My Adventures in buying a washing machine
I bought my first washing machine in 2008-09 while I was a bachelor. It was a very basic top load automatic one from Videocon. I have fond memories of using the machine as a single person living alone, setting it up at night with the delay-wash option. Before going to work, I would just hang the washed and partially dried clothes. Recently after years, its parts began to fail, mostly due to natural wear and tear. My trusted electrician refused to fix it anymore and asked me to buy a new one. Left with no choice but to look for one, I replaced it. RIP my dear Videocon, you did good while you were around.
Researching and finding the "perfect" appliance online is a mess. Trust is a scarce resource and things get deprecated soon. So, basically, the model recommended is no more available in the market. I decided to go the old-school way and check with the local dealer. Among the available brands, I had decided that I would either get a Samsung or an LG one. So I went and checked that the dealer had two models of each brand. Asked them about which one is the better one and had already kind of decided on the better one. Since Samsung's prices were slightly less and feature wise almost identical, I decided to go with Samsung.
Next up, being the kind of person I am, I looked up those models online and found, there is a newer model with wifi. Not too keen on the wifi part of the whole thing, I decided to drop that model from contention. Then I went to Amazon and Flipkart to check the prices and see how much I can bargain with the dealer :). Something weird caught my eye. There were two machines with slightly different model numbers(one being the machine I saw at the dealer's showroom) but features were identical. But the catch was the prices were different, one model was cheaper by almost 3k compared to what I saw at the dealers showroom. It made zero sense to me. I was sure there had to be some difference between the two which can account for the 3k price difference. I checked Samsung's website, amazon and flipkart's listing description, but they were identical in all ways except for the model number and price. Determined to find more, I called Samsung customer care and they too told me it's the same thing. I called the dealer to see if they would match the price. Truthfully I wanted to buy it from the dealer rather than online. But the dealer told me they did not have that model and my last price would at best be 1.5k less than what they quoted me the day before. In the end I bought the one from Flipkart and its been without an incident so far.
So here is what I believe is happening. Samsung is selling the same product with different model numbers to dealers and online retailers. Online retailers must be getting a better discount or want to sell at a lesser margin. After all, having a physical store does cost money. Why sell two different models of the same product, well so that the dealers can't complain that they are getting a product at a higher price. After all, they are different models. For us mere mortals, we might not know this or we might think something is fishy and buy the costlier one.
Lesson here my friends is that we must check online, not just for the model that we want to buy but others as well which might have the very same features from the same brand but at a lesser price. Honestly the whole thing is a mess.