I don’t know about you, but I find nothing more stressful than trying to find the perfect piece of electronic technology to suit my purposes. Sod the “eleventh hour dress for your best friend’s wedding” – getting the right smart phone/smart TV/smart box is the most anxiety inducing activity I can think of: where everything is smart except – seemingly – you!
Oh no, wait, I tell a lie. There is just one more stressful thing than shopping for technology – talking my parents through shopping for technology. My dad is looking for a new phone at the moment. Just kill me now!
Maybe I should refer him to Richard Aster of My Gadget Hound – the personal shoppers with a difference who have kindly contributed this week’s Top Tips Tuesday on how to avoid those tech disasters. Just follow a few simple rules, says Richard, and you can make the right decisions.
My Gadget Hound is a tech personal shopping consultancy and is the only one of its kind in the UK.
1 – Take your time
OK, so time is exactly what you’ve not got a lot of, but there’s not much substitute for putting in the hours when it comes to researching what’s right for you. Apps promise to do all sorts of things, but there isn’t one clever enough to isolate a product that fits all your needs, nor one that can weigh up those vital ‘pro and con’ lists on the review sites.
2 – Get a Which? Subscription
This can pay for itself in no time if you’re a regular purchaser of consumer electronics or household items. Which? runs independent testing and post honest reviews online, but you can only access them in full if you’re a subscriber. Plus its print magazine (included in subscription) is particularly good at laying out all the options on one page, not to mention a good read full of money-saving tips. http://www.techradar.com/ is another good review site you can trust for some electronic items – we read it a lot!
3 – Learn when to stop
While our ‘take your time’ advice holds up to a point, you need to learn where to draw the line. There is always another web review, another good-looking deal on eBay, another banner advert to click on. And new models come out literally every day. Value your time and consider the opportunity cost of your shopping research. What’s an hour of your life worth to you? What do you pay your cleaner or gardener for 10 hours of work? If you’re not saving at least that much money with those extra 10 hours of research, ask yourself if it’s worth it. Or pay a personal shopper…
4 – Keep track
Tech items usually have incredibly boring, unimaginative names. Lots of numbers and letters. They’re never going to stick in your mind. So create bookmark folders for each item you are considering as you go along. Put links to reviews, specs and retail deals in that folder. Otherwise you WILL curse when you can’t remember the name of that cool Samsung UE558000 TV you came across right in the beginning.
5 – Take to Twitter
Companies and retailers are very good at putting reams of text online. They’re terrible at answering an actual tech question only you’ve thought of. That only changes when they’re caught ignoring you in public. So use Twitter – it’s a godsend for consumers. Tweet them relentlessly till you get your answer. Same if your item lets you down and they fob you off with excuses. Don’t be shy – see the recent tweets from @mygadgethound to @nokia for a good example of how to get what you’re owed!
My Gadget Hound is the UK’s only personal shopper for technology. Based in Witney, it offers a worldwide recommendation service via phone or email. It also complains and fights on behalf of consumers whose products let them down.