There was a time not that long ago when buying a TV meant walking into a store, checking out its bells and whistles on the display wall, and making the purchase.
But that was before the explosion of online retail, and the requisite challenges that has brought with it. “It can be a dog’s breakfast shopping for TVs online,” says Meaghan Wilkinson, Director of Marketing for Hisense Canada. “You have your mainstream retailers, but many of them also offer a broader marketplace where third parties can sell older and refurbished products — but on the surface it looks like it is still coming from a retail brand you know and trust. It can make it confusing for consumers to navigate.”
When setting out on your online TV buying excursion, Meaghan suggests a few tips and precautions to make sure you get exactly what you are looking for:
• Know From Whom you are Buying — You may be at the website of a trusted retailer, but are you actually buying something from them? If the product is being sold from a third-party marketplace, there will be a line somewhere in the information that indicates who is actually selling it. Be wary as not all vendors are created equally. They may be selling a foreign model, an older set or even something that is refurbished.
• Do Your Research — Before making the purchase, check out your preferred TV at the manufacturer’s website. Not only is it the best place to get trusted information on that particular TV model, but you will also be able to find out if the TV you chose is the latest Canadian model, an older model being cleared out or even a refurbished set. If you search for the model number on the manufacturer’s site and nothing shows up, chances are you are being sold an old model.
• Are You Protected? — If you are making the purchase from a third-party marketplace vendor, chances are better than good that all manufacturer warranties have either expired or are void (this is especially true if it is a refurbished model). If you get a lemon or have a problem down the line, it is unlikely the retailer will provide the support you get with a full manufacturer’s warranty that comes from buying a current model from a trusted retailer.
• What are Others Saying? — Check out the tech and customer reviews. As you are buying online, you can’t actually see what the picture is like as you could in a bricks-and-mortar store, and there are no sales staff around to answer your questions. Pay close attention to what they say about picture quality and the spectrum of colours. Complaints about a lack of warranty support is a clear indication that consumer purchased an older or refurbished model from a third party.