open and shut case for buying blinds online
number of home improvement purchases made on web
TO THE STAR
bought my first batch of window blinds from a big-name franchise more than 10
years ago. The experience left me with the same feeling I got after wandering
into the back alley of a Jamaican street market, where I met a loud huckster extremely eager
to sell me a hand-carved mahogany horse.
My visit to the blinds store began with a price quote
that seemed outrageous and I said so. "But," as I was quickly
informed by the smiling salesman, "this is your lucky day, Mr. Maxwell. My
manager is about to submit a large order. If you give me your credit card
within the next 20 minutes, we'll knock off 20 per cent."
few minutes later – the price still seeming too high – the guy returned. "Mr.
Maxwell! Good news! We just took a call from a big-name designer here in the
city. If you say yes to your blinds order within the next 15 minutes, we can
piggyback your blinds with his and discount your price by an additional 30 per
felt like I'd fallen into a real life infomercial. All that remained was the
offer to throw in that amazing bread knife that cuts steel. In the end, I went
for the blinds, but not because I thought it really was my lucky day.
This set of hardwood blinds was selected with the help of samples sent at no charge from the web site dealer. They fit perfectly.
was thin, I felt manipulated, and I couldn't help wondering how many folks
ended up paying way too much for blinds this way. Maybe even I paid too much,
despite all my "luck."
But as I’ve discovered, you don’t have to
play games when buying blinds. You don’t even need to leave the comfort of your
When it came time to buy more blinds for my place this past summer, I
logged onto the Internet to check out the selection. Buying blinds is complicated, so I didn’t expect to be able to actually
complete my purchase while sitting on a lawn chair with my laptop. But I was
wrong, even down to the issue of actually seeing samples in person before
settling on a deal.
outfit I ended up buying from was www.selectblindscanada.ca.
And while there may be other online blinds vendors that are as good, I couldn’t
find them. Their selection was excellent, the blinds fit my windows perfectly,
and installation took me five minutes per blind. I even got an unsolicited email
from a real live person updating me on the status of my order in transit. If I lived next to a blinds store, I’d still
purchase on the web this way. The whole process took about 20 hassle-free
minutes at the keyboard.
online isn’t easy. There are lots of variables: dozens of possible styles, the
need for custom blind widths on every order, and the challenge of communicating
to customers exactly what different colours and styles actually look like in
real life. Whoever’s behind Select Blinds has
addressed all these issues in a way that I can’t criticize. I wish I could find
some fault with the buying experience, if only to make the account of my
experience seem more authentic.
There’s a moment in
every discretionary purchase when the deal clicks in your mind, when you commit
internally to saying ‘yes’. But when it comes to something as personal as
blinds, I doubt the click would have happened for me if it weren’t for one big,
difficult to provide thing: the opportunity to
see physical samples of the styles and colours that struck my fancy online.
all the colours you want on the website, fill in your physical address, then a
week later a thick envelope arrives in the mail. It contains a personalized
sheet of paper with 60mm lengths of all the blinds you’ve sampled, glued to a
piece of paper with your name on top, delivered at no charge.
I had trouble
deciding between less expensive faux wood and premium real wood horizontal
blinds. The sample sheet solved this problem for
me instantly. It also allowed me to correct a mistaken choice I would have made
by selecting colours based on my computer screen only.
More and more of my
home improvement purchases are either being made on line, or heavily influenced
by what I learn there. I know I’m not alone, and that’s a good thing.
Online purchasing dispels retailer nonsense because
comparison shopping is just a click away. It keeps more of us off the road, out
of over-stuffed parking lots, and free from silly in-store gimmicks.
wouldn’t you know! The cost of my online blinds
was less than that amazing deal I lucked into ten years ago.
Maxwell is technical editor of Canadian Home Workshop magazine.