The Advantages of Buying From a Brick and Mortar Store Versus the Internet Bohemoth

I’d like to say that the brick and mortar store holds all the cards in the match up against the big box stores and internet clearing houses, but it just isn’t so.  Unlike the internet mavens, the brick and mortar locations have things like real people and real overhead.  Take all that out, and you have one good looking price, but is it the only thing?

Brick and mortar stores are one of my favorite topics because inevitably it comes up when we are talking about price.  Generally, the conversation starts because the customer is concerned that they can buy product X over the internet at so much less than in a real store.  It may be true, but is there more than meets the eye?  I suppose if you plan on doing everything yourself, and you don’t mind accepting responsibility for the entire process, then the deal may be much closer to stopping there.  What happens with all of the unknowns?  For instance, what if the product never comes, what if it’s not what was promised, what if there is a problem with the color, what if there is a problem with the quality, what if there is a problem during installation, what if the flooring gets damaged during installation and you need more, what if you mess it up while you are cleaning it, and the list of questions goes on and on…

I certainly acknowledge that internet mavens have the price advantage, if indeed they are buying the same things, but are they???  It is a funny question, because we as individuals believe the best in everyone.  We automatically assume that the person on the other end of the computer is who he says he is, and the product is what he says it is.  In fact, when it comes in the boxes, and the manufacturer’s label is on the outside, doesn’t that tell you everything you need to know?  Perhaps, but not necessarily.  Do you know the conditions in which it was stored, and what has the flooring been subjected to in a warehouse half a country away?  And what about the phone tech who took your order?  Does he even know what he’s doing, and is he trustworthy with personal financial data?  In the internet society where we buy millions everyday this way, these questions are almost moot…

One thing you cannot get from an internet company that you can from a brick and mortar store is service.  Without a doubt, when you have a problem, you will have an easier time getting support from a brick and mortar store, because you can camp outside with a picket sign if you can’t get resolution to your problem.  Most often, you will find that most brick and mortar companies want to preserve their reputations enough to satisfy all their customers.  Individual reputations in a marketplace are invaluable, and those with poor reputations rarely stick around for more than a year or so.

When completing your installation, if there are problems with the material or the installation, a local company has relationships with the suppliers and installers to hold them accountable, and they can efficiently fix them.  They know who to call, and they have the numbers.  Have you ever tried to get an installer you hired directly to come back and fix something?  If you have, it is a tricky operation because most of the time, they are doing another job that is actually going to get them another check at the end of the week.

The local store is going to provide more control over the material, and it is a place that you can walk into and see.  Products like hardwood are very particular with where they can be stored, and at what temperatures as well.  Who says the internet company is even telling the truth?  Nowadays, there is no shortage of them out there, and they can close and set up shop in a matter of minutes, and you never know it…

I can relate a couple of instances from my own personal inspection experience.  One job I went to look at involved a customer who purchased the wood over the internet to save her money.  She hired an installer based on the recommendations of her condominium maintenance guy.  The installer left her job a mess, she couldn’t get him to come and fix it, and when she called me to inspect it, she had puddles of water sitting on top of the wood from the condensation from the windows.  Was  moisture test even done?  Of course not.  The installer left no expansion spaces and left huge gaps between the wood and subfloor because the floor was not flat enough in its current state to accept a hardwood floor, let alone dry enough.

In another case, a man called to have his floor inspected because he thought the wood was defective.  It wouldn’t go together properly.  Upon arrival, I read the instructions, showed him how to do it, and the floor was fine.  Lastly, and my favorite by far, I received a call about wood from a major internet retailer who actually has brick and mortar stores as well.  They purchased it from the branch store and attempted to glue it down.  The problem was that the glue down method was not a recommended method for their 3/8” solid hardwood product.  Further, when they ordered the product a second time, the branch told them yet again to glue it down, but to use a moisture vapor barrier first, and sold them the wood and glue.  After beginning the second installation, they discovered that the floor was cupping, not only on the floor, but also out of the box.  Well, hmmm.  Defective material combined with defective advice, a deadly combination.  It’s been three weeks with no resolution.  One angry homeowner and a very frazzled contractor trying to finish the home.

The best solution for all the issues above is to hire a local person with a local reputation.  Even when a national company has a branch store, they are not the most knowledgeable, mainly because they have no training.  Find a company with a lengthy history, call the Better Business Bureau, check with the Chamber of Commerce.  I’m sure you will find that once you do your research, you will be much happier with your results….

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One Response to “The Advantages of Buying From a Brick and Mortar Store Versus the Internet Bohemoth”

  1. fort mcmurray Says:

    carpet cleaning…

    The Advantages of Buying From a Brick and Mortar Store Versus the Internet Bohemoth « Carpet One Panama City's Blog…

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