Q. The college basketball tournament is this month and I’m thinking of buying a new TV to watch all the games. But is it safe to buy a TV from a web site? Will it come in one piece, if you know what I mean? — Beverly, Biloxi, Mississippi
Yes, March Madness, the annual college basketball tournament, is less than two weeks and many consumers are planning to buy a new TV to watch all the action.
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Some TV shoppers prefer to buy a TV at a retail store because they think they will get a better deal and/or they fear an online purchase may not arrive without some kind of damage.
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But is that true? Do retail stores offer bigger discounts? And do TVs purchased online often wind up at your doorstep cracked or defective?
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Well, from my years of experience, I believe you can get better deals on TVs online; this is not true on every set, of course, but on many models. Web sites, like retail stores, have partnerships with manufacturers and third-party sellers which enable them to price many sets considerably lower than their counterparts.
In addition, a web site doesn’t have the overhead of a retail store, particularly a large chain. This also helps the site keep prices down.
(One note: Some retail stores will offer ‘same price’ guarantees. If you find a lower price online, the store will match it. For example, Best Buy’s prime match guarantee includes online prices. If you show the lower price on your phone, the store will match it on the spot.)Now on the issue of delivery: Many sites are aware some consumers are leery of ordering a TV through the mail so they offer special guarantees to ensure your set arrives in perfect working order. For example, most sets 50 inches or larger (and other large products) at Amazon come with an ‘”Enhanced Delivery” guarantee:
“When using Free Enhanced Delivery for TVs, the carrier will install the TV on its base (if applicable) and plug in the TV to ensure it’s working,” Amazon states at its site.
Amazon also strongly urges consumers to refuse delivery if the set is not 100 percent If it’s not, Amazon says you should immediately contact Amazon customer service before the delivery man leaves.
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.
Other sites also have generous policies for returns and delivery satisfaction. Best Buy, for example, 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.)
Also worth noting: Walmart and Best Buy allow you to order a set online and pick it up at one of their stores.
I realize some people will always prefer buying in person, and there are advantages to that practice. But ordering a TV online is safe and can be less expensive than buying it at your local store.
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I have purchased my last two TVs from online sites with no difficulties. However, both were purchased from authorized dealers of the brand. I don’t see any difference buying from a local store vs. online if both are authorized dealers. If not, then I would be extra cautious.