Have you seen the recent public service announcement about not being afraid to ask your doctor questions? A few varieties of them have been circulating around in the form of television commercials, and each of them highlighted a social and/or inquisitive consumer that asked question after question about the product or service they were looking to buy. The scene suddenly cuts to the end of the person’s doctor apparent doctor visit, where the doctor asks, “Any questions?” Seemingly caught off guard, the aforementioned consumer says no or shakes their head. The doctor even asks, “Are you sure?”
The scope of this blog is not about your next doctor visit, but if I piqued your interest about that, you can go here for some questions you can ask. In any event, if you step back and ask a volley of questions before your next major purchase, you will have a much more positive shopping experience that can potentially save you lots of money in the short and long-run as long as you avoid the following shopping mistakes.
1. Failing to ask questions
You don’t have to be completely well-informed before arriving at the store. If fact, you may get a crash course in all brands of the item you are looking for from a knowledgeable salesperson, but you must ask questions! Don’t be afraid to walk away from the salesperson if they are too pushy, rude, or have questionable hygiene.
2. Asking discussion-killing yes-no questions
Don’t ask questions along the lines of “Does this look cute on me?” or “Is this something my mom would use?” questions. Instead, ask questions such as, “How does this product compare with its competitors?” or “Which brands have people had problems with in the past and what were those issues?”
3. Asking too few questions
If you stopped asking questions after your main concern was addressed, you stopped too soon. Keep asking questions. Make them up if you have to. You are digging for information.
4. Not asking yourself questions
You don’t have to be introverted to make a decision about a major purchase, but you should clarify your purpose and prioritize your needs. Purchasing unnecessary features or accessories is a waste of money. Familiarize yourself with the features or accessories that go with the major purchase, then ask yourself, “What do I need this item to do? What is my budget? Which features are necessities? What are wish-list features worth to me?”
5. Not doing any research
A non-informed shopper is an impulsive shopper, and vulnerable to a salesperson whose only concern is making the sale.
6. Paying for improved or new technology
I was not in line at the Apple Store on the day of iPad’s launch, when 120,000 units were pre-sold. The day it becomes available, a barrage of “Unboxing the iPad” and “I got my iPad” videos will pop up on YouTube. You may have earned bragging rights for being the first of your friends to have an iPad, but was it worth it?
7. Neglecting to read or understand warranties
Read the coverage that comes with the vendor’s or manufacturer’s warranty so that you can avoid purchasing unnecessary service contracts or extended warranties.
8. Sticking to one brand
Is it worth buying the brand that was the cheapest when you were a child but has, in your adult years, become the most expensive? Don’t be blinded by brand loyalty.
9. Not considering the value of service
If you come across hi-definition television that is the same price at two different stores but only one offers free delivery, which store would you choose?
10. Relaxing your judgment while traveling
Places with high tourist traffic sell overpriced merchandise. You will most likely spend a lot less if you can wait until you come back home to make the purchase.
Remember, as a consumer, you have the right to do your research, ask questions, refuse unnecessary warranties, and try new brands. If you keep the items in mind, you will avoid the most common shopping mistakes the less informed or less inquisitive consumer makes. Shop with confidence!