Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Do You Buy New or Used Cars?

Ashley Jacobs at WiseBread,com has a post asking the question to readers - Do You Buy New or Used Cars? When I came to the US almost 14 years ago , buying a car and buying a mattress were the top two confusing purchases that confounded me to the nth degree.

Luckily for me a family friend - a Col. in the army gave some good advice.

  • As soon as you leave the dealership with a new car the value drops .
  • Buy a low mileage used car between 3 to 5 years. At the 5 year mark the car may have lost atleast 1/2 its value
  • Do your homework before you go to the dealership. Kelly's Blue Book, Consumer Reports recommended.
14 years later a few things could be different , I am told used cars are now sought after more so their price holds and new cars may be getting close to used car prices. You have the internet to research so you don't have to buy "books". You have Twitter to ask for advice or Facebook.  6 of the 7 cars I have purchased have been used. The last one I bought in 2009 was a bargain due to the economy at that time. The one van i bought new i leased it for 3 years and then returned the van at the end of the lease. The lease experience was good but somehow I felt it was more money.
Crowdsourcing : The one car I bought despite advice from the crowd was a 2003 Volkswagen Passat and boywas i wrong and they so right. The car was good to drive but was so expensive going into repair 2-3 times a year. It's completely moved me out of a European car purchase at least for now.

I also bought a used car from the owner directly twice and got a heavy bill once and smooth sailing in the other. I prefer going to a reputable dealer . For  the past few years my friend ( a childhood buddy) Harmeet Suri works in  Fitzmall in Gaithersburg  so I have bought cars from him and definitely recommend him to anyone.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Local edges out Technology at the Washington Post as Rob Pegoraro logs off

I have been a loyal Washington Post reader for 14 years and Rob Pegoraro has been writing for 17 years. Today the Washington Post carried Rob Pegoraro's  last column and Rob Pegoraro 's Twitter feed now says "Ex-Washington Post" columnist.

To think at one time the Washington Post used to have a full technology section and I seem to remember a paper edition of WashTech. I also remember the Business section has been changing in the past few years.Kim Hart left for Politico and Mike Musgrove moved on. Nancy Trejos moved to the Travel Section and Dan Beyers is now at the new Capital Business.

As Rob Pegoraro writes :
The proximate cause is management deciding that the sort of review and analysis of technology that I’ve been doing for most of those 17 years is no longer part of the Post’s core mission. As I understand it, the paper places a high priority on covering Washington the city (as in, local news and sports) and Washington the story (politics), but other topics may not be assured of column inches or server space.
I still read the paper edition of the Washington Post.  As the Washington Post Outlook article (April 7th 2011) Five myths about the future of journalism" said "print circulation worldwide was up more than 5 percent in the past five years" and "so far, no one has really cracked the code for producing profitable local news online."

I am going to watch keenly to see where the new  direction takes the Washington Post to in the meantime my feedreader has a new URL to watch http://robpegoraro.com/. Good luck Rob but not good bye. Enjoyed your columns and look forward to reading more from you where ever you write.
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Monday, April 11, 2011

SEARS great service but well hidden

I don't know about you but a great number of appliances in my house are from SEARS. In fact after moving to the US 14 years ao I bought my first TV from Sears which to this day is working very well. Recently I had a great ecommerce experience that even if I returned the item made my opinion of Sears even greater.

I was looking for a mini refrigrator for my daughter's room at the University of Maryland. The dorm room refrigrators start from $75 and after visiting Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy I narrowed my choice to a 2.4 cu. ft. Compact Refrigerator and went to SEARS to see it.

A search of Amazon on my T-Mobile Nexus One phone told similar refrigrators were more expensive. The net step was to see if I could some Sears coupon and I found one that  $5 dollars off. I ordered the refrigrator online and then went to the pickup area where there was a console and put my order number in and in a few minutes the refrigrator was delivered.

Now this story should have ended here but after two weeks of usage the refrigrator stoppd working. Now a college student learns to adopt and my daughter did not have time to call service. When we insisted she called Sears and then had to abandon the call as the card used was mine.

A few weeks passed then I forced myself to drive over to pick up the refrigrator and decide how to fix it. Then a light bulb went off in my head. This was a online order so I had the order in my email. I used Google to look for Sears repair and was so encouraged to see a chat box that I could use instead of using the phone. ( I like using chat and hate calling by phone) On closer examination of my original order confirmation I saw two things that impressed me:
  1. The email was signed by the Sr. VP of eCommerce himself
  2. The email had a esay button for returns
I gave them the reason for return , went to Sears and used the console and returned the refrigrator. Got a return receipt . The appliance counter credited the account to my card and I left a happy customer.

The one lesson is that I wish somehow I had seen the convenient way SEARS has to make sure the customer is satisfied even if they love using online tools

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