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  • Writer's pictureMartin van Zeelandt / TCD

Research Before Purchase, Why Is It Important?

It is always important to do your research, if you are planning on purchasing an item online. Or even when you are going to purchase it in a physical store. But whatever you do, make sure you check the internet first. The internet is a beacon of knowledge, and millions of pages are available for you, to get the finest deals.

Due to COVID-19 many of us have to work from home, and I thought it would be a great idea to buy a desk. The old desk I had become obsolete, due to the wife also working from home, and in need of a desk. She got my 'old' desk, and I need a new one. I went to Amazon, seeing as they always deliver very quickly, and for free, and found a desk. It had some good reviews, but before delving too deep into the reviews, I purchased an L shaped desk. It looked nice. It did. But was it any good?

Nope, it certainly wasn't. What a huge disappointment. I have set it up, and it felt flimsy from the first time I sat behind it. My God, what a let down of a purchase. It was cheap, I'll tell you that. But I was expecting a bit more. And it didn't deliver. The quality was poor. The only good thing was the actual putting together. All the parts came, and the instructions were clear. But I've sat behind the desk for a couple of weeks now, and have got several bruises and scratches. And it's certainly not ergonomically beneficial for me: someone who's got lower back issues, and multiple pins in his right shoulder.

The moral of this story? Don't buy because it looks good, and is cheap. Don't get me wrong: sometimes you can be lucky, and a purchase is actually good. I've had product from all over the world being sent to me, for not a lot of money (because why go expensive for a simplistic item), and they've been good to me. But if you are going to use it on a daily basis, you need quality. This involves investigation. Some research is to be done.

So what do you need? Certainly not a laptop. You do need any form of availability of getting onto the internet, be it via a laptop, a PC/Mac, your mobile phone, a tablet, or whatever device you use. And a piece of paper, and something to write on it. A pen or pencil, whatever floats your boat. If you want to use a pen and ink, that's fine by me. And you need time. A lot of time. Don't make any hasty decisions. Those types of decisions always result in headaches, and you won't feel good after.

As an example of a headache decision caused by a hasty decision: you might purchase an item for a nice price, but after purchasing it, you find it cheaper somewhere else. That's the worst. And how many of us do actually cancel the order? I don't think I've ever cancelled an order, or even returned it.

Use the internet! Do it! As I said, it's our beacon of knowledge, and it can give us all the answers we need. Let's take my own issue I've got right now as an example: a new desk. I won't name any companies, but if you search online, you will find the names quickly.

I need a new desk. A sturdy one. And one that suits me. I'm long in size, and have got long legs, so I need space to put my legs underneath the desk. Before you start to get excited, measure yourself. Put your chair in the most comfortable position, and let someone else measure your knee heights, and width. You don't want to sit behind a desk, with your legs crammed into a narrow space. Or even worst: a desk which constantly touches the armrests of your chair. Or when you get up to leave, and one of the rests gets stuck, and the second you get back into position, the desk nearly gets catapulted into the Earth's orbit. That's a horrible feeling.

OK, you've got your dimensions written down, what's next? Colour! And desk size. But firstly, colour. What colour are you going for? What matches the rest of your interior? Is your room dark purple? If so, you don't want a light colour. Or maybe you do, to break the dark pattern. It's all up to you. But make sure you get a colour in your head, or at least a range of colours that might work. Next is the size of your desk, and its shape.

I never knew you had multiple choice in regards to desks. Waved, rectangular, with or without storage, standing desks, there are so many options available. So make sure you are writing down the options you do need. Is the desk going to be in a corner, or in the middle of your room? Location, location, location!

Next is the big step: you are entering the internet. Don't just click on the first link you see after you typed in a few keywords, like 'L shaped desk brown', as an example. Maybe click on a few, and have a few tabs open. Just browse through each page, and absorb the information provided. Let it all sink in what the world has to offer. And if you have the time, why not let Google show you more pages, with more options/pages available? Come on, be a bit bonkers, and absorb it all!

When you have searched at least 10 pages, make yourself a nice cup of tea, just to relax. Don't forget to breathe, and don't overdo it. When you feel there's too much pressure on your shoulders, turn your PC off, and chill. Unless there's too much pressure from family or friends to order a part, in which case you can refer to this blog and the following phrase you can use: "do it your freaking self!!!"

After the nice cuppa, you get back to work. In this case you have checked several websites, and seen some nice desks. Some rather nice. Wouldn't be amiss among your furniture. But wait! You are being too hasty.

