Ask Karla: How Can I Avoid Buyer’s Remorse?

Photo (cc) by music2work2

As the recessions lingers, so may a rash of buyer’s remorse.

Research suggests that shoppers have been returning more purchases since 2008, according to Deborah Mitchell, executive director for the Center of Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin. As she told SmartMoney magazine last month, “After the purchase is made, they’re still thinking, ‘Should I have bought that?'”

For reader Carla in South Carolina, it was furniture she now knows she shouldn’t have bought. Two of three pieces essentially fell apart after a few months, and Rooms To Go refused to refund her money till she complained to the Better Business Bureau…

Therefore, do you have any valuable advice for us on our next purchase, what to look for, how to save money on quality furniture, where to go, what to expect, what to say etc…when making the purchase?

Thank you for your time in this matter.

Carla

Whether it’s furniture for $2,000 or electronics for $200, here’s how I avoid regretting big-ticket purchases…

1. Check the fine print

Find return policies and look for restocking fees on store websites before shopping. As SmartMoney reported, stores like Walmart have 90-day return policies. But over at Rooms To Go, the policy is only 48 hours. And if you return certain types of purchases to Best Buy, for example, the restocking fee will cost you 25 percent of the price tag.

2. Ask around

Interrogate friends, relatives, coworkers. Whatever you’re buying, ask about their purchases. Was it worth the price? Would they recommend it? That’s how I learned about Money Talks writer Michael Koretzky’s mixed experience with RTG:

My wife and I bought our first furniture set together shortly after our engagement. Rooms To Go had the best prices – mostly because it also has the cheapest materials and shoddiest build quality. Funny thing about cheap furniture – it’s also the lightest and most portable. Since we knew we’d be looking for a house, we decided it was quite fine.

We bought a couch that immediately started to separate on one side. We also bought a bed. It’s light and has never broken.

The moral of his story? Your best buy depends on how you balance your wants and needs against your budget.

3. Consult the experts

Better Business Bureau: The BBB has been accused of partiality because it receives dues from its member companies, but if you take their ratings with a grain of salt, BBB reviews can be helpful.

To find a company’s review, search the BBB’s site. Here’s Rooms To Go’s review. Note two things: their rating (A+) and the number of closed complaints they’ve had in the past three years (1,573). For comparison, here’s Ashley Furniture. They have an A+ and 177 closed complaints in the same period.

That’s an 89-percent difference, but there are various factors that could explain it (perhaps RTG does 89 percent more business than Ashley, for example). So don’t draw a conclusion based on a BBB review alone: Instead, consider it within the context of the rest of your research about a company.

Independent experts: I check Consumer Reports before buying any type of product they’ve tested. I have an online subscription and recommend it. If you can’t afford the $26/year cost, check for free content. For example, part of their Sofas: How to uncover value guide is free.

CR isn’t the only expert out there, though. If you’re shopping computers, for example, try PC Magazine or Macworld.

Reviews: Whether they’re from experts or John Doe, online reviews can offer invaluable firsthand insight. Just remember that a magazine article holds more weight than UserJohnDoe’s Amazon.com review – which could be fake.

4. Google

Deciding between models? Google [item specifics (i.e., brand/name/model/etc.)] + [“complaints”]. If one model turns up a lot more bad news than the rest, be wary.

Unsure where to shop? Google a store name. When I Googled “Rooms To Go,” the first page of results read:

  1. RoomsToGo.com
  2. RoomsToGoKids.com
  3. RoomsToGoCareers.com
  4. Rooms-To-Go.PissedConsumer.com
  5. ConsumerAffairs.com
  6. Wikipedia.org/wiki/Rooms_To_Go
  7. Yelp.com/biz/Rooms-To-Go-Atlanta-2
  8. Facebook.com/RoomsToGo
  9. LinkedIn.com/company/RoomsToGo
  10. RoadToGreatCareers.com

I expected most of those sites, but No. 4 and 5 concerned me. So then I Googled higher-end furniture stores for comparison. “Ashley Furniture” returned one concern on the first page (Ashley-Furniture.PissedConsumer.com at No. 5), and “Thomasville furniture” and “Ethan Allen furniture” returned none.

Of course, this isn’t scientific. Like BBB reviews, this information should be taken with a grain of salt and considered only in the context of the rest of your research.

The result

It took me about 10 minutes to conclude that Rooms To Go appears better reserved for shoppers who want lightweight furniture, need cheap furniture, or don’t expect high quality for low prices. And if you apply these tips to your big-ticket purchases, you’ll be informed before spending and hopefully remorseless after.

Karla Bowsher runs the Deals page; posts deals every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and shares consumer wisdom every Thursday. If you have a comment, suggestion, or question, leave a comment or email her at [email protected].

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
5 Ways Anyone Can Save on Out-of-Pocket Health Care Costs
5 Ways Anyone Can Save on Out-of-Pocket Health Care Costs

Here’s how to lower your health care costs without skimping on care.

9 Ways to Get Affordable Vet Care
9 Ways to Get Affordable Vet Care

Medical care for your furry friends can be expensive. Here are some tips to get affordable vet care.

Should You Hire a Service to Negotiate Your Cable and Other Bills?
Should You Hire a Service to Negotiate Your Cable and Other Bills?

Services like BillCutterz and BillFixers will negotiate your cable, internet, phone and other monthly bills in exchange for a share of the savings. I tried it: Here’s what happened.

10 Expenses You Should Not Put on a Credit Card
10 Expenses You Should Not Put on a Credit Card

Sometimes it’s simply safer to keep the plastic tucked away.

6 Reasons Hiding Cash at Home Is a Terrible Idea
6 Reasons Hiding Cash at Home Is a Terrible Idea

Stashing cash around the house is anything but harmless.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone
8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors
7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors

These accounts offer exclusive discounts and other perks — including interest — to older customers.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.