Home Theater

Testing Home Theater Gear: Free Returns, How Many is Too Many?

Some places offer free one or two-way shipping. Amazon comes to mind but there are other manufacturers and resellers as well. When you are testing out home theater gear (speakers in particular) we often recommend buying from places that have free returns. This allows you to test the gear in your room so that you’ll know exactly how it will sound. At some point, it feels a little abusive. You’ve tested two or three or more pieces of gear and have more on the way. You know that you’re planning on sending most if not all of them back. Should you feel bad? How many returns are too many? Let’s discuss!

Heck No!

First of all, large resellers like Amazon don’t deserve your sympathy. They’ve built into their pricing and business model the cost of free returns. Even if they pass those costs onto the individual businesses that sell through Amazon, they know what they signed up for. Plus, I can tell you from personal experience that Amazon will start charging you for returns if you abuse the system. When I was shopping for items that require very specific fit (climbing shoes and cycling helmets) I ordered a ton of models. Eventually, Amazon started charging me for returns. If you haven’t hit that level yet, return away, guilt-free!

Let’s stick it to the “man”

If you are worried about places like SVS and Aperion Audio that offer free in-home demos, don’t. SVS and Aperion have built into their pricing that some of their products will be returned. It’s okay if that person is you. Also, they believe in their products. They love them. They think you will love them too if they can get them into your room. When you test their home theater gear, they are confident that you won’t want to use their free return policy.

It’s About Getting the Best Product for You

You want the best gear. More importantly, manufacturers want you to think that their gear is the best. They don’t want you to keep their gear simply because you didn’t want to pay the return shipping. They’d rather you send it back than keep it and not love it. They want you to be so thrilled with your purchase that you recommend them to friends and strangers. It’s worth the cost of the return shipping to make sure that, if you aren’t going to rave about their products, you’ll still recommend them for their free in-home auditions. You might not have liked their product, but the person who ordered because you recommended their free returns probably will! At least, that’s what they are counting on.

Take Away

I get it. Ording home theater gear for you to test knowing that you’ll be using the free returns for most of it feels weird. But you aren’t the one who decided to offer the free returns. They are. They are playing the lottery betting that you will like their product so much that you won’t want to send it back. Sometimes they win. Sometimes they don’t. Either way, it is on them. You are just looking for the best home theater gear for you. Shop away!

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