local company that speaks english selling, supporting, and acting as a one stop shop where you can get these products, which yes, do come from overseas!  


Also, regarding the warranty comment, it's electronics, for everyone that's ever hooked up a capacitor/IC backwards and watching it release it's magic smoke, there's no way of knowing how/when/why it died on it's way from manufacturer to your desk.

Think about it this way, the manufacturers assure 99.9% perfection in their manufacturing and testing chain, the chance of SF shipping you dead components is tiny, the chance of you destroying components is very high, I don't blame them for not taking returns, I wouldn't either in their position :-P



Jul 12, 2010, 06:18 pm Last Edit: Jul 12, 2010, 06:20 pm by Osgeld Reason: 1
That is a bothersome trend in all consumer relations these days, you are stupid, it must have been your fault, the customer is ALWAYS wrong

Its like the week long battle with the phone company when I moved last year, we wont spend 1 second of our time with you because you must have screwed something up inside (like plugging in a DSL modem) if you agree to accept a bill we can come out and fix it for you, if we were wrong we will issue a credit (at some undisclosed future event)

I dont have the time or patience for that kind of crap, and so I told them where to stuff it and went with another company

if sparkfun automatically assumes their customer is going to screw something up, then THEY need to sit down and make a proper design that removes that week point, with the markup's they have on these things they could toss in a few diodes


I think one of the reasons that the customer is always wrong these days is because the honesty and civility in our country is on the decline.  More and more, it is look out for yourself and screw the other guy.  Just look at the number of lawsuits at any particular time.  All of this to say that Waterppk is right, if it's an electronic device and you hooked it up, it's yours, no refund.  This is the same policy in automotive and other industries as well.

I too have had good experiences with SF.  I've ordered several parts and had no problems with shipping or the items I received.  The complaints about pricing are a bit ignorant, I think.  No one knows how much they pay for parts, manufacturing, or engineering time.  They have a staff, warehouse, manufacturing facility, etc. that must be paid for.  None of us knows what kind of margins they operate on.  They are obviously providing a good service to a lot of people or their business wouldn't be expanding.  They provide chips with pins so close together that no one could do it with an iron.  That takes a very expensive machine to build those parts.  Hobbyists didn't used to have access to some of those things.  Now we have breakout boards.  I tip my hat to them.  Great job!


@flyboy - but when I could produce a part in eagle, buy parts from digikey and have it manufactured in panels at somewhere like Dorkbot for less money per part than SparkFun - there is something wrong there.

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