Should you buy your tyres online?
February 14, 2006
We all want cheap tyres but should you buy them online?
Does this scenario sound familiar? You go into a tyre depot for a tyre, several sucks through the fitters teeth later and you come out with 4 new tyres, an exhaust, new shocks and a stem lube whatever that is!
That's a very real fear faced by customers of fast fit tyre centres and all too often it's a fear that becomes a reality. Principally because those other items are the items that that teeth sucking fitter is paid bonus on selling. Buying online is a good way to insulate you against that.
How it works
When you buy online, you select the tyre via the website, pay, select where you want to fit the tyre and then arrange the appointment. It's not as complicated as it sounds, often this is done within about 5 clicks. This tells the online company where to send the tyre. you then go into the selected tyre store at your appointed time where they will fit it for you. Most online centres require 24hours notice to get the tyre to the tyre store, but that is changing and if shop around a little, you may be able to find some with instant availability.
Firstly with most of the online tyre companies, you pay before you go into the tyre centre. That means often the tyre centre isn't expecting you to go into the store with money, therefore, he's already written you off as a prospect for the "up sell".
In addition, you get much more choice, I would always recommend that if you are only fitting one or two tyres you should fit the brand and pattern that is on the tyres you are not planning to replace. Don't mix patterns if you can avoid it. Generally, when you drive into a tyre store, you are offered what they want to sell you, what they are bonused on or what they have in stock. If they are owned by a tyre manufacturer, like Bridgestone, Pirelli, Michelin or Continental they will try to sell the owner brand and often that is what they will have the most stock of.
Online tyre suppliers have no overriding interest in what they sell you. If they are making a profit, they will sell you what they ask for
Which leads me on to the best reason to buy online. PRICE. Think about it, a chain of tyre stores has to pay for the buildings they are in, the staff they employ, the personnel department to manage the staff, the computer systems the use, all of these costs go into to the price you pay. Online tyre suppliers don't have these costs, therefore, they can pass the savings on to you ensuring you get a great deal online
So what of the disadvantages? If you have a puncture now, you can't always wait 24hrs for the tyre to arrive in the tyre store and then the other thing to consider is that if they don't own the store that they are sending the tyre too, they can't easily control the quality of the service you receive. They counter this by extensive use of customer satisfaction surveys and rewards for those stores that achieve high scores.
It's a trade-off, it you need a tyre right away then you may need to shop offline, but if you have the time, I would highly recommend buying online, it's easy, you get what you want without pressure from salesmen and you should expect to be able to save money.
About the Author The Insider works within the tyre industry which is why he/she can't reveal his name. As a former Marketing Manager with a major national tyre chain he/she publishes his consumer advice on tyres on http://www.tyrereview.co.uk
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