Shopping When You Need an Immediate Replacement

Yesterday, while in the middle of a conference call, our home telephone dropped dead.

The phone’s small screen went black, came back on, and then refused to connect to the base. I switched to another phone – and the same problem occurred. I called back into the conference call using Skype, but afterwards, I continued to investigate. I ran through every diagnostic in the manual and a few more I found online to no avail.

Something was simply broken with the phone.

I needed a functional replacement quickly. The very next day (yes, that means today), I was scheduled for two additional phone calls that I needed to be on, plus we were receiving regular updates about an ailing relative.

This would have been a perfect excuse to just run to the store, pick up an imperfect quick replacement, and muddle through using it.

Instead, it was an opportunity to figure out what the best method is when you need to buy an immediate replacement for an item.

First, I researched the item thoroughly online. What phones were out there that had the options I needed? I hit Amazon. I hit a few other sites that offered many reviews of cordless phones.

After some deliberation, I found myself with a list of models that I would consider buying. This took about half an hour.

I then hit the websites of various retailers in my area. I searched to find out if they had any of the models in stock in the stores near me. I actually found several different options when doing it, as certain phones were carried by certain chains and a few were carried by multiple chains.

This gave me a list of phone models, prices, and locations in my area from which to make a decision. This list, made in a spreasheet, took about fifteen minutes.

Once I had that list, I read through a few reviews again to help me make my final decision and then moved forward with the purchase by selecting a store and a model to buy. I verified it was in stock before I went to purchase it.

One other big step: I made this trip into a multi-errand stop. I also needed to pick up a few groceries and stop by the post office, so I got those things in order as well. I finished up my shopping list before I left and collected together all of my mail, too.

The end result? I wound up with a pretty good phone at the best price I could find. In other words, for about fifty minutes’ worth of work, I maximized the bang for the buck from my phone purchase (with the caveat, of course, that I needed to pick it up quickly). I also focused on maximizing the value of my trip by compounding it with other stops.

Sometimes, life hands you unexpected expenses. That doesn’t mean you have to stop, throw your hands up in the air, and just pay out the nose for an inferior product. Even if you need to have something quickly, you can still take the time to improve the bang for the buck you’ll get with your purchase.

Good luck!