What You Need to Know When Buying an HDTV from a Brick and Mortar Store
Once you’ve picked the right UHDTV or HDTV for your needs and budget, the next step is picking the retailer.
If you decide to use a brick and mortar store, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise: many rely on third parties to perform delivery and installation functions.
This can be wrought with peril including missed appointments, non-compliance with store policies, incomplete or poor quality installations, and more
Learn the pitfalls, and which national retailers use their own employees to perform their own work, appear after the break.
We checked national retailers Best Buy and Sears, as well as a number regional A/V chains. Best Buy was the only one we found (or would tell us) that they use their own employees to deliver televisions. All other chains we contacted use outside third-party local delivery companies to get the TV from the warehouse to your home.
Why could this be a problem? Over the years HD Guru has accepted delivery of dozens of big screen TVs to test and review. Not all have gone smoothly.
Here’s the scenario: the store/chain contracts with a independent carrier to provide unboxing, inside delivery, and mounting of the TV onto the stand. Sounds simple right?
In reality, the cheapest local sub-contractor is used to deliver the TV and perform the services. The third party contractor will provide the lowest quality service they can, and attempt to offload the labor to the recipient.
In our experience, what typically occurs is the subcontractor shows up with just a driver and expects your tireless writer to assist him. Sometimes, they expect us to single-handedly carry the TV inside, uncrate, attach the pedestal to the TV, and place a 100 pound plus unit on the TV table. On nearly every TV box, it says in clear graphics, not to do any of these things alone.
We’ve had friends and family share this same experience using a “chain” retailer, even though the salesman promised the store’s delivery men will “take care of it all and if desired, take the box and packing material with them to properly dispose.”
If you don’t want to, or are unable to, assist the driver he will leave and tell you to reschedule. If you relent, you get stuck performing the job they were paid for. They’re using YOU for free labor!
Why should the delivery company care? They don’t! They’re not employees of the national or regional chain, they’re self-employed contractors, and the more jobs they can do in a day the more money they can make.
Installations? It’s even worse. If the consumer assumes the delivery/installation person connected the cable box, set-up the Wi-Fi, and performed all needed procedures your TV needs (and you paid for), you may be disappointed. If you’ve never owned a Smart TV, you probably don’t know what’s involved for the set-up. What might occur: the sub-contracted installer says all the work is performed, and you sign for the delivery/set-up. Except, it wasn’t, or wasn’t done correctly.
For example, after the retailer’s sub-contractor leaves the home, the consumer may learn he/she can’t get Netflix because the Wi-Fi set-up was never performed. Or worse, the TV is connected with composite cables, preventing any HD signal from getting to the TV at all. So if the customer notices, then calls the store, they’re told “you signed for the TV and service and acknowledge that the work was performed, therefore we can’t do anything”.
Readers should consider a small local store that performs their own deliveries and installs, known in the industry as a “custom installer.” Price-wise, because of Unilateral Pricing Policy (UPP) enacted by Samsung, LG, Sony and other name-brand TV makers, the price will be same at all authorized retailers (small and large stores, and even online).
An example of a custom installer in the NY metro area is Value Electronics. Robert Zohn, its founder, told HD Guru that their truck drivers and installers are salaried employees, not outside third-party, self-employed contractors. We expect salaried employees to put their boss’s and customers’ interests ahead of their own.
If you want to go big box retailer, or it’s the only place in town, a Best Buy spokesperson told HD Guru that in addition to using their own salaried drivers for TV/audio deliveries, its “Geek Squad” installers are also Best Buy employees not sub-contractors.
If you go with another big box chain, don’t be surprised if you’re dealing with cancellations, incomplete or poor work, and/or incorrect TV set-up.
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