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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Pulled the trigger - Platinum 24 SHO

I'm getting ready to pull the trigger on my first snow blower purchase, the Ariens 24" Platinum (921038).
I know it's overkill for my application, but that's besides the point.
How many of you purchased online and would you do it again?
Would you prefer to purchase at a (semi) local dealer?

I've found a couple of places that will ship the unit but I have a few concerns about this. If the unit is damaged or defective, it seems this is the biggest concern many consumers have.

I'm also concerned about getting it serviced in the event there are warranty issues. It seems not many dealers will service units they didn't sell.

Here's my situation that puts me in this predicament.

The closest dealer to me is 45 Mins, they will service only equipment they sell. If I go this route, at least the dealer is fairly close if I have issues.

Purchase online, save the taxes upfront, but worry about shipping damage and receiving a defective unit. If I go this route there is another dealer that will service ALL Ariens equipment that is about 80mins away.

What are your thoughts, I plan to purchase it in the next week or so once I decided which route to go.

Thanks and I look forward to hearing your feedback and experiences.
 

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I don't think I would give my hard earned money to a dealer that will only service what they have sold.

The Ariens brand has a great name but you have to travel a long way for service. Your looking at 3 hours driving to get a repair done if you have to drop it of and pick it up again.

Do you have any local dealers for other brands?

As far as shipping goes. You can inspect the blower before signing for the delivery.

James
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The only other "dealer" local is a small home Depot.

The shipping dealer is about 2.5 hours from me so in transit time would be minimal.

Getting the unit serviced in the unfortunate event that something goes wrong, I think is my biggest concern.

Is this a concern you would take in to consideration or is it me being too cautious?
 

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I don't make many purchases on line or shop in other cities. I like to support the local economy even if it means the price is a little higher. My neighbours need jobs too and the taxes the local business pay helps lower the tax burden on homeowners. And then as you pointed out getting service is an issue and I certainly don't blame business for not wanting to service equipment they didn't sell. Having said all that I also don't support local big box stores that don't service what they sell. That's how I shop. Let your conscience dictate how you want to shop.
 

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The only other "dealer" local is a small home Depot.

The shipping dealer is about 2.5 hours from me so in transit time would be minimal.

Getting the unit serviced in the unfortunate event that something goes wrong, I think is my biggest concern.

Is this a concern you would take in to consideration or is it me being too cautious?
That is a tough one. I only get service on something I can't fix, don't want to fix, or don't have the tools to do myself. And with the last one I will price up the tools first.

Warranty work is free so that changes things. But if I had to load up a blower, travel 45 mins away, return home empty handed and then do it all again to get it, I would think before leaving. Some work I would just repair myself even if I had to pay for the parts. If it was an expensive repair then I would take it in.

Who does the servicing for the Home Depot? A closer service center could really affect my buying decision.

How much will you save by ordering online?

Is the savings going to be worth an extra 35 minute drive, each way, to get service work done? That is an extra 2 hours and 20 minutes for a repair that has to worked on and picked up later. If you get one that is a lemon, this could really add up in fuel, time and so on.

Do you have any experiences with the dealer 45 minutes away?

If they are a good dealer that takes care of its customer, you might be better off buying there so you have a closer dealer to work with.

But I would see how Home Depot handles repairs as well. They might be able to save you a lot of travel time.

James
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks BullFrog, I agree with most all that you said. If there was a dealer down the street I would have one in my garage already. Unfortunately I don't. I'm surprised that the authorized dealers aren't required by the manufacturer to perform warranty support. I can understand why the dealer doesn't want too, it could also be a dealer tactic to get the consumer to purchase from them.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The only other "dealer" local is a small home Depot.

The shipping dealer is about 2.5 hours from me so in transit time would be minimal.

Getting the unit serviced in the unfortunate event that something goes wrong, I think is my biggest concern.

