Wednesday, 25 January 2012

I bought more than a television today.

Back in November I wrote about my experience of television sales guys after my television went black and left a horrible smell.  Since then, I've done lots of thinking, talked to lots of people, clicked on a lot of websites and today, I finally handed over the money.  No more encounters with sales guys.  At least not in the capacity of sales.

I bought my last television over twelve years ago.  A lot has changed since then. And I don't just mean in relation to televisions!  But since we're talking about televisions, consideration has to be given to plasma, LED, LCD, WIFI, dongles, HDMI cables, blu-ray, 3D and high def is just standard these days anyway.  Talk about smart! These TVs are smarter than the guys selling them.  And they are all guys.

Buying any kind of big ticket item is interesting against the back drop of all the economic commentary about the Australian dollar, the two-speed economy and what's really going on in the retail sector.  Is it all over because of the internet?  I've been thinking about these things.

My dead television (faithful servant that it was) was a Sony.  The first place I went for a replacment was Sony.  My first conversation was with a Sony sales guy - not the one I wrote about.  He spent a lot of time with me, explaining all the stuff about televisions these days.  I really didn't know anything.  I walked out after about half an hour with a business card and some prices written on it.  Naturally I went down the road to the other shop and had the encounter with the television sales guy that I did write about.  He wasn't interested in a relationship, he just wanted to sell me the biggest possible television at the biggest possible price, probably with a lot of stuff that I didn't even know I didn't want.

Then I went away for Christmas and absorbed all the advertising on my family's television, enticing me to a buy a television.  I didn't learn anything about televisions, but I did get some retailer brand awareness.  I chatted to family members and friends who had just bought televisions.  I experienced a smart television for the first time, but I still had to put the garbage out and do my own washing.  I thought I knew what I wanted.

I went back to the Sony guy and narrowed it down to three options.  The differentials were based on size, how the WIFI is accessed and 3D.  WIFI was my decider.  Once I knew that, I had no choice about 3D (I'm getting it whether I like it or not).  I was closer to my quarry.  I looked in a few retail stores and either couldn't get the attention of the sales staff or they treated me with contempt when I did get their attention.  Couldn't see myself popping in with a question about the remote control and any of these guys being happy to see me. So I hit the 'net.  I looked at no name Chinese imports with the same specs and a quarter of the price tag.  I looked at home brands.  I looked at refurbished items.  I looked at Sony online and I looked at price comparison sites.  One of them came in with a price $90 less than what my Sony guy was offering and I hadn't started haggling with him yet.

Then I thought about it.  I have a few other electronics purchases to make this year, both personally and for my business.  I've always trusted the Sony brand.  The guy had invested his time in me already and gave the impression he was happy to help.

I had made my decision.  I called to say that I would be in in the afternoon to make the purchase.  I told the guy that his wasn't the absolute cheapest price I could get, but that I had decided I was buying more than a television; I was buying a relationship.  I also wanted to make sure he received recognition for the sale if he wasn't in the store when I went in.

My decision paid off.  My sales guy wasn't there when I went in but the other staff were informed and ready to assist.  A better price was offered - without me even having to ask - and the paperwork completed swiftly.  Delivery was organised for free at a time convenient to me and I got a fantastic deal on a couple of accessories which I had planned to buy later.

This experience made me think about everyone who questions the future of retail.  In the end, I can buy an identical product anywhere, for a variety of prices.  Service and a relationship were the deciders for me.  I am confident that if I have any trouble setting up or down the track that I can call on them for help.  Paying a slightly higher price was worth it for me.

My new neighbour helped me take the old television down for hard rubbish collection.  It's just sitting there - I wonder if anyone will pick it up?  My set top box and DVD player are going to a friend who can use them.  I'm keeping the VCR though.  It may the last one in existence.

I hope I've made the right technological decision and haven't backed something that only three people have, is better, but will be obsolete next week! (See my post about this problem I have.)

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