Q. I am shopping for a new TV and I want to get the best deal possible. Do you have any ideas on how to save money while buying a new set? — Lucy, Dallas, Texas.
Lucy, buying a new TV is a big decision and not one to be taken lightly. Depending upon which set you buy — and where you buy it — you might wind up spending hundreds of dollars more than you need to.
So, here are three ideas on how to save money while buying a new television.
1. Don’t Buy an Extended Warranty
For years, electronics stores have boosted their profits by selling extended warranties to TV shoppers, sometimes using fear tactics to make people think their sets will fall apart the day after the manufacturer’s warranty expires.
But nearly every TV set comes with a one-year warranty on parts and a multiple-month warranty on labor. If the set is a lemon — ready to collapse into a thousand pieces with a single touch — you’ll find out shortly after you bring it home. And if that happens, your manufacturer’s warranty will cover any repairs.
Plus, some credit cards will extend a product’s warranty for an extra year for free. Check with your credit card company before buying a store’s extended warranty.
And, finally, TVs, even today’s sleeker flat-screen sets, are built to last. The number of sets that need repairs in the first few years are estimated to be around five percent. That’s not a high number. And, as we just noted, if your set does need a repair in the first year or two, it’s likely it will be covered by your manufacturer’s warranty plus your credit card’s warranty extension.
2. Think Twice Before Buying a Smart TV
Smart TVs are very cool. Most of them include built-in WiFi so you can connect them to your home network and access your favorite streaming sites, such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
But before buying a Smart TV, keep in mind that a comparably-sized non-Smart TV usually costs a few hundred dollars less. When you buy a Smart TV, you pay a premium price for it. Of course, the Internet access is a great reason why, but ask yourself if you already have the capability to access the Net on your TV at home. For example, you may already own a Blu-ray player or gaming console that can access the Internet. If you do, you can simply connect those to your TV and get the same streaming services.
There are some people who believe that a Smart TV offers a better streaming picture than a Smart TV device, such as Play Station 3 or 4 console, or the Blu-ray player. But is the slightly better picture worth an extra $200-300? That’s a question you have to ask yourself.
This same philosophy holds for TVs that come with other add-on features such as 3D, motion control, etc. In most cases, these TVs cost more than other TVs with fewer features. If the add-on features aren’t important to you, don’t pay extra for them.
3. Buy Online
There’s no doubt that you can get better deals online, although I must add that some retail stores are now promising to match an online price if you bring it to their attention. However, because a web site, such as Amazon, doesn’t have the overhead of a retail store, particularly a large retail chain, it can sell many TVs at a significant discount. Sometimes the set will be $300 cheaper or more.
If you are leery of ordering a TV through the mail, some sites offer special guarantees to ensure your set arrives in perfect working order. For example, most sets 50 inches or larger at Amazon come with this “Enhanced Delivery’ guarantee:
“For this TV, we offer enhanced delivery through one of our specialty shippers. A representative of a common carrier will deliver your TV to any room suitable for testing, unpack it, ensure that it is working properly to guarantee no damage occurred during transportation, and dispose of all packaging material.”
And if you have a problem with the set after delivery, Amazon offers 60-day free tech support on most sets.
“If you’ve purchased a television, home audio, tablet PC, coffee maker, projector or wearable technology product from Amazon and received it in the last 60 days, you may quality for free over the phone Tech support,” Amazon says, which also offers a liberal return policy.
Another advantage: Amazon offers free two-day shipping on many televisions while Walmart and Best Buy will allow you to order one online and pick up the set at a neighborhood retail store.
Best Buy also offers free delivery on TVs 51 inches or larger and the retailer’s ‘Geek Squad’ will set it up on the stand and plug it into your pay TV set-top (if you have one.)
So, bottom line: Ordering a TV online is safe and can be less expensive than buying it at your local store.
— Phillip Swann
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