Is this a concern you would take in to consideration or is it me being too cautious?
That is a tough one. I only get service on something I can't fix, don't want to fix, or don't have the tools to do myself. And with the last one I will price up the tools first.

Warranty work is free so that changes things. But if I had to load up a blower, travel 45 mins away, return home empty handed and then do it all again to get it, I would think before leaving. Some work I would just repair myself even if I had to pay for the parts. If it was an expensive repair then I would take it in.

Who does the servicing for the Home Depot? A closer service center could really affect my buying decision.

How much will you save by ordering online?

Is the savings going to be worth an extra 35 minute drive, each way, to get service work done? That is an extra 2 hours and 20 minutes for a repair that has to worked on and picked up later. If you get one that is a lemon, this could really add up in fuel, time and so on.

Do you have any experiences with the dealer 45 minutes away?

If they are a good dealer that takes care of its customer, you might be better off buying there so you have a closer dealer to work with.

But I would see how Home Depot handles repairs as well. They might be able to save you a lot of travel time.

James
Similar to you, I will do as much as I can myself before taking it to the dealer, but there is always the possibility that I can't repair it.

The dealer I'm looking at locally is who does the Home Depot repair.

I have no experience with the dealer, we just moved here a little over a year ago.

Im guessing that it could be around 400 dollar savings.
 

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Similar to you, I will do as much as I can myself before taking it to the dealer, but there is always the possibility that I can't repair it.

The dealer I'm looking at locally is who does the Home Depot repair.

I have no experience with the dealer, we just moved here a little over a year ago.

Im guessing that it could be around 400 dollar savings.
By the sounds of it, your only "local" shop is Home Depot. That is the only one that is giving jobs you your area.

But as far as service goes, you have to go to another area to have that done. The $400 savings is nice. And might be more than that once you figure in fuel and time to go to the dealer that is 45 minutes away to buy.

You can eat into your savings pretty quick if you have to travel 80 minutes for service.

If service it at the top of your list then you will have to buy from the dealer 45 minutes away. They are you only option.

If you want to save money up front, then go with the online retailer.

There isn't a clear easy winner in my mind.

James
 

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Thanks BullFrog, I agree with most all that you said. If there was a dealer down the street I would have one in my garage already. Unfortunately I don't. I'm surprised that the authorized dealers aren't required by the manufacturer to perform warranty support. I can understand why the dealer doesn't want too, it could also be a dealer tactic to get the consumer to purchase from them.
I suspect the big box retailers just don't want the overhead of a service department however small that may be. Case in point is 4 years ago I purchased a hot water heater from HD on a Friday evening because I needed one pronto. Last spring the tank rusted through but was well within the warranty period of 9 years. I went into HD with my receipt and was told to get warranty work done on it I'd have to phone a certain number of which the store didn't have. They were of course very helpful and told me to just google it and I'd likely find something. Really? Google it and maybe I'd find it? I had the old tank in the back of the truck. All they had to do was exchange it. That's good customer service? The kicker is I could have bought the exact same tank for the same price at a local plumbing supply store if I had waited until Monday. The other kicker is if had I bought from the local supply store the manager would have had come out after hours and got me fixed up because they see me as a valuable customer with a future relationship. I'm seen as more than just an invoice number. Good customer service means repeat business despite the occasional inconvenience.

As far as any tactics go of course they want the business. That's why you buy a business, pay wages for good people, and the overhead of operating it. Joe Blow who walks in your door with a broken product bought on line from another business exactly like you sell is not a good customer anyway and are entitled to nothing. Of course if you live somewhere where the state (gov't) says you have to that's another story and likely why local shops have to close up. Without the additional income of a sale its difficult to survive. And if they close up you end up in the above scenario. Google it. I got your money now get lost.

I'll get off my soap box now.
 

