Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Avoid Getting Ripped Off: Buying High Ticket Items

I married my long time love interest on August 2nd. We've been through a lot together and in a lot of ways we're already like an old couple. While we just got married we had been living together for years and before that we were in a relationship pretty much since early 2000. The word marriage wasn't so much important to us as the benefits of being married. We're both very nonreligious people, but the legal system is designed to protect those who share a union. Since she is now a federal employee and receives significantly better health coverage than yesteryears and I'm technically an independent contractor it was the only logical decision. So we had a tiny super cheap wedding.

The one thing that we decided to spend an appreciable amount of money on were our wedding rings. Being a salesman in a former life and having dealt first hand with a number of overly pushy commission based retailers, we weren't exactly looking forward to shopping. Picking them out, yes. We loved that part. But we loathed dealing with the phony in your face sales sharks who simply saw dollar signs.

We went into the situation with a mindset that we were not going to be ripped off. Believe it or not, we actually drew up a list beforehand to help us in our shopping excursion. These tips should work for any high ticket item, be it a computer, car or wedding ring.

  • Don't deal with sales people (at first): Yes, they're there to help you. But they also have their own bills to pay and their own agenda. Any advice they give you might be tainted with their own best interests in mind instead of yours. So research the field you're looking to buy into. Utilize the internet to narrow your selection and needs down to a general price range that you find acceptable.

  • Command respect: Don't let them do all of the talking. When you are finally ready to engage a sales person, do just that. Engage them in conversation. Ask intelligent questions as to the nature of the product you're thinking about buying. Make them explain themselves if they're not entirely clear. If you appear docile and meek you might just find yourself in the hands of something who thinks you're an easy paycheck.

  • Dress right: And by this I do not mean "dress for success." If you look like you're capable of dropping a lot of dough, you're likely going to give the sales clerk that image as a first impression.

    So leave your expensive inherited gold watch, Coach purse, fancy leather jacket and other assorted bling at home. If you have one, put your wedding ring in your pocket. These are all things sales people immediately key in on.

    Dress decent, but over all pretty casual. Like you were going to a movie with a couple of friends.

  • Bring a partner: Whether you bring your significant other or a friend, two heads are better than one. You'll have someone not directly invested in the purchase to bounce logical ideas off of. You'll also have someone to remain an outsider in case you start to be drawn into a sale that you may regret later.

  • Don't talk to your partner (too much): Whether you're shopping with your boyfriend, wife or best friend don't talk to them too much while the sales associate is hovering around you. Make sure you're both crystal clear on this subject. The last thing you want is your wife saying "You should get it, you know you want it." in front of an already pushy commission shark. You'll find yourself pressured from two sides, instead of just one.

    Instead politely excuse yourselves to discuss the issue at a nice distance.

  • Be wary of expiring offers: Be careful associates informing you that "this bracelet is the last one we have.." or that "this sale is for this afternoon only." It's a common tactic to introduce time limits on things. It encourages impulse buys. Which is not what you want to do with a high ticket item. Take advantage of them, but don't do so simply because of the fact.

  • Don't be scared to walk away: Arguably the most powerful tool in your arsenal. Competition breeds low prices. We all know that a monopoly (the economic situation, not the board game) is a bad thing. Regardless of the item, you can probably find it elsewhere cheaper. The only thing that differs is the effort put into the search.

    So if a sales person is pressuring you to make a decision before you've had time to logically think out the pros and the cons of the price, politely thank them and go catch a cup of coffee. The sales associate will know you're capable of walking out on an offer and you'll have time to logically think out the situation on your own terms. If you decide to go back both parties will be aware of just how far the other is capable of going.
This is not a catch all, but instead a general outline with a couple of things that can keep you protected. So long as you remain smart and don't allow yourself to be manipulated you'll be able to get your high ticket item at a fair price well within your budget.


joan said...

the last time I bought a computer the salesman acted like I was a piece of meat. it was disgusting. they say best buy doesn't have sales commission but they have to. the guy acted like if he didn't sell me something expensive hed loose his shirt

Kyle said...

I personally have never had somebody from Best Buy give me any sort of pressure, even when asking him some questions and appearing interesting in an object.

But then, maybe I just got lucky.


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