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4 Reasons to Try Before You Buy

May 11 2011

car breakdownWould you purchase a car without test driving it? Would you buy a pair of pants without trying them on? We follow the rule of "try before you buy" every day without even thinking about it. Of course, we should follow that same sound principal when we're purchasing an important business tool. That's why I'm thrilled to see many tech companies offering this option.

Why a Trial Period is Important

It's not only small start-ups who feel the need to offer the option to test drive their products. Market leaders like Apple and Amazon are exploring this tactic for their smartphone apps. In the world of real estate technology, smart companies like CoreLogic® are catching on to the trend. They offer a 90-day free trial of their AgentAchieve™.

The response to "try before you buy" has been overwhelmingly positive with consumers, and it's easy to see why.

1. Personal Preference Differs from Public Opinion

We're bombarded with so many technology products; it's difficult to hear through the noise. In the past, we read reviews, talked to our friends, and trusted experts for recommendations. But technology is very much like a car or a pair of pants in that personal preference determines success. It's very likely that you may not like the same products as your friends or the experts. Of course, some products are just plain "good" and a more universal crowd pleaser, but even these have their naysayers.

2. Implementing New Technology Takes Time

When you begin to use new technology in your personal life or in your business, you're looking at more than just a financial expense – you're also looking at an investment in time. Even the simplest products require some trial and error. If a product isn't working for you, you may be able to get your money back, but you'll never recoup your time. And if you've purchased that product, you're more likely to wrestle with it longer. You feel invested (and you are). With a trial period, you're streamlining your learning curve, making it easy to cycle through multiple products in less time.

3. Narrowing Your Criteria

Even if the product you try doesn't work for you, you'll have gained valuable knowledge to help you on your search. You can begin to make a list of "Features I Like" and "Features I Don't Like." This will help you narrow your search, enabling you rule out products.

4. Some Problems Appear Gradually

Very frequently, problems don't reveal themselves on the maiden voyage of a product. It's only after time and circumstance that they begin to come out of the woodwork. If you've purchased a product, it may be too late for a return or you may have invested so much time that you're hesitant to scrap it. That's why longer-term trial periods can be particularly beneficial.

Read the Fine Print

Businesses may have some fine print when it comes to their "try before you buy" offers. What I particularly want you to be aware of is whether or not you're signing up for some sort of service you will have to opt-out of. When this is the case, the company is in essence assuming that you will love their product and will want to purchase it after the trial period is over. When you sign (or click) the "try before you buy" contract, you're agreeing to this and you will have to contact the company at the end of the trial period to let them know you're not interested. Fail to do this and you'll be getting a bill next month.

I'm not saying these opt-in clauses should be a deal breaker, just that you need to be aware so you can avoid confusion or unnecessary expense.