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Is it better to buy online?


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#1 of 23 OFFLINE   Lanny_B

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Posted September 19 2002 - 12:24 PM

Would you buy, say, and HDTV online? Is there a great online electronics store? I go to my local electronics stores (Circuit City and Ultimate electronics) and I never know if they're just trying to sell me what they've got in front of them, if they're trying to rip me off, or if the deal really is a good one. So, is buying online a good idea?

#2 of 23 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted September 19 2002 - 01:49 PM

Lanny, Before buying a set anywhere, do as much research as you can here and at other Home Theater Spots. When comparing in stores, try to adjust the set yourself to get the best picture possible, but keep in mind that store feeds are often lousy and cabling isn't the best. You can pretty much ignore the pitch from the sales guys. Once you've made a decision on which set to buy keep in mind that although you will often get better pricing online, once the set is delivered it's yours and any problems must be resolved via the mfg warranty process. So if the set is DOA or developes a problem soon after delivery, you must rely on the mfg warranty for service. If you simply decide you can't live with it's stretch modes or line doubling and would prefer another make, you're stuck. On the other hand, most B&M stores have a 30 day no-hassle return or exchange policy. If your dream set turns out to be a dud or just doesn't meet your expectations, you can return it or exchange it for a different model. On 2 occasions in the last 6 years I've bought sets that turned out to be dissapointing once I got them in my home. Both times I exchanged for different models with no hassle and was satisfied.
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I prefer not to push the subwoofers until they're properly run in.

#3 of 23 OFFLINE   Lanny_B

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Posted September 19 2002 - 02:36 PM

Awesome Steve, thanks. I'm not yet familiar with what B&M means... fill me in? So basically you're saying that I should find out online the model I want, and go in and track it down in a store. Is it often that you find a model available online that you can't find in a store?

#4 of 23 OFFLINE   Mark Lehmkuhl

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Posted September 20 2002 - 02:55 AM

Personally I would not buy an RPTV on line, though many do. What a nightmare in returning it if something was wrong. Not worth the few hundred you save. Negotiate a lower price with a local dealer instead. For example, I've seen many post that Circuit City will not 10% off with just a little prodding.

#5 of 23 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted September 20 2002 - 01:06 PM

Definitely look at sets in the stores, just try to make sure they are all displaying from the same source and experiment with adjusting the picture controls in the stores. When you find one or a few you like, then start your online research as far as what other's experiences have been with those particular models. BTW, be sure to write down the exact mfg. model number of the sets you like before doing any research on the internet. There can be big differences in individual models from a given mfg, and you want to be sure you're researching the exact model you're considering. Depending on how large a metropolitan area you're in, you should be able to find almost any model in a local store that you can find on the 'net. Different stores carry different mfgs, and some stores don't carry every model from the mfgs they do carry. Circuit City carries Hitachi, Panasonic, Sony, but not Toshiba or Mitsubishi. They do carry pretty much all models available from the mfgs they do sell. Sears carries most makes, but usually not the higher end models--they have the lower end Toshibas but not the high end ones, as is the case for Mits and Sony. Best Buy likewise doesn't sell the higher end models, and their Mits models are numbered differently from those available elsewhere, making comparison shopping difficult if you're shopping Mitsubishi. Costco has widescreen Toshibas, but under a different model number from Tosh sets found elsewhere. The main thing is to take your time, look around a lot, do lots of research, ask lots of questions.
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I prefer not to push the subwoofers until they're properly run in.

#6 of 23 OFFLINE   Scott Tucker

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Posted September 20 2002 - 05:34 PM

Steve says, "You can pretty much ignore the pitch from the sales guys." That's what i want to hear after my 13 hour shift at Ultimate Electronics. Yeah, I spend over 500 hours a year in training and countless hours on sites like this even after midnight of a long day so that customers can ignore me. That's great advice. Not all sales people are out to screw the customers. Some of us actually take pride in perfecting the craft of being able to help others be successful with their electronics purchase. It's the people that ignore the guy trying to help them that get the shaft every time. Steve also says, "On 2 occasions in the last 6 years I've bought sets that turned out to be dissapointing once I got them in my home. Both times I exchanged for different models with no hassle and was satisfied." Hey Steve, who did you call on the 2 occasions when you wanted to return those sets, the salesperson you ignored? Remeber, the average person will spend over $50,000 on electronics in a lifetime. Most salespeople want that money, and we realize for us to keep you coming back again and again we must treat you right and help you find what will truly make you successful, not just the quick sale. Lanny, go back to Circuit or Ultimate and find a salesperson that knows what he or she is talking about and that you feel you can trust. Once you find the right professional he will make it easy and enjoyable to buy what ever it is you are looking for. Good luck! Scott
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#7 of 23 OFFLINE   Lanny_B