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I suspect the big box retailers just don't want the overhead of a service department however small that may be. Case in point is 4 years ago I purchased a hot water heater from HD on a Friday evening because I needed one pronto. Last spring the tank rusted through but was well within the warranty period of 9 years. I went into HD with my receipt and was told to get warranty work done on it I'd have to phone a certain number of which the store didn't have. They were of course very helpful and told me to just google it and I'd likely find something. Really? Google it and maybe I'd find it? I had the old tank in the back of the truck. All they had to do was exchange it. That's good customer service? The kicker is I could have bought the exact same tank for the same price at a local plumbing supply store if I had waited until Monday. The other kicker is if had I bought from the local supply store the manager would have had come out after hours and got me fixed up because they see me as a valuable customer with a future relationship. I'm seen as more than just an invoice number. Good customer service means repeat business despite the occasional inconvenience.

As far as any tactics go of course they want the business. That's why you buy a business, pay wages for good people, and the overhead of operating it. Joe Blow who walks in your door with a broken product bought on line from another business exactly like you sell is not a good customer anyway and are entitled to nothing. Of course if you live somewhere where the state (gov't) says you have to that's another story and likely why local shops have to close up. Without the additional income of a sale its difficult to survive. And if they close up you end up in the above scenario. Google it. I got your money now get lost.

I'll get off my soap box now.
I agree but not all local shops are good. In his case he doesn't have any local shops.

I like to reward good service. I worked at Costco years ago. They sell magazines there. I use to buy a lot of them. But very few were bought from Costco. I use to go to a local magazine shop that was just down the road from work. I would buy the sports betting papers as well as magazines. I knew the owner of the shop because he shopped at Costco.

There was times he would just let me get the little bit of the info I needed from the paper rather than buy it. So because of that I would buy magazines or a drink that day. We talked sports a lot. One day I was buying 3-5 magazines from him. He said you know you can get that one cheaper at work, right? I said I know but I would rather spend the extra 35 cents and support a local business. If he was still open I would still be buying from him.

I went to a tire shop for a quote on tires. This is around the time people started to up size the tires and rims on their cars. I went in to price some up and started the conversation with the fact that I was putting on a size that was different from stock. Well that was after he finished his 15 minute phone conversation with his friend. This guy argued with me non stop and couldn't answer basic questions I was asking. I never spent a cent there and I'm still telling people how bad they were 23 years later. I believe they went out of business.

I wanted a Jeep. I was buying used. There were only so many available. Searched for months. One day I decided to go 45 minutes away to look at one. That dealer was amazing to deal with. I ended up buying it there. I couldn't take it till the financing was done. It was done a day on Monday I believe. I looked at it Saturday. I wanted to pick it up that day because we were down to one vehicle. But him and the finance woman were off early that day. I said I would have to see if I can get off early because I needed it. He called back later and offered to drive my Jeep to his house which was only 10-15 minutes from my work. I drove there, signed the papers and was on my way. If I buy another Jeep or Dodge I will be going to them first. I also tell everyone about them. Apparently I'm not the only one that loves them. I hear a lot of good things. It is a family own business.

I have more stories as well. I like to support good service when ever I can. I also try to support local when possible. Other times you don't have any good options.

I agree with trying to buy local first and give them a chance to earn your business. If they go, the online deals don't have to be as good anymore because there is less competition.

James
 

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Similar to you, I will do as much as I can myself before taking it to the dealer, but there is always the possibility that I can't repair it.
The dealer I'm looking at locally is who does the Home Depot repair.
I have no experience with the dealer, we just moved here a little over a year ago.
The fact that a dealer would service his own customer first is simple as I had a bicycle shop 10 years ago which many times I was faced with the same dilemma. Most of the time the service department is swamped in peak season to have our clients back on the road to enjoy their purchase.
So I ask if when a client of yours is waiting for service on his past purchase with you from a client with no history with you before then my choice is simple don't you think? When business is past its peak service time then only will I accept to serve him the best I can. It is a simple business model that is followed by most if not by all good dealerships.
Stefan if you want good service when in need your choice must be simple.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I understand the reasoning behind the service departments and the way they operate, Past customers get 'premium' service. I understand that, but saying they only service their equipment is something I don't get. I look at it like this 'Have you always only serviced your vehicle at the location it was bought?' this doesn't apply to vehicles only, electronics, tools etc. Moved to a new location? You can see where I'm going.
I will most likely purchase it where the closest service center will be and hope I never need them.
A warranty is no good if everyone refuses to service it , that's why I said that I'm surprised the manufacturer doesn't require an authorized repair facility to take on the 'bussines', and potentially earn new business as well.

