May 11 2007

Beware Buying Locally

Published by at 11:46 am under General

This is an old article and the information contained within it may be out of date, not reflect my current views and/or contain broken links. If you feel this article is still valid and requires updating, you can use the contact form to let me know. However, I make no guarantee that it will get updated.

Just over a year ago I bought a second hand 50″ Sony rear projection TV from my boss, for the surprisingly low price of £200. I was fairly certain he would have looked after it as he is a bit of a TV buff, so I knew I was bagging a bargain.

Fast forward a year, and two home moves later. I came home one day, switched on the TV and….. nothing! It clicked a couple of times, there was a metallic hissing noise but no picture and no audio. My first thoughts: “Fsck, fsck, fsck”. Having got used to the 50″ TV I know that there was no way I could go back to a small screen but I also knew that if it was terminal I’d be looking at paying over £1000 for a new TV.

My first port of call was Audiovision, a local TV shop that I thought had a fairly good reputation. They were able to come out the next day to take a look at it and only charged a £35 call out fee. This seemed excellent, so I handed over my keys and told them where to find the TV – I couldn’t get out of work to be there, but I trusted them. The guy finally found my house, checked the TV, I got my keys back….. and thats where the good service ended.

It took about a week and a half to finally get a quote out of them for fixing the TV – £350 (approx.). I then had another battle trying to find out from them what was wrong with the TV. I eventually figured out it was something to do with the bulb. £350 seemed a bit steep to me, so a bit of Google-Fu later and I found the best online prices were about £200, so I figure – including labour for fitting it, and local price allowance – £350 wasn’t so awful.

Just as a double check I decided to call the local Sony agents, Sound & Vision. I described the problem and they said it was probably just the bulb and told me how to remove it (1 thumb screw and 2 allen key bolts) – a quick check confirmed this. I got a call back from them the same day with a price for a new bulb: £180 if I fit it myself. How could I refuse? A week and £180 later and my TV is now functioning perfectly again.

What I can’t get over is how a local retailer can justify charging double the price of another local retailer. I really can’t see how they think undoing three bolts, sliding out a box, sliding a new box in and doing up three bolts is worth £150. It took me less than 10 minutes, so by my estimates their labour charges work out at about £900 an hour!

I’ve learnt from this that it pays to look around locally. Not only can you get a better price than online, but you can also find out which retailer really know their stuff. I wont be going back to Audiovision in a hurry.

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