Has the website got all the markings of being a good website? Has it got the right boxes ticked? Does your anti virus show it as being a good site? Now comes the hard bit: searching online for reviews of the company. That is what you do prior to checking the reviews of the desk itself. The company should be legitimate, and should be trusted. Make sure it's got good reviews. If it portraits itself as a company that been around for many years, yet has only 1 review online, be cautious.

You have to be cautious. There are plenty of internet trolls out there, and also people who place fake reviews, paid to do so. It's a tricky situation: how to distinguish the fakes from the real reviews? With that I sadly can't help you with: you need to learn to 'read' the reviews. Some are so obviously lying, that it's just not feasible to order or continue to look at this specific manufacturer. But it's something you can only learn, when you have fallen in the trap yourself, like I have in the past. Read the most recent reviews, and check if they sound valid. If a customer complaints about the fact that he/she ordered a rectangular desk yet got a waved desk, that's clearly not a manufacturing defect, but an order process issue. If you read multiple of these, then there's clearly something wrong. But if it's only one review, don't worry: as long as all the others are okay.

Also check the reviews in regards to the customer service. You can find all the reviews on multiple platform, and sometimes even on the buying page itself, like on Amazon. Customer Service is important, if there's an issue that needs to be resolved, be it a good or bad one. Product might be good, but if you cannot return the item without the help desk being a complete pain in the rectum and charging you, you might need to reconsider.

And when you think you are there yet, you are not! The page you are on might offer it for a certain price, but definitely check elsewhere for the same item: you might get a discount at other sellers. Sometimes even free delivery. But you will only find that out if you do your research.

Every situation is different, obviously, and you have done your checks. But when do you need the part? Do you need it NOW, or in a couple of weeks? Due to COVID-19 certain items might take longer to be delivered, some even in August or September. I couldn't wait that long, so I found a supplier of desks, and asked them via their online chat for availability and delivery times. In this specific case the service agent was very nice, checked stock, and also checked how quickly it could be delivered. Always, and I do mean ALWAYS, be nice to them, as I've been one of those agents before, and I do know the pressure they have to endure on a daily basis. They might sell thousands of items, and a handful are faulty, but the abuse they get on the phone or via social media or online chat platforms is just beyond belief. Don't think that you screaming or swearing down the phone will help you get things sorted quicker. You can express your unhappiness in a different way, but always be polite; they don't manufacturer the item, or are in charge of delivery, or anything, other than picking up the phone, and answering your enquiry. Nothing more. So be nice.

Make sure you've got money in the bank, otherwise you might look a bit foolish. And when payment is accepted, make sure you get an order confirmation. The other day I ordered a desk from a huge supplier, paid, and never received an order confirmation. It turns out they have an issue with this, and advised the customers to try to reorder at a later time, off peak. But after reading the comments on social media, the company still has issues with this. The money is still pending towards them, and hopefully I will retrieve my money as soon as possible.

Customer Service is important, but your own investigation is also important. Do your homework, and everything goes smoother. Try it, and you will succeed. I have now ordered a new and sturdier desk, which will come next Monday/Tuesday. Knowing myself I will probably write a review about the new desk, and will let you know if it's any good. But from thinking 'I need a new desk' to the moment I started writing this blog post, it must have been a good three days of investigating all the options available.

What I'm trying to say is, never assume. Every legitimate company out there will do their best to please the customers. But there are fraudulent companies out there, who will try to squeeze every penny out of your pocket. They are aggressive and sometimes they lurk among the big companies, pretend to be something they are certainly not. Be careful.

It also depends on the product you want to purchase, how long you need to investigate your options. If you are standing in the supermarket and want to decide which type of bananas you want, you don't need days. Maybe a few more seconds, to check if it has all the good seals of approval. Don't buy dodgy bananas. You won't buy bananas which have turned black, would you? So why not check the label and see if the farmers get the money they deserve? Fair trade is important.

If you want to purchase an expensive mobile phone, don't follow the trend. Look deep inside yourself, and see what you need it for. Do you take a lot of pictures and want good quality? Maybe you need a phone with a good camera setup. Or are you more on social media, but don't care about images? Maybe one phone with a better chip set, which makes it run smoother, and quicker. Or, in worst case scenario, you want a specific IOS. Check every option out there. You don't want to purchase an item which looses the interest factor in just a few days, do you? You want to look at your phone in months from point of purchase, and look at it in awe, still happy with the purchase. And make sure you can afford the monthly bill.

I hope this blog post was any good in informing you in what you should do and shouldn't do when you want to purchase an item. Stop and think, and research. It might give you better options, save you a few pounds/euros/dollars, and saves you from having headaches and high blood pressure.

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Ps. this is not my credit card. Don't think I'm that silly!

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