How safe is it to buy electronic home appliances online?
Like me, you too won’t take any risk when buying home appliances for the family. After all, it matters a lot – they are costly, and you do not want your family to be cheated. Let me tell you a little incident that happened to me. This crazy incident changed my outlook towards buying home appliances online.
It was summer of 2015. (No time to read – jump to the question – Is it safe to buy electronic home appliances online?)
The weather was getting warmer day by day. So I finally decided to buy an Air Conditioner.
I researched online, spoke to my friends, colleagues and family members who already owned an air conditioner. Basis my research and suggestions from people I know, I decided to buy a Hitachi air conditioner.
I checked prices on Flipkart, Amazon and other online shopping sites. One ton model I wanted to buy was available for INR 26000 at the time. I checked local shops – lowest price for the same model was 31000!!!! WTF!!!!
I didn’t have that much of an experience from online shopping.
Naturally, I had many doubts about buying a home appliance, that too AC from an online shop.
Doubts and queries I had were –
- Why is it cheaper? (Yes, if it is very much cheaper than the local shop then you start doubting the cheap cost)
- Will it be original and new?
- Will it be covered under company warranty?
- Will it be delivered to my small town?
- How much time will the delivery take, what will be the delivery charge?
- Who will install the AC, what will be installation cost?
- What if it is a defective product, where and how will I return such a heavy appliance?
- Whom do I call if I face any issues?
I was overwhelmed! So many questions!!! I decided that I will pay extra money but buy it from a local shop.
That was a smart decision, spending extra money for complete peace of mind.
That’s what I thought. Unfortunately, to my surprise, that turned out to be a wrong decision.
AC was installed, but very less cooling. I called my friends who had AC and some knowledge. My room was small enough for a one tonne AC. They confirmed cooling was not at all proper. I tried the lowest temperature, played with different settings, reset the AC, tried a new voltage stabilizer, but everything was in vain.
I called up the local dealer the next day. He said it was no longer his responsibility. He sold the AC, that’s it. No ethics, no return policy, no support.
I chased Hitachi, the tech visited next day and opened up the AC. He was shocked – he said there was hardly any “gas” in the compressor. This means AC was a used one. Sold to me at price of a new AC.
I went to the dealer again to share the findings; he had no manners, customer service skills or ethics. He was rude and took no responsibility. I had already paid him in full, and there was no way he was going to return my money. He didn’t even care about bad reputation! The strategy was simple – talk sweetly before the sale, forget morality after the sale.
That is what the problem is with a typical local shop. Customers don’t mind paying a higher price for peace of mind, but we get cheated instead.
After two weeks, my brother decided to buy an AC for his room. Copycat.
This time, I suggested to buy the same AC but from Flipkart for a cheaper cost. The experience was super smooth – to my surprise. Flipkart asked for a convenient date and time for installation – we chose Saturday morning. Friday evening we got a reminder SMS that installation guy was coming next day. And he arrived on time.
Everything was installed, and AC was ready to go. And wow, it was way cooler than my AC even after gas replacement. Flipkart followed up to ask me for a rating if I was satisfied!!! And that local dealer, in comparison forgot me the moment I paid him in cash.
From then on…
I have purchased almost every new appliance online for my family and friends. And no issues what so ever apart from one. A Philips shaver I bought was defective and was promptly replaced – no hassles.
Is it safe buying large electronic home appliances (Refrigerators, TV’s) online?
Yes, a big YES!
It is safe to buy electronic home appliances online. Be it a small home appliance or large home appliance. It is absolutely risk-free to purchase them online.
Ironical to popular misconception, it may be safer to buy home appliances online compared to buying from a shady local dealer.
Online shops want to maintain a good reputation as lakhs of customers buy from them. Bad feedback would mean the loss of these customers and a considerable loss of their business. Local dealers don’t care because there is no place where all their customers would share experiences. They don’t have a customer satisfaction rating board, or every other dealer would have one star out of 5.
