Treatment from Dealers…
I have embarked on my first determined effort to buy a new computerized sewing machine. I have more than 15 years of serious quilting experience. I expect to spend $1000-$1500. I expect to test each machine of interest pretty thoroughly, as this is an expensive purchase and a commitment for some time to come.
To me, “testing” means: examining all the special features; straight stitching; even feed stitching; free motion quilting. I expect to have a salesperson answer my questions and enable me to test appropriate machines on my own quilt that I bring with me.
My question: is this too much to ask? My experience so far has been miserable. I have gotten the ‘hard sell’ at two stores where they tried to sell me $2400 machines and argued with me over what they believed my ‘needs’ were. Another store just called and informed me they had ‘already spent a lot of time with me’ (less than one hour on a Bernina), and that they would not be able to accommodate my testing any Brother or Viking models they sell.
I am baffled and completely discouraged. Has anyone had similar experiences? Any advice? I am running out of options. By the way, I live in Westchester County, NY. Thanks for any insight!
Try Creative Sewing in Nanuet near the mall on Middletown Road. Ron Linhart and his wife Diane own the shop and his brother Chris also has a "sister" Creative Sewing in Paramus, NJ. They are Pfaff Dealers. They have been in business for years and have quite a satisified following.
I have bought both a sewing machine and a serger from Ron - he is the best - both at helping you choose and providing unlimited followup training. I have the top of the line Pfaff Creative machine with all the accessories including the new Fabric Mover with Stitch Regulator.
Their website is http://www.creativesewingshops.com
28 North Middletown Road - Nanuet, NY - 845-623-4313
It's worth crossing the Tappan Zee and checking them out!
My jaw dropped when I read about the dealer calling you to say you couldn't test any other of their machines! I hope you have plenty of other dealers to choose from! And I would inform the makers of Brother and Viking about the dealer's attitude. A purchase of that sort demands testing and comparison. Good luck.
That's ridiculous! Stick to your guns - you are right. You need to do lots of testing to determine the machine best suited to your needs. It is the only way. And no one else but you can do this. A good dealer, one that you will develop a long-term relationship with, will understand and do his/her best to accommodate you in your search.
That is just plan nuts! People test drive cars more than once before they buy. I am like you when I was shopping for a new machhine 3 years ago I turned up with different types of fabric and a quilt muslin. The dealer I bought my machine from listened to my needs showed me the machines she thought I would be interested in and left me to play - it was great AND because I felt guilty replacing my perfectly good older machine I went back a few times over a 12 month period - got to know them quite well heehee.
I did go to other dealers but they always seemed to want to show/demonstrate to me and then sit with me will I tired a few functions and I certainly wasn't encouraged to go home think about it and come back again.
So... eventually I bought a machine and got a really good deal - perhaps they wanted to get rid of me haunting the shop :) Now I try and buy my needles etc from them 'cause I get good service and a cheery people to chat to.
Thank you all for your input! I was feeling really discouraged. It is good to know that other people take this task seriously too, I'm not crazy! (Oh--forgot to mention, a dealer in my county told me "I have NEVER had anyone bring their own quilt to test the machines on.") Sigh.
I like the advice about informing the manufacturers about this problem. I will certainly do that.
Hi Leslie,Did they think you were trying to finish your quilt and that was the only reason you were there? That is the only reason I could think of that they would act so rude. People have got to realize that for most of us, that kind of money doesn't just grow on trees, in our backyard. I hope you get the exact machine you want and need. Good luck.Marcy
You know, the quilt I am using for testing is one I slopped together for testing purposes only, AND I have written notes all over it! Clearly not a keeper.
This whole business sort of reminds me of when I tried to buy a car 15 years ago. When I went alone, not easy. When my dad came with me, well, they were more than happy to let me test drive.
I wonder if they don't take me seriously?!?! It's a mystery. It's not like I'm a kid!
I once had a stupid salesman wanting me to sign for a car before he told me the price! We show a film to our salesmen about having only on chance to make a good impression. Most people don't come back and say how their business was lost because of something you did or didn't do, they just don't come back. Marcy
We went to a car showroom, recently, to look at a particular model - which we stated to the salesman at the beginning of our discussion. He then proceeded to show us every other model BUT the one we had asked to see - and all were larger and more expensive, of course.
What he didn't now was that it was our daughter-in-law who was in charge of customer relations in that company!! I think he got an earful from her when she heard the story!!!
I hope he did and he should get an earful. That is so ridiculous. Some men think that women are that dumb and I am beginning to believe that they are really dumb for thinking that way.Marcy
Well, thank you all for your shopping horror stories. I think I will print this whole thread out and mail it with a cover letter to the stores/salesmen who mistreated me!
