Do You put your Purchases through a Test Drive?
As much as we would like to think so, everything we purchase is not up to the quality that has been advertised. This principle applies to both big name brand products as well as lesser know suppliers. Despite what we may learn from on-line research, word of mouth, and past experiences sometimes we may get a bad copy of a product, which is especially true for electronic devices. Thinking about a 'check-out' is even more important around the holiday season.
We may purchase a variety of products in advance either for ourselves or for others during the holiday season. We may plan to gift and item, or may not use it ourselves saving it for that special day. However, there are some pretty important things to consider particularly since some things may not be immediately obvious to a simple quick look. There are some time honored things to consider initially such as:
- Research - Read to bad things about a product as well as the glowing reviews. Keep in mind that some vendors may actually pay to have their products reviewed in a positive manner.
- How far ahead are you purchasing a product? - You may happen upon a wonderful sale 6 months before a holiday or even a birthday, but what are the return policies if something is wrong?
- Keep your receipts. - Particularly for expensive electronics, think about keeping your receipts in a folder or envelope somewhere in your house. If you are gifting, consider providing the receipt to the person receiving the gift.
- Keep the packaging until you are sure that the device is working. Especially around birthdays and holidays you may be tempted to repackage a gift. Some retailers require you to return a defective product in its original packing. Even if this is not the case, packages are often custom designed for a product. If you need to mail it back to a retailer the original box will likely be the best way to send it back.
- Consider using a credit card for the purchase. These cards add some consumer protection and in the case that you run into a uncooperative merchant, you have the option of a charge back process.
- Accessories- Expensive and easy to find? Keep in mind that if you are purchasing something like a printer, the ink can be VERY expensive and available only from certain retailers.
So, lets say you have decided to buy yourself something nice for your birthday or a holiday. You are pretty good at working though most of the things listed above and you have bought yourself a nice camera or something else electronic. The real question is though how well does it work?
- Are all the parts present?
- Does the device charge, or how long does it hold a charge?
- Does it connect to a home network (how easily)?
- Is it really compatible with other things that you may have?
- Are there features that you may not use often, but do they work? This is especially important for complex electronics such as computers, pads, cameras, ect..
- Is the device user friendly, or do you have to search through on-line manuals to operate most of the features. Obviously some things are more complex than others but if you need to research even the most common features there could be problems.
- What kind of warranty do you have, and have your registered your product with the retailer?
Putting a product though it's paces soon after purchase may save you some headaches with a retailer if you are disappointed in the product. Many retailers are willing to work with a customer to assure brand loyalty or at least avoid complaints. Even so, many retailers may work on a slim margin and may make it difficult to work through problems. Warranty service (when available) may leave you without a product for several weeks especially during busy seasons. You may even have the option in some cases to test out a demo product (such as a camera) in a store that has knowledgeable staff.
Test driving a product may avoid some bitter disappointment!