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If you’re a horror fan you’ll really enjoy buying home cinema equipment! For the uninitiated it can be a nightmare, but you needn’t become a victim if you adopt the right attitude, and follow a few simple guidelines. The first and most obvious ones are to buy from a reputable source and pay by credit card.


Specialist dealers, preferably ones belonging to BADA and RETRA (British Audio Dealers Association and Radio Electrical and Television Retailers Association) almost always give the best service, have the most knowledgeable staff and will generally be most helpful when it comes to sorting out any problems. It’s true you can usually save a few pounds by going to the well-known high-street multiples but the choice of equipment may limited and there might not be any opportunity to try before you buy. That’s important, never buy anything you haven’t heard or watched for yourself  otherwise you’re just asking for trouble. Advertisements, brochures and dare we say, even magazine test reports are no substitute for your own eyes and ears.


Payment by credit card is a must on any item costing more than £100, even if you’ve got the cash in your pocket. Remember though, pay up when the bill comes as the interest on credit card loans can be quite expensive, though they’re not as dear as in-store credit. If you want credit the cheapest sources are usually bank loans or agreed overdrafts, but do check first. Watch out too for 0% deals or have-now-pay-later schemes, read the small print and be aware of your rights. Cash can have its uses though, and it sometimes works as a bargaining tool -- it’s always worth asking --  and if you’re offered a decent discount you can always nip round to the bank.


Credit cards are definitely the best way to pay for goods purchased by mail order, and there can be substantial savings, though don’t forget to add on the cost of carriage, packing and insurance, and watch for hidden costs as some companies charge a 1% or 2% premium for credit card sales; we recommend you discourage this practice and give them a wide berth! You should also bear in mind what we’ve said about seeing what you’re buying in the flesh beforehand. In addition to the insurance schemes operated by many card companies they also give you some redress  if anything goes wrong with a mail order deal, or the company goes bust before they deliver.


There’s no obvious advantage in using debit cards like Switch, to pay for AV equipment;  they do not operate specialised protection schemes, and the money is ruthlessly extracted from your bank account there and then. The only good thing about cheques is they’re safer than cash, and may give you a couple of days free credit until they clear, otherwise they’re restricted by £50 or £100 guarantee limits. 



Ó R. Maybury 1994 2608





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