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Posted September 20 2002 - 06:37 PM

Cool, Scott. I wish I knew that you were the guy at my Ultimate. I do love most the workers at my local Ultimate store, especially as far as service goes. That goes a long way, and is why I consider them first for my purchases. I just wish I knew if they spent as much time on here and perfecting their craft of knowing how to help. It's great to hear that you do though. You know what one deal is: I'm always extra paranoid I can't take their word for it. Like, I hear them say something is good, and I think "now I'll have to drive home and check the internet and see if that's really a good model." I almost wish... and maybe this will sound funny, but I wish they'd have a computer w/ Internet in the store where I could look stuff up, or they could show me reviews and stuff to add more credibility. I don't know if that idea would work or not, but usually between all the drives back and forth from the store, amidst all my other life interuptions that I forget to finalize my purchase.

#8 of 23 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted September 21 2002 - 01:55 PM

Scott, My abject apologies to you, but you do realize that you are the exception to the rule as far as salespeople's expertise on what they're selling? We don't have any Ultimate Electronics stores here, just Good Guys CC and BB, as well as Sears. No salesperson in any of these stores has had the level of expertise you have, I wish they did. It was wrong of me to generalize, but I think you might agree that the average sales person in most electronics chains is not as well versed as you are on the merchandise they are selling. Again, it was wrong of me to make such a blanket generalization. My only excuse was that at the time I had a picture in my mind of the blue shirt guys at BB and the signs in front of every rptv in the store proclaiming them to be "digital light projection." As a matter of fact, on the first exchange I dealt with a salesperson other than the one who sold me the set. This was at Good Guys. The original sales person and the one who handled my exchange were very helpful. I have on a couple of occasions had my brain picked by sales guys at GG, and on one occasion helped one make a sale he was about to lose. A couple was staring at the computer screen showing their prospective purchase of a Mits widescreen, dvd player, and Bose sound system and about to walk out because the sales guy could not drop the price on the tv by $500. I politely suggested to the customer that substituting a midlevel Yamaha or Denon reciever and purchasing an Energy surround sound speaker setup would end up saving them that $500 and would probably sound better and have better flexibility than the Bose setup. To be fair, I have no way of knowing whether the Bose was the customer's or the sales guys idea originally. I do know the wife wanted the speakers to be as small as possible. I mentionned to her that the Energy TAKE-5 speakers were almost as small as the Bose and had a black piano finish that would match the mits diamond series set they were buying. I left, but on my next visit that salesman thanked me for my suggestion and said the couple did end up buying a system from him. On the second exchange, at CC I was instructed by the salespeople to go talk to the girl at the customer service desk, who handled my exchange quite well. I once was lucky enough to run into a salesman with your level of professionalism back in 1985, who successfully talked me out of one of those god-awful Fisher rack systems in favor of a much more modest looking but cheaper and better performing setup. Thank you for correcting me, I will remember it and in future won't make such blanket disparaging comments again. I am a dealership auto service tech by trade and truly resent the stereotyping of my profession so should have been more sensitive. I've often thought that I would be happier doing what you do for a living than rotating monster-truck tires on a daily basis. If I'm ever in your neck of the woods I'd like to come to your store and say hi so ya can punch me in the nose if you so desire.
Steve S.
I prefer not to push the subwoofers until they're properly run in.

#9 of 23 OFFLINE   Scott Tucker

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Posted September 21 2002 - 04:13 PM

Steve, after leaving that post last night I was kinda afraid to see what you or others may of had to say. I must say, I was presently suprised to see an apology to me. Steve, you should be in sales because last night i was hating you, and today i want to be your best friend. I too am sorry for taking personal such a general statement about salespeople. You are right. Most salespeople don't know anything about the products they sell, so I can epathize with you. I must admidt. Even I don't know as much as most people on this forum it seems, so I keep coming back to learn as much as i can. Thank you so much for being so empathetic with me Steve. You are certainly a gentleman and a scholar. Regards, Scott
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#10 of 23 OFFLINE   Scott Tucker

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Posted September 21 2002 - 04:19 PM

Lanny, I am so glad to hear you make Ultimate your first stop. I don't know which one you are near, but we have the internet on every terminal in our store. I go online all the time to look up stuff for customers. I'm sure if you ask your salesperson they wouldn't mind at all to do that for you. If they won't find another salesperson. Let me know if I can help in any way. Scott
"He's right. The ear's hacked off." Mr. Pink from Reservoir Dogs.

