Buyers Guide title

Believe it or not, where you buy a machine is actually more important than what machine you are buying. Here's a list of questions that you should be asking your prospective dealer when shopping around.

Are you an AUTHORIZED dealer for xyz brand?

An authorized dealer is your best bet. You'll know that they will be trained to know their machines and can answer all of your questions.

What are your sales policies?

Find out if the dealer has polices that are acceptable to you in regards to exchanges, refunds, and returns. An "All sales final" policy should be a warning sign that you may not want to deal with that store. Try to find one that will let you have at least a week after purchase to make sure that it's the machine that you want and that it works properly. A good dealer will take back any defective machine in that amount of time and do an even exchange or offer to repair it.

What is the procedure for repairs that are under warranty?

Does the store have an in-store repair shop? Are they authorized to do warranty repair work in-store? Do you have to ship it back to the manufacturer yourself? Will they have to ship it back to the manufacturer? Who will pay for damages if they ship it to the manufacturer? How long will it usually take? These questions are an absolute must! If you can't live without your machine for more than a few days, you should really consider purchasing it from a dealer that has in-store repairs. Although you may be paying dealer prices, keep in mind that no amount of money will compensate you for the worry and frustration you may suffer should something go horribly wrong.

Will I be able to special order any part for my machine if you don't usually carry it?

Your dealer should be able to tell you what accessories or parts are available for your machine as well as order them for you. When you absolutely must have that special presser foot, you won't want to be searching for where you can purchase it from.

Do you have a trade up program?

Good dealers will usually have a trade up program because they know that the machine must be able to grow with the person using it.

What kind of guarantees do you give on repairs?

If a dealer has in-store repairs, do they offer a guarantee on their work if it is a non-warranty repair? No guarantee usually indicates poor workmanship. Any craftsman should stand behind their work 100%.

How long have you been in business?

Many people don't seem to ask this question for some reason, but it is an important one. You want to make sure that you are purchasing from an established dealer. Being around a long time usually means that give great service and their customers are satisfied, else they wouldn't be in business!

Do you offer any instructional classes?

Many times, authorized dealers are required by the manufacturers to provide instructional classes on the care and use of their machine. A really good dealer will even answer your questions outside of classes. There is nothing more frustrating than struggling to figure out how your machine works.

There are many more questions that you may think of on your own when "dealer shopping", but these should be at the top of your list. If you are uncomfortable with the answers that you get from the dealer, don't hesitate to find another one. You'll be glad you did.

The above article is © 2003 Janice Nyberg and used by permission.

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