Over the years, I’ve made many purchases that I wouldn’t have made if I’d just tired the item before I bought it. Sometimes the item hasn’t lived up to my expectations (video games that turn out not to be fun or challenging, for example) or it’s had unexpected downsides (the refrigerator that was incredibly loud). Whatever the reason, I kick myself because I know that if I’d just tried it first, I wouldn’t have wasted the money.
In this day and age, there are more ways than ever to actually try a product before you buy it. The bigger the purchase, the more important it is to try it before you plunk down the money. Many retailers are so desperate to compete for your business that they will help you test out even the most cumbersome appliance or tool. Sometimes you have to be brave enough to ask, but if they want your money they’ll find a way to help you. Here are some ways that you can try almost anything before you commit to buying it.
You can rent tools, appliances, video games, movies, and many other things. For a small fee, you can try out the item, see how you like it and then decide whether or not to invest in one of your own.
If someone you know has the movie, game, CD, electronic gizmo, or tool that you’re thinking about getting, see if you can borrow theirs for a few days. Try it out and see if it’s really what you want. (Just be sure to return it in the same condition, or offer to pay for any dings you put in it.)
Join A Group
Sometimes you can join a club or group that will let you try things you’re interested in. I belong to a board gaming group and I get to try a lot of games that other people bring to the table. You may be able to find a movie or video game group or other hobby organization where members will bring in their items and let you try them.
Play With The Demo
Many video games offer demo versions online that you can play and see if you like it. Stores put out demo models of appliance’s, TV’s, computers, etc. so you can play with them and see how they work. If you can find a demo model of your item, by all means play with it. If a demo model isn’t out and you think it would help you decide, ask the store manager if you can take one out of the box and play with it. Many times the manager will agree.
Play/Read The Samples
Many books on Amazon have the “See Inside” feature where you can read the first few pages of the book. If you have a Kindle, you can download a sample for free. In the case of music, Amazon and iTunes have song samples available. You can also listen to songs on YouTube and see clips from TV series/movies. Take advantage of these snippets of a work to see if it’s something you like.
Free Samples/Trial Sizes
Don’t buy the biggest package of a new product. Try a small size, first. If you find someone giving out free samples in the grocery store, try that. You can find samples of perfume in magazines, and sometimes other products like dryer sheets or shampoo. Free samples of other products can also be found if you ask. If you can’t find a free sample, buy a trial size or simply the smallest package you can find. It’s better to buy a small jar of that face cream and discover you hate it than it is to sink the money into a big jar.
Try It On
Even if you’re sure something will fit, try it on anyway. Manufacturers change sizing templates all the time and what fit yesterday may not fit today. If you can, try the item on with others that it will be worn with. For example, if you’re looking for shoes, wear or bring the outfit you’re trying to match with you. You’ll be able to see how the whole thing looks together.
Watch The Videos
Sometimes you can’t find a way to try a product yourself. If you go to YouTube, though, you can probably find a video of someone else using the product and giving a review of all its features. I’ve done this with board games and my most recent cell phone purchase. I watched videos of others playing the game and describing the features of the phone and was satisfied that I would enjoy the real things.
You’d think that test driving a new car would be a given, but I’m always amazed by the number of people who seem to skip this step. Drive it on the highway and on residential roads to see how it handles, how it sounds, and how all the features work. When we bought our RV, the dealer allowed us to camp in it overnight on his lot before we bought it so we could spend time making sure all the appliances and systems worked. If you have the opportunity to put the item through it’s paces, take it.
Plug It In/Turn It On
You’d think that a refrigerator would be a refrigerator, or a dryer would be a dryer. But sometimes these things make a huge racket or emit weird smells. Like I said above, I once got a refrigerator that made so much noise I had to shut the bedroom door at night. It was great in all other areas, but it was too loud. Ask the salesperson if you can plug in the demo model of the appliance before you buy it. You want to turn it on and see how loud it gets. Also, ask if you can try things like vacuum cleaners. You don’t want to be surprised by something that’s too heavy for you to lift, or that doesn’t suck up dirt well.
Visit At Different Times
When house/apartment hunting, you want to visit the place at different times of the day to see how the traffic and noise are, check the sun coming in the windows, and all those other things that can be annoying. You also want to visit on a weekday and a weekend. How does traffic differ? Is parking a problem on the weekend or at night? Are kids running amok every weekend? Try to visit several times over a few days to get a feel for how life really is.
Take Advantage Of A Trial Offer
Sometimes a service provider (like a landscaper or maid) will offer a freebie so you can see how he works. Or you can try larger items like a mattress in your home for a few days/weeks before you commit to the purchase. If you can get a free trial, take advantage of it.
If possible, find some way to try a product or service before you buy it. There is very little that you have to buy totally blind. You can find a way to try almost anything. Trying before you buy can save you a lot of headache and regret later. Not to mention money.
(Photo courtesy of GoonSquadSarah)