With online shops, people share their feedback on social media. Take the example of snapdeal; they got terrible publicity after few customers got soap bars when they ordered mobile phones. Now the website is struggling to survive.
To conclude, it is safe to buy home appliances online as long as the website is trusted.
How does warranty and after sales services work for products purchased online?
Warranty and after sales services are the same as a product purchased from a local shop. Few companies don’t even ask for the bill when you approach them with warranty claims, they have serial number based warranty. Others may ask for your Amazon bill.
I would recommend you to do three things that will simplify your life and reduce unnecessary stress:
- Keep your Amazon/ Flipkart bill safe. I would recommend that you maintain a file with all the bills.
- Take a photo of the bill with your mobile phone’s camera. Not a selfie with the bill OK, a normal photo. I would recommend using Office Lens a free app designed to scan documents using phone’s camera.
- Register the product on company’s website. Here’s a list of popular brands and their customer support websites.
As a matter of fact, I would still recommend you to take above three steps even if you buy products from a local shop. Tip# 1 of maintaining a file with all the bills is what even my grandfather used to do, so that’s an age old practice and has lots of time saving, stress reducing benefits.
Which are the trusted websites to buy home appliances online?
????Amazon & ????Flipkart. Those are the two e-commerce websites I trust for almost everything. Only for clothes, I prefer Myntra and Jabong.
An important point to note here is…
Amazon, Flipkart, eBay, Jabong, Myntra, etc… are e-commerce platforms. These sites are open to anyone who would like to sell their products online. If you, have a product that you want to sell – you can sell it on these websites too.
So can a cheat seller sell his products too?
Absolutely yes, but not for a long time. When customers start complaining about cheating/ too many defective products, websites like Amazon or Flipkart ban the seller.
What if you get a defective product from a cheat seller?
Amazon, Flipkart both have an excellent return/ refund/ replacement policy. You can easily contact their customer care via phone, chat or email and they will give you a refund or a replacement depending on the product. Remember to check the return policy before buying a product.
- It is preferable that the product page has “F Assured” logo, it means Flipkart staff has quality checked the product and found it to be genuine and fully functional. Also, check the number of reviews the product has received and the average rating.
- Check replacement policy – it usually is around ten days.
- Check seller’s rating; preferably it should at least be 3.8 or higher. Note that it is the rating of the seller and not the product.
- Prefer Amazon-fulfilled products for faster delivery.
- Check seller rating. Seller in this example has a rating of 4.6 out of 5, and 11287 customers have rated so far. Anything above 3.8 is good.
Amazon has a standard 10-day refund policy on home appliances. Note that Amazon offers a refund of the money you paid and not a replacement.
Why is the price so much cheaper on Amazon/ Flipkart?
Most of the sellers from online shops only have to pay Amazon/ Flipkart a small amount of fee to keep their appliances in their warehouses.
Online shops save a lot of money this way –
- No huge rents for godowns/ warehouses – they pay Amazon/ Flipkart a small fee to keep their products. This fee is as per the space appliance takes. So sellers don’t have to rent the entire warehouse.
- No middlemen, sellers buy directly from brands – LG/Samsung/IFB, etc…
- No showroom rent/ electricity bills to pay. Fully airconditioned showrooms incur huge electricity bills so they cannot afford to sell products with low-profit margin.
- No salaries to pay to salesmen.
Competition with other online shops drives prices lower. And they still make profits because they are already saving so much of money.
Conclusion – Should you buy electronic home appliances online?
Yes, why not? I found all the good reasons supporting convenience, safety, and trust when buying from reputed online shops like Amazon & Flipkart.
Buying online from reputed shops is much safer compared to a local shop. I am not saying all local shops are bad.
There are good exceptions. But they cannot offer lower prices as they have to pay for showroom costs, huge electricity bills, salaries of salesmen, etc..
What I also love about online shops is good customer service, return policy and rating system to know how good is the seller and the product. Moreover, the appliance is delivered and installed as per our convenience.
Warranty and after sales service are equally covered too.
Win-Win situation all over!