It could be suggested that in the UK we are internet addicts. This is certainly true when it comes to internet shopping. In recent years the internet has been a game changer for many retailers with some traditional High Street chains suffering at the hands of leaner internet based set-ups. If any further evidence was required of how the internet has changed the face of UK shopping then it came in the form of data published last year by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The OECD data showed that the UK population are the most prolific internet shoppers in the world. The data suggests that 60% of the UK population have purchased goods or services online. This is twice the average of the other 34 member states of the OECD which includes the US, France and Germany. What is more important is that this figure is only set to grow.
However, in my experience this switch from traditional retailers to internet based retailers has not been seen when it comes to buying a guitar online. A quick straw pole of friends showed that not many of us had actually experienced buying a guitar online. In fact I was the only one who had actually purchased a guitar through an online retailer. So why are we more reticent to try the internet when it comes to buying a guitar online?
For many of us buying a guitar is a major purchasing decision and as such we like to be sure that we have made the correct decision. Therefore one of the main reasons people cite for not buying a guitar online is that they cannot see or try the guitar before they buy it. We are also very precious over our instruments, which I have to say is more than understandable. So the thought of a courier kicking your guitar round the back of their van is enough to induce nightmares. What also makes it worse is the issue of not being in when the courier delivers your guitar. The hassle involved to get them to re-deliver can be quite frustrating. Other reasons for not ordering online include things such as guitar set-up, what if the instrument is not set-up properly, if you buy online you won’t know this until it arrives and you try to play it. What do you do in this situation.
However, if we order everything from food and drink to TVs and computers online then why not a guitar.
Well if I haven’t put you off the idea of ever buying a guitar online it is worth considering the advantages of going online?
For me the main advantage of buying a guitar online is one of choice and cost. Take my local guitar shop, they are brilliant, the staff are knowledgeable and are always happy to help and they carry a great stock of guitars. However, they don’t carry every model of guitar and so if I want some obscure version in a particular colour are they going to have it in stock? Maybe not. Consider the example of that obscure guitar, if my guitar shop does have it in stock would I get the best price possible for that instrument? Again maybe not. However, with the internet all it takes is a quick search on Google, or any other reputable search engines that you may wish to choose, and you will find that obscure model of guitar, that you have set your heart on, stocked in several guitar shops around the UK and you can compare them all for the best price.
What about the set-up of the guitar? In most cases the guitar comes straight from the online retailer in the box that they received it from the manufacturer. Most guitar manufacturers will give their guitars a standard set-up and string them as part of their quality control procedure and so, apart from a tune-up, they will usually be playable straight out of the box. I recently ordered a Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster through Gear 4 Music and after the guitar had been left to warm-up, it was delivered on a cold day, and tuned I didn’t have to do anything else other than plug it in and play. Now it is fair to say that a standard factory set-up might not be to every bodies tastes, some may prefer a lower action or a different set of strings. But this is relatively straight forward to remedy so should not be seen as an impediment to buying a guitar online. In fact I have to say that I purchased a second hand guitar many years ago from a traditional guitar shop. The guitar had obviously been re-set by the shop but it had been so badly done that it was a wonder that it ever stayed in tune. Just goes to show that just because you have a guitar shop doesn’t mean you know how to set-up a guitar.
Using an online retailer can put people off buying a guitar online because you have no visibility as to how good they are. However this can be resolved by doing some quick research to check out how good they are before buying a guitar online. Check out reviews from other customers, a good internet retailer should have nothing to fear from customer reviews. Furthermore, most decent online retailers will use customer survey sites such such as Ciao! and Trust Pilot to check customer satisfaction. These are definitely worth looking at to see how the company is rated for customer satisfaction, complaints resolution and returns policy. If there is anything that doesn’t look right or you feel looks dodgy then don’t use that retailer.
In terms of customer rights you have all the normal rights that you would expect from a traditional retailer. This includes a cooling off period where if you feel you have made a mistake you can return the guitar and get a full refund. However, the best piece of advice I was given was to use a credit card for all online purchases as most of the major credit card providers have a purchase protection scheme which will cover you should anything go wrong.
Finally as with anything in life there are good and bad online retailers. Thankfully poor retailers are few and far between. The internet is no place to hide if you try to utilise shoddy retail tactics. The good thing is that if you find a good one that you trust then you will be able to gain all the benefits of choice and cost without any of the hassle. My favourite online retailer, and I always use them when buying a guitar online, is Gear 4 Music. We act as an affliate for Gear 4 Music because we believe they are one of the best online guitar retailers out their.
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