Buy­ing a TV on­line or in a store

The Punch - - GADGET SMART -

IF you are in the mar­ket for a new tele­vi­sion, there are two ba­sic places to shop. Here is a side-by-side com­par­i­son of on­line stores ver­sus re­tail out­lets, ac­cord­ing to Lifewire.

•Who can buy? How soon do you need it? On­line: Most likely, you will need a credit card, Pay­pal ac­count, check­ing ac­count, or some sort of on­line fi­nanc­ing op­tion. You will have to wait for it to ar­rive through the mail.

Re­tail: The eas­i­est place to pur­chase prod­ucts if you have the money. All you need is a way to get there and means to take your item home.

Ad­van­tage: Re­tail

•Prod­uct

se­lec­tion and avail­abil­ity On­line: Ev­ery make and model is at your fin­ger­tips with­out hav­ing to drive miles to find it. If you don’t see your tele­vi­sion at this store, surf to an­other. The only draw­back is you can’t test the prod­uct be­fore­hand un­less you find it at a re­tail store near you, but you can read prod­uct re­views, user opin­ions, and man­u­fac­turer specs with min­i­mal ex­er­tion. Most rep­utable sites make aware of the avail­abil­ity of each item.

Re­tail: Lim­ited to only prod­ucts it sells at the lo­cal level, but you can test your new tele­vi­sion in-per­son be­fore buy­ing it. De­pend­ing on the store size, se­lec­tion may be lim­ited, but avail­abil­ity is al­most al­ways cer­tain. Ad­van­tage: On­line

•Base price

On­line: Gen­er­ally, on­line sell­ers fea­tures lower prices be­cause they don’t have the over­head of rent­ing a pad in a strip mall, high elec­tric bills, and a staff of sales­peo­ple. There are even web­sites that of­fer ‘per­cent off’ dis­counts if you en­ter a code af­ter meet­ing a min­i­mum pur­chase re­quire­ment, which could save even more money. How­ever, pay at­ten­tion to whether or not your tele­vi­sion is brand new or re­fur­bished.

Re­tail: In or­der to com­pete with on­line pur­chas­ing, re­tail out­lets are slash­ing prices all around. Paired with a coupon or spe­cial ‘in store’ dis­count, prices might get as low as some on­line sell­ers. In ad­di­tion, many re­tail out­lets re­sell re­turned items for even lower prices. Ad­van­tage: On­line

•Taxes, ship­ping, and delivery

On­line: De­pend­ing on where you live and what store you buy from, you might not have to pay a sales tax. Ship­ping is a dif­fer­ent story. Some stores don’t charge ship­ping or you can get coupons for free ship­ping while oth­ers do charge, which might drive the fi­nal cost of the tele­vi­sion up sev­eral hun­dred dol­lars.

Re­tail: You will pay your lo­cal sales tax at a re­tail out­let, and there won’t be any ship­ping charges. How­ever, most stores will charge a fee to de­liver your new tele­vi­sion (if you choose) or of­fer free delivery. If they charge for delivery, try to get the fee waived.

Ad­van­tage: Tie

•Cus­tomer ser­vice and war­ranty — re­turns, ex­changes, re­pairs

On­line: This is a sticky point with on­line pur­chas­ing. While most ex­cel in ser­vic­ing the cus­tomer, there’s also a neg­a­tive stigma as­so­ci­ated with on­line sell­ers. Please read user opin­ions be­fore buy­ing and make a gut-call. At times, con­sumers are charged re­stock­ing fees, have to pay for ship­ping if send­ing the item to be fixed through war­ranty, or buy the item with a ‘no re­turn’ clause in the sale. Though, with some war­ranties, the con­sumer will get a re­place­ment model tem­po­rar­ily or per­ma­nently de­pend­ing on the is­sue. Cus­tomer ser­vice is some­times hard to con­tact, and there’s usu­ally no store­front to voice a grievance in per­son.

Re­tail: With a re­ceipt, mod­ern re­tail out­lets are easy to deal with when re­turn­ing, ex­chang­ing, and us­ing the war­ranty. Cus­tomer ser­vice is usu­ally driven to re­tain your busi­ness by any means nec­es­sary, even if it means tak­ing one on the chin ev­ery now and then. To be on the safe side, read their re­turn/ex­change pol­icy be­fore buy­ing.

Ad­van­tage: Re­tail

•Se­cu­rity

On­line: While some peo­ple think buy­ing stuff on­line means your credit in­for­ma­tion is there for the grab­bing, that just is not true any­more. Most on­line re­tail­ers use some sort of 128-bit en­cryp­tion and are as se­cure as bank­ing sites. Sure, there is a risk, but no more than buy­ing in a store. Read user opin­ions, check their se­cu­rity li­cense, and you will be fine.

Re­tail: What is writ­ten for on­line se­cu­rity goes for re­tail se­cu­rity. For the most part, your in­for­ma­tion will re­main pri­vate, but there is al­ways the rare case of iden­tity theft at some level.

Ad­van­tage: Tie

•Where to buy

Buy on­line if you are look­ing for the best pos­si­ble deal. Even with ship­ping charges, most on­line prices are lower. While re­tail can’t com­pete across the board with prices, it has the ad­van­tage in cus­tomer ser­vice.

If meet­ing the sales­per­son, feel­ing a sense of com­mu­nity, and se­cu­rity know­ing you can walk into the store at any time is im­por­tant, then you should buy at a re­tail out­let.

Where to pur­chase is as im­por­tant as what to pur­chase. Be­fore buy­ing, be sure to read the fine print, do a lit­tle re­search on the com­pany you plan on buy­ing from, and ev­ery­thing should be all right.

•Source: www.dig­i­tal­trends.com

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