If I'm not mistaken most warranty work is paid out to the dealer via the manufacturer. Probably not at their normal hourly rate. I could be wrong.
 

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Interesting debate with some good points raised. Just as a suggestion if I may, it would be helpful StefanC if you posted the area you live on your profile for more accurate assistance.

As you mentioned warranty work by a dealer is at a reduced labor rate paid by the manufacturer but can still be profitable for a dealer proficient in what they do. However they are not policed for poor turnaround time for those who did not buy from them, as was mentioned above there are many "local dealers" that I would not want to service my equipment unless I was desperate. They either take too long (especially if you didn't buy the equipment from them), do poor quality work or just push higher profit brands etc.

I also if there were a choice would prefer buying locally from an honest and qualified dealer over a big box store or via the internet and that is what I did with the last 3 snowblowers that I purchased. But I have had some bad experiences with "authorized dealers" as well, knowledge of your equipment before buying and being somewhat handy can only help you but we all are different in this regard, some more handy than others some who just don't want to devote much of their time to such things (the dealer's favorite type of customer).

You will ultimately have to make this decision. I am confident if you had issues with a machine you bought from an authorized dealer whether locally or online Ariens would do whatever possible to help you resolve it within the warranty period their customer support is that good.

However if you have a choice and the dollars and cents is not that different I mean about a 5-10% price difference (let the local dealer know what you can buy the machine for online delivered, they will likely work with you if they value your business). I would try to buy from a local dealer that in many cases will try to do the right thing and stand behind what they sell. Additionally a qualified dealer will set up the machine properly which is important to overall functionality. Small adjustments that a layman is not familiar with an experienced dealer will no how to do quickly and effectively because they work on your brand/model machine often.

Best of luck with your choice!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I pulled the trigger at the dealer closest to me. Should be delivered Wed or Thurs, like many of you, supporting my local economy was a big draw as well as having the service department on hand if issues do arise.

Thanks for your input, I will post some photos of it when I take delivery.
 

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I went with the platinum 24 sho.
I am 99% sure I want this model as well although I am still hung up on the auto turn feature. I was aiming to buy the 2014 SHO but it got too late in the season I decided to hold off and also supply was limited locally. This year seems to have a bigger engine which is nice but the feedback on the autoturn still has me on the fence. I know its hard to make a judgement call from such a small sample size here on the forums but it seems this years model still has a very sensitive turning system. I saw that installing the different skids might alleviate the issue however spending $1500 on something that I have to fight with does not sound pleasant.
 

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I am 99% sure I want this model as well although I am still hung up on the auto turn feature. I was aiming to buy the 2014 SHO but it got too late in the season I decided to hold off and also supply was limited locally. This year seems to have a bigger engine which is nice but the feedback on the autoturn still has me on the fence. I know its hard to make a judgement call from such a small sample size here on the forums but it seems this years model still has a very sensitive turning system. I saw that installing the different skids might alleviate the issue however spending $1500 on something that I have to fight with does not sound pleasant.
Well, I'm taking a chance on it working because I didn't want a Husqvarna and the nearest Toro dealer is a 90 minute drive.
 

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Stefan – that was a good move. The odds are you will never take that machine back for repairs during its lifetime, but if something major happens a 45-min drive will be very minor.
 
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