#11 of 23 OFFLINE   BruceSpielbauer

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Posted September 21 2002 - 04:26 PM

Steve (and Scott): >>> Again, it was wrong of me to make such a blanket generalization. My only excuse was that at the time I had a picture in my mind of the blue shirt guys at BB and the signs in front of every rptv in the store proclaiming them to be "digital light projection." << An excellent post, Steve. And, Scott, please, PLEASE, keep reminding all of us that there ARE salespeople out there, both in the Mom and Pop stores, and even in the chains, who care about their customers, who do their homework, and who take pride in their level of expertise and their customer service. Scott, I, too, have had so many ridiculous experiences with so many salespeople in the audio / video field that I could have easily written that same post, in haste, and made the same broad, sweeping generalizations. And, I would have been wrong, of course. I hope to one day come across you, Scott, in some home theater store. I hope to one day give you the benefit of a sale. I have come across others who also exemplified the "knowledgable" salesperson. Unfortunately, lately, it seems that it has been awhile, and I have found myself engaged in conversations (or overhearing conversations) where the salesperson is simply "making things up as he goes along," or "shooting from the hip," or perhaps sadly misinformed... it is experiences such as those which can cause us all to forget that not all electronics salespeople are "like that." It is experiences such as these which cause so many of us to become jaded, and to begin to stoop so low as to "paint with a broad brush," which should never be done. Please, Scott, I hope you will not take offense. Be patient with us. We as consumers are faced with (sadly) so many uninformed and ill-informed salespeople, that it is easy to stereotype, and to begin to make assumptions. Yes, that is wrong. And, we need to be better than that. We need to realize that there are salespeople out there who try to be knowledgable, who care about customers, who have ethics, who work hard, who are experts in their fields, and who are "first-class." And, I am glad that you are here, Scott, to give us the benefit of your expertise, and also to learn, so that your customers tomorrow will benefit from this. Steve, I have rarely seen a post on forums such as this one (the apology) with such class. Having read many other posts written by you, though, I was not suprised when I came to the "by-line." Kudos. Glad you are here. Take care, -Bruce in Chi-Town

#12 of 23 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted September 21 2002 - 06:22 PM

[quote] I go to my local electronics stores (Circuit City and Ultimate electronics) and I never know if they're just trying to sell me what they've got in front of them [quote] If you're looking for better service or more knowledgable salespeople, you won't find them online. And online stores will gouge you on price if you choose the wrong one.

Just like any other significant purchase, you have to do your homework. Ultimately, the salespeople want to sell you their product from their store with their extended warranty.

Of course, it seems that most all name-brand TVs are good, and even the less known brands can have some real strengths. It's getting harder to go wrong on a purchase. It's more a matter of getting great versus good or adequate, it seems.

#13 of 23 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted September 21 2002 - 10:50 PM

Scott, When I read Lanny's post about stores having internet access so customers could look stuff up right there in the store, it was like he had read my mind as I've often thought the same thing. To later read that you actually do this for folks was really a revelation. I'd much rather have a sales person tell me "I don't know but I can find out" in response to a question than to just wing it. I hope your efforts at gaining knowledge and acting with a high level of professionalism are rewarded as they deserve to be.
Steve S.
I prefer not to push the subwoofers until they're properly run in.

#14 of 23 OFFLINE   EugeneR

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Posted September 22 2002 - 01:39 PM

[quote] If you're looking for better service or more knowledgable salespeople, you won't find them online. And online stores will gouge you on price if you choose the wrong one. [quote]

The trick is to find the right online store. I keep sounding like I work for them because I keep plugging them, but I believe in rewarding places that give me great service:OneCall has knowledgeable, patient salespeople as well as outstanding prices (not having to pay tax helps too). I have purchased a receiver, a DVD player and recently an RPTV from them, and have been very happy with the service every time. When my wife bought a DVD player for her parents from them, the player turned out to be out of stock, and they called to apologize and asked if they could substitute a better player at no extra cost, which they did. When I bought my RPTV the salesperson spent twenty-five minutes on the phone describing to me what I should do if there is the slightest problem with the TV when I got it (there were no problems). As far as probloems are concerned, the service of your electronics is usually done by a third-party tech anyway; returns of large items like an RPTV still involve having someone come to your house to pick it up. So, whilte buying online is not necessarily the best choice for everyone, I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand. I've had very good experiences, and saved quite a bit of money.

If you are considering buying from an online stores, research them. A very good resource for customer feedback on internet electronics stores is AVSurvey

#15 of 23 OFFLINE   NatL

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Posted September 26 2002 - 03:00 PM

OneCall seems to offer a lot of "free shipping" but the fine print says that is only curbside shipping. To get it inside you need "white glove" - does anyone know how much extra that is for an RPTV? N

#16 of 23 OFFLINE   elMalloc

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Posted September 27 2002 - 01:08 AM

$100-$200 for the size of the set. I don't think it's that hard for a group of people to bringit in for you. -ELmO

#17 of 23 OFFLINE   MichaelFusick

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Posted September 27 2002 - 02:09 AM

Even Onecall has a lacking return policy compared to large chain stores, which offer 30 day money back no questions asked with no restocking fees or delivery/shipping fees.

