How to Shop for Technology

Do-It-Yourself Tech

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) discusses the best way to shop for technology: buy from Costco or Sam’s Club. Their return policies allow consumers to return anything at any time. The one exception, due to abuse, is personal computers. After too many computers were being returned five years later (wow!), both stores put the limit for personal computers at six months. But is it only a matter of time before the abuse spreads to flat-panel TVs and digital cameras?

Many consumers are beginning to use this as an excuse to try before they buy (except that, technically, they’ve already “bought”). Seeing a TV setup in the store and seeing it in your living room may be very different, especially when high definition technology gets thrown into the mix. Buyers often don’t know how to configure TVs to perform at optimal capacity as they do in store.

Also, extended warranties have become a new revenue stream for the Best Buys and Circuit Cities. But a store like Costco can’t take advantage of this particluar “up sell” when its existing policy makes any thought of an extended warranty silly.

Now, not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with consumers taking advantage of a store’s gracious policy like consumers tend to do. But with the headaches involved, financial analysts continue to put pressure on theses companies to change for the better. But this may be one case where “better” may be no change at all, at least from the standpoint of the consumer…

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