Internet vs. Local
Internet vs. Local

A/V Company Proves to Clients: You Can’t Get a Better Deal Online
Reprint from CEPro By Julie Jacobson 12.22.08

With a client listening in, Audio Video Planners called the Internet vendors who apparently had the best prices on big-screen TVs and Blu-ray players. They didn't.

12.22.2008 — Think you can get a "much better deal" buying a TV online versus the local A/V guy? One "local A/V guy," David Ault of Oakdale, Minn.-based Audio Video Planners says no way. He went to prove it when a customer balked at a few audio/video line items on an AVP proposal. The client balked at the few-hundred extra dollars AVP was charging for gear that was available online for "way cheaper."

With the client listening in, Ault called the online vendors to "buy" the products listed. Ault prepared a transcript of his conversation with the vendors, which he shared with CE Pro. These conversations (not verbatim) took place on March 29, 2008, regarding a 65-inch plasma TV. Needless to say, after listening in, the client scrapped plans to try to save a few extra bucks, and bought his gear from AVP.

Conversations with the Internet Vendors

Internet Vendor 1 (eBay power seller)

AVP: Do you have this TV in stock?

Vendor 1: Back-ordered

AVP: What should I do?

Vendor 1: Call back daily until we have one.

AVP: How much would shipping be for the TV?

Vendor 1: $325 for "basic shipping" once we can get one.

AVP: What is "basic shipping?"

Vendor 1: A semi truck, not a lift gate truck.

AVP: So, that means that I have to help get a 65-inch plasma off of a semi trailer?

Vendor 1: Yes sir. Residential trucks are more than the $325 quoted on our site.

AVP: What if there is a problem or the TV is broken? Or, worse yet, what if there are pixels out on the TV? Panasonic claims that up to four pixels can be burned out in their warranty information. Who will check this for me?

Vendor 1: You must do that while the driver is still on site.

AVP: What! In my driveway?

Vendor 1: Yes sir. The driver will wait.

AVP: So, what if I don’t test the TV until I can get it into my house?

Vendor 1: Then you repackage the TV and pay the shipping back if a problem is found.

AVP: What about a replacement TV?

Vendor 1: Sir, you pay ALL shipping expenses as our terms state.

AVP: Even for a replacement?

Vendor 1: Yes sir. We might be able to give you a $100 discount if you need a replacement.

AVP: So…I would pay to ship the TV here, ship the TV back, and then pay to ship the replacement TV here – all with lift gate trucks? I may be looking at as much as $1,500 in shipping fees?

Vendor 1: That is a possibility. It is a heavy and large TV.

AVP: Thanks, but no thanks.

Internet Vendor 2

We called the second Internet vendor and asked if the TV was in stock. We were put on hold for 15 minutes, literally. Finally, the vendor came back on the line to say, "We’re out," and hung up on us without even providing an estimated time to restock.

Internet Vendor 3

AVP: Do you have this TV in stock?

Vendor 3: We shipped one yesterday!

AVP: Do you have another in stock?

Vendor 3: I'm not sure. Give me your credit card number and we will only charge it if we can get you the TV.

AVP: Do you stock the Sony Blu-ray player?

Vendor 3: No problem!

AVP: Great! Have you done the latest firmware update?

Vendor 3: Huh?

AVP: You know, the Sony download that is required to play one third of the newest Blu-ray discs?

Vendor 3: I don’t know.

AVP: Do you know that in every Sony Blu-ray player box it says that you need to do this firmware update for any player to operate correctly?

And here is the wisdom that Soundwaves imparts to other consumers who are tempted to shop for A/V online:

Is there an Internet company with all of the answers that can supply you everything without a snag, at the price they quote? Yes, somewhere, somehow with careful investigation and much of your time you may be able to find such a company. The questions are: do you want to purchase $10,000 in electronics from the internet and not know where the company offices, how long they’ve been in business, or how they resolve problems?

Are you comfortable that you know all of the right questions to ask the
Internet vendor?

And, are you comfortable knowing that with the Internet, there is always some possibility that you might not get what you thought you were getting?

At Soundwaves, we are excited about being able to work on projects that we have carefully planned. We take care of the details and make sure that everything works properly. We live our company motto: Making Electronics Simple.

We are also willing to work with you on any of your questions and do whatever it takes to make sure your electronics project is fair, honest, and in your best interest. We need raving fans for our company and we work from referrals.