I don't think onecall.com does that... You don't get 30 days. You have to pay for shipping back too.

A real store down the street will take care of you too...

infact, I have to return to a customers house tonight at 5pm to install a splitter so they can use thier PIP function since the delivery guys forgot to set it up while they were there. Try getting and internet company to do that for you.....

Steve S, I have been looking things up for customers online for years now, It's a CC encouraged thing since the stores all carry broadband.

You'll never go wrong with a brick and mortar store down the street with good support and return policies. Some places like CC and Sears even service what they sell, so in the event of a problem even a year down the road you know who you can call and have it taken care of. I know this week, my Circuit City store MGR exchanged a 6 month old Hitachi for a customer because repairs and replacement of the convergence board would be quite a hassle. Of coarse we could have fixed it, but the time and hassle involved was unacceptable to the customer and as soon as I talked to him about it, he agreed to exchange it the next day for a brand new one. You'll never get as good service from the internet, espeacially down the road and after the sale.

Infact, I think Steve S exchanged one or two sets he bought before settling on the one he has now, it would have been unpleasant to get stuck with a bad one and have to go the service route.

For recievers, DVD's and DVD players, other electronics the www.---- can save some money, but for TV's given shipping it's usually not even that much cheaper.

Besides all the good stores price match any way, so there is never really any good reason to buy it online anymore if you can get the same deal down the street.


#18 of 23 OFFLINE   Jan Strnad

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Posted September 27 2002 - 03:25 AM

When I went Toshiba RPTV shopping, I found the model I wanted at Fry's, but all they had was a display set. They were willing to knock $100 off the regular price. $100 off a $1500 RPTV that'd been playing 12 hours a day for six months? No thanks. Good Guys offered a 10% discount off a price of $1999, bringing the set down to Best Buy's normal price. Best Buy would price match with a local dealer only, not an online dealer, and I had to get a "sales slip" from that dealer showing the price. Why would I shop around and get documentation from some place in order to go back to Best Buy for the privilege of buying there? They also wouldn't lower the price, throw in free delivery, or do anything to make me think they wanted my business. They even acted put out when I said I wanted to buy the set; the clerk called over to someone else and said, "Can you ring this guy up?" In the end, I canceled the order at the last minute, went home and ordered through OneCall.com, got a lower price, free shipping, no sales tax, and a knowledgeable and courteous sales person who even called up after the scheduled delivery to see if everything went okay. I received the set at my front door, signed for it, then the delivery men volunteered to place it inside in my living room for me. I tipped them $20 and hooked the set up myself. No problems. I appreciate being able to compare sets at local B&Ms, though the setups are often so horrible that it's hard to compare one set to another very meaningfully. I'd rather buy locally and support those businesses. But if I'm going to treat them with respect, they have to treat me with respect. Act a little interested in getting my business. OneCall.com did that. BB and Fry's and Good Guys didn't. If I could have found a good, knowledgeable B&M in my area, and if they'd have offered a little something to make me feel good about my purchase...free delivery (Pacific Sales in Torrance, CA offers this PLUS low prices), a set of component cables, something...I'd have paid the extra $300+ to buy locally. But since I was treated more as a sucker/annoyance, I shopped online with a clear conscience and lucked out with a good set with no problems. YMMV. Jan
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#19 of 23 OFFLINE   MichaelFusick

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Posted September 27 2002 - 04:18 AM

Not everyones exerience is a good one unfortunately. I am sorry to hear that. The company I work for values customer service more than anything else, and the entire staff would bend over backwards if needed to make you happy. This is a new move to make it a top tier electronics retailer. New training and sale counselor certification processes, as well as better return polices, price match plus policies, and total elimination of restocking fees even on computers and laptops help ensure that too.. I guess not everyone is the same for B@M's. I was baseing that post on my employment bias, I appologize for being very general but was also trying to avoid seeming like I was plugging or advertising for a particular company at the same time as this does not seem to be tolerated or allowed, yet the conversation was on the subject and I wanted to express my personal opinion. I think most times, not buying it online is still a safer bet in the long run though..

#20 of 23 OFFLINE   Mike Boeckeler

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Posted September 27 2002 - 04:35 AM

I just bought a Panasonic 47wx42 from Best Buy...ONLINE. Had I hopped into my car and driven to Best Buy, pulled out my wallet and purchased this RPTV, I would have been charged over $150 for shipping. By ordering online, I get free shipping, and didnt have to waste several hours driving to and from Best Buy. Mike




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