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Saturday, February 12, 2011

I Splurged

Been needing to upgrade our TV for a long while now. I was going to do it last Christmas, and it didn't happen. I was going to do it this Christmas, and it didn't happen. Our 9 year old plasma TV has had a couple of lines in the display for at least 2 years now. There aren't enough HDMI ports to add a Blu-Ray player. We actually have Blu-ray movies that we can't watch!

I got together with a geeky friend who is very handy with the electronics and such and we went went shopping. He knows what all those abbreviations and acronyms stand for! We met at Fry's this morning. There is one word to describe walking through the big screen TV department at Fry's: overwhelming. The TVs are all lined up playing movie clips and demo reels. The problem is, a Samsung demo might be playing on an LG TV and that is confuzzling to me. The signs in front of the TVs tell you very little, mostly just the size and price and whether the TV is LCD, LED or plasma. It's impossible to compare without a sales clerk, and I don't trust them. After all, they're trying to sell me something!

One thing I was adamant about is the screen. I hate the shiny glass. I hate seeing reflections on the screen. It distracts me from the picture. My family room has a lot of windows, and the overhead kitchen lights are also directly behind us when we are watching. That helped me narrow the choices of TVs that I would consider, but then it was time to compare the features, which, like I said, we couldn't do without assistance.

That assistance came in the form of a 400 pound schmoozy clerk that simply rubbed me the wrong way. He even tried talking Trek Theme Songs with me when he heard my ringtone when my phone rang. Ugh. Then when I asked a few questions about processor speed and features I got some lame analogy about Mustang V-6 vs. V-8. I wanted to kick him.

I was looking at 2 TVs, side-by-side, one $500 more than the other. I asked him what $500 got me on one that the other didn't have. The answer was, "The sign in front of that TV is wrong. That's not the real price." WTH? "Well, what is the price? What does this TV have?" I inquired.  Turns out, this was THE TV for me! Then Mr. Salesman tells me I can't have it! "We don't have that one in stock." Obvious reply, "Can you get one?" was followed by the inevitable, "No, the only store that has one is in Arizona." "Can they ship it to me?" "No it's too far to ship it." "Can you sell me this one?" "No, I don't have authorization for that. We might get more from the manufacturer, but we don't know that yet.""Can you find me a similar TV?" "There isn't any." I'm now tiring of this volley, so my final response turned out to be, "I'm going to Costco."  One hour wasted.

Our beloved Costco is closed. They are tearing the whole thing down and rebuilding it, bigger and better and with a gas station. For the next year we have to suffer shopping in an unfamiliar Costco. There's another story there...the kosher pickle story...but we'll skip it for now. We trekked to a Costco that I had been to only once before. It's far from my house, and everything is in a different place, and I don't recognize the cashiers, and it's like shopping in a foreign country!! (Breathe, mom) OK...I breathed... I'm OK, now....

There are few choices compared to Fry's but one HUGE difference. There are boxes of TVs just under the displayed ones. One the boxes you can see everything you need to know to compare one TV to the next: dimensions, screen size, processor speed, special features, etc. We spent another hour trying to find MY TV.  Evidently, it really doesn't exist. I finally conceded on the shiny screen part. I asked my pal, "Do I just need to get over it?" and he said, "I think you do."  First compromise made. I'm obviously getting tired of shopping for something I know nothing about. I may as well be buying a helicopter.

Long story, made only slightly shorter, I got a humongous TV with a speedy processor, WiFi, Bluetooth, HD internet apps...yada yada...and a frakking shiny screen. It's not LED, which is what I thought I wanted, it's fully array LCD HDTV, whatever that is. All I know is the picture quality was gorgeous in the store. One more's has 3D. I know, I know, that's so lame. I really was not going to buy this TV because I did not want to pay for a feature that I thought was stupid and I really didn't want, but you know what? You don't have to use the feature, and almost all the TVs there had 3D! The ones that didn't were missing other features I really did want.

I was sick of shopping for this crazy electronic tech, so I pretty much just rolled over and let Costco win. I told my pal to load it up, find me Blu-ray and get me out of there.

If you know me, you know I shop by Ferengi Rule of Acquision #141 (Only fools pay retail). Even though this TV is a bit of overkill, and pretty pricey, I still managed to come out OK. Here's how: 
1st: The Blu-ray player I chose had a $90 instant rebate which gave me more bang for my buck than a cheaper player with less features.
2nd: By buying at Costco, my warranty is automatically doubled and I get free technical support if needed, and I have 90 days to return it if I decide this isn't the TV for me. (I also had no annoying sales person pressuring me)
3rd: I earn 1% rebate on my Costco membership and 1% on my Costco American Express card.
4th: This one is big: I just received my Costco American Express rebate voucher in the mail last week. It was HUGE--$615!! I mulled over in my mind at least 6 ways I could spend that money, including putting it in my convention fund and  buying an iPad (decided to wait for the next generation). I turned it over to the cashier and saw $615 come off my TV. I think that made it a damn good deal.

i get to look at this ridiculously huge box for a week
My geek pal is going to come over next Saturday and install this monster. I'll be happy when it's all over. I love my Treknology, but I just want it to materialize and WORK. I don't like researching, self-educating, shopping and installing it. I'm hoping the shiny screen won't bother me as much as I think it will, but if it does, I know I can return it for the full amount, including my rebate money. I'll probably just make myself love it though, because the thought of TV shopping again gives me a rash.

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