Monday, July 30, 2012

“Budget” in the Name? Be Cautious!

by Kate Collins

This is a cautionary tale about being misled by advertising. It’s a true story about my venture into buying window coverings that can apply to just about anything sold by a company with the word Budget in their name.  
By definition, a budget is an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time. But combined with another noun, such as the word car – i.e. budget car -- one would expect to see a car at a lower than normal price. So a company selling window coverings that incorporated the word Budget into its moniker would seem to sell a product at a lower cost. Right?

Not so much.

I was told that this company, let’s call it Budget Company X, sold shades and blinds at a discount. I arranged a meeting with the salesman and found that he operated out of his van. Fine. Obviously a franchise. No overhead costs thus lower prices. Made sense to me.

He measured my windows, I selected various styles of blinds, and later that day he emailed me the estimate. First he gave me the MLP (manufacturer’s list price), in this case, Hunter Douglas’s pricing. Then he gave me his price at a 30% discount. Wow. What a difference! From $8565 MLP down to $5752.

And even though this seemed like a terrific deal, a little voice in my head kept saying, even discounted, that’s a lot of money for not a lot of windows. Yes, they’re Hunter Douglas, which is a good brand, but still… that much?

After a day of tossing it around in my head, I visited my local decorating/paint store, where they also sell Hunter Douglas blinds and shades. I took in measurements from a sampling of windows and got quotes. I was stunned! The charge for one window at Budget Company X was $446, while at the local store the same window was $195.  And down the line it went. I asked for measurements for all the windows and got a grand total of $3770. That’s a heck of a lot less expensive than Budget Company X’s quote.

So much for the “budget” window coverings. I’m saving  $2000 because I trusted that little voice in my head.  

Have you had a similar experience or been caught up in the hype and later kicked yourself for not double checking?