If you’ve purchased a portable generator online, you know how incredible the savings can be. It is not uncommon to see discounts on new generators anywhere from twenty to forty percent.
And not just lesser known brands but well know generator brands. However, there is one issue that buyers take for granted; that is their right or perceived right to return the unit in the event that it wasn’t want they expected.
Prior to purchasing any generator online, make sure that you understand why some online retailers will not authorize you to return the unit no matter what.
I’m sharing this incident with you, to help you understand how to properly purchase a portable generator online. Follow these instructions and your purchase will be smooth flowing. Ignore these instructions and your online purchase could turn into a frustrating, emotionally draining, time consuming nightmare. I’m allowing this couple to tell their story and then I’ve got some helpful tips for you.
Our Portable Generator Horror Story
My wife and I scoured the Internet searching for a generator to provide us with power in the event that we experienced another power outage. When we moved to Massachusetts from Tempe, Arizona, we had never been in an outage to speak of. Needless to say, the first time was warning enough for us. When the power came back on, we went back home, jumped on the Internet and starting searching. We finally decided on a Briggs and Stratton 10,000-Watt 16 HP Portable Generator.
This was an ideal choice for us because in the event of another power outage we could use the necessary items, plus have enough power to use some luxuries. This generator features a powerful Briggs & Stratton vanguard commercial OHV 16 HP engine with a special idle control mechanism to save fuel and reduce noise. It has an automatic low-oil shutoff mechanism that protects the engine and an extra-large, pretty quiet muffler that lowers the noise output to an acceptable hum.
When we run our unit, our neighbors never complain and trust me, if it bothered them, they’d take their case to the United Stated Supreme Court, just to get us to shut our generator down. Anyhow, The automatic voltage regulation, which comes standard, allows us to use our laptops and computers during an outage and not be concerned about the generator damaging our sensitive electronics.
In terms of ordering online, everything went great! We saved approximately two hundred and nineteen dollars. We made the purchase through a secure Https server. Our order was confirmed via e-mail and we immediately received a URL link that we could use to track our purchase from the warehouse to our door. When our portable generator arrived, we noticed a major gash in the box. The delivery guy brushed it off; he said it happens all the time and it was no big deal. He explained to us that these units are packaged so well that he had never seen one damaged, even when the outside of the box was damaged.
What he said actually made sense and like lambs to the slaughter, we accepted his explanation and signed for the unit; bad mistake. We opened the box and lo and behold, there was major damage! It looked like a forklift had punctured it. As soon we saw that, we emailed the retailer requesting an authorization for a return. The person we did the online chat with asked us if we attempted to start the unit. When we advised them that we hadn’t, they suggested that we at least try and start before attempting to return.
Not thinking, (remember, this is our first generator purchase) we put gas and oil in the unit, cranked it and it ran, but boy was it vibrating and clanking as in metal to metal. I shut the unit down and e-mailed the online retailer again and explained what the unit was doing.
To my utter amazement and disbelief, they informed me they couldn’t take the unit back because it would pose a hazardous material issue.
It took us four and a half weeks of going back and forth before getting this issue resolved. In the end, the online retailer sent us to an authorized Briggs and Stratton Dealer and they replaced the damaged unit with a new one. But, had we known the parameters for ordering a portable generator online from the very beginning, this fiasco never would have happened.
While we were pushing to resolve this matter, we had an ice storm that left us in the dark and the cold for a week and a half. Two hours into the outage, my wife had enough; we packed our bags and drove almost fours before we found a hotel we could check into.
Their trying experience brings to light a number of things you must know about buying a portable generator online.
1). Know The Return Policy Before You Order
If you don’t agree with the terms, find another online retailer. It’s as simple as that. Different retailers have different policies. Some companies state very clearly, “NO RETURNS!” Other state that you must obtain an authorization code from them before they will accept the return. By knowing their policy, you avoid a lot of grief/
2). Don’t Start The Portable Generator If You have Valid Concerns
Once you put gasoline and oil in a generator, for all practical intents and purposes, no one is going to ship it back to a retailer through the normal channels. The fuel and the oil make the unit classified as having hazardous material. With this point, there is NO negotiation or debate. If you see visible damage, or the unit is not what you ordered or expected, DO NOT put any fuel or oil in it. By not doing so, you can ship it back with no hazardous material concerns.
3). Don’t Place An Order Until You’ve Done Your Homework
It is imperative that you decide on a brand, make and model prior to ordering. You should have clarified what you’re using the generator for and performed a generator sizing test to know for sure what size generator you need. Prior to ordering you should know about that manufacturer’s reputation and their customer service rating. If you follow those guidelines, you won’t have to worry about returns.