Hi Leslie,Hope you don't mind me jumping in but I loved our comment about printing out this whole thread and sending it to that dealer and then add and this is why I won't be back! I have to say Customer service is huge and you are not alone!! I love my dealer and they are wonderful. Because of the service I have gotten and not the pressure I return and return and keep on coming back. Case in point I bought my Daughter for Christmas 2 years ago a Sewing machine the very bottom of there machines it was on sale and I thought perfect.( you know this is the machine really that they advertise just to get you in there) But I love my gal and she sat with me and said honestly to me "you know she will out grow this real fast." I said yes however it is in my budget right now so she didn't argue and just sold it to me with a smile and said you know you will have full trade in value for the year!! Well guess what I did upgrade the machine before that time was up when my budget could afford it and I saw that my daughter loved to sew and was having fun with it!! But I come back because I know she will sell me and give me honesty but not pressure!! It just sickens me to hear all the stories that dealers (maybe they aren't sewers) do with customer service. It's not about that one time sale it is about keeping a wonderful customer for life!! And growing with that person as the needs change!! You need to print that out and take with you or quote me baby!! Keep on Keeping on in your quest!! Your perfect machine and dealer is out there and you are doing all the things right!!Connie
I have had a probably a 30 year relationship with the dealer I have bought machines from - I have over the years purchased at least 6 machines from same store and not all for myself - I've gotten 2 sergers, several 2nd hand machines, and several new machines at least one for a daughter-in-law - I most recently spent several months with consultations about replacing 2 of my older machines with one new self threading machine and it was the owner who talked me out of an expensive embroidery machine into a machine similar to my Singer 401A (that I loved and worked to death) that would thread itself and had many optional stitches so I can still do free hand embroidery which I will do before I follow a pattern on a machine - owner knew what I was wanting to do and what kind of machine would work for me. If I had had the kind of treatment from sales people that you had I wouldn't be sewing - or I would have written nasty emails or letters to the assorted manufacturers letting them know that the customer is not getting adequate treatment and this does not make one inclined to buy the product now or in the future.
Cree9, I think you hit the nail on the head when it comes to customer service. The sales person or dealer will have customers come back for repeat service if the customer came away from the store with what they wanted and needed in the first place. The sales person or dealer is there for you..and asks "How may I help you". It sounds like your dealer did this..he helped you several times. You said that he knew you and what your needs were. He paid attention to you and your needs. He helped you and you were a repeat satisfied customer.
Well, this thread just keeps getting better and better!
In the end, I have visited seven different dealers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pittsburgh, PA! 2 were great, 5 were awful. As someone else also mentioned, I was appalled at how many salespeople were not able to work the machines, or didn't have (or refused to get) the attachments that I wanted to try, such as free motion feet or walking feet. Get this: one lady did not want to attach the foot pedal for me because she said the start/stop button was fine, and you never need the foot pedal!!!????? She also would not attach a walking foot saying "They all work the same." Then she finished with "Shall I wrap it up for you?"
Thank you for all your stories! I think I have made a decision, so hopefully things will work out.
Keep me posted on your final decision. Always want to know where the good people are in the "neighborhood." Thanks. Z
I'm looking for a machine in Pittsburgh. Which dealers did you try? Which seemed the best to you?
I liked your post about your experiences in test driving cars. I had much the same a few years ago - salesmen (and I use the gender specific reference intentionally) were very patronising when I went on my own, but much more communicative when I took my husband along - although then they spoke to him rather than me (although it was my chequebook!)
To make a profit selling sewing machines nowadays must be hoping to bully customers into buying them, but I doubt many serious sewers are buying on impulse! I had a similar experience trying to buy a replacement built-in microwave. One salesman said, "No one ever cooks in a microwave; they just reheat things," right after I told him that I've integrated microwave cooking into my conventional cooking for years. Although I wanted to patronize a local dealer, I left immediately, drove two hours to another store and bought their top-of-the line model, which has pleased me ever since. Now that I need to replace my far more expensive oven and dishwasher, guess where I'm going first?Maybe the dealers are hoping that expensive sewing and embroidery machines are like personal training equipment--impulse buys that consumers won't return because they feel guilty about not using them?
You are doing exactly the right thing. "Test-driving" is the only way to know if a machine will suit you.The sales commission factor makes many clerks pushy, but you can tell them that you know what you need to look for, and that if they do not accommodate you, then it's no sale at all, which equals no commission: Their choice.
I had a similar situation some years ago when I was looking for a new machine. I tried out several machines very briefly at the store and then the dealer insisted that I immediately make up my mind which one I wanted to purchase. He said it wouldn't make any difference which one I chose because, after all, I could just exchange it for another (of course this assumed that the purchases were made at his dealership). His attitude annoyed me sufficiently that I ultimately decided I wouldn't buy any machine from him, and ended up purchasing a used machine from a private party. Don't dealers realize that their tactics are counterproductive?
Perfect. I'll practice being tough in front of the mirror tonight. :)
I think this is why the readers suggest the dealer is a really important part of what you consider when buying a new machine. You ask yourself, is this a person I can trust/work with if I need repairs or have problems? If they treat a POTENTIAL customer that way..how would they treat you after they got your money? With an expensive item you plan to keep a long time, I think it's a really important factor. I've NEVER been treated that way. I haven't taken a quilt, but I did take identical pieces of fabric to each store and then compare them when making my decision. No one acted at all surprised that I would want try my own fabrics. I hope you can find other dealers in your area to work with. Good luck.
Poor customer service is not acceptable . . . and the best way to help illuminate the people/dealers that fall short is to beat feet to the door . . . on the other hand, the remarkable people/dealers need to be talked up to give them visibility.
I worked for a nationwide fabric store that also sold sewing machines . . . the manager of the store use to chastise me for working with people to test drive sewing machines. She thought it was a waste of time. I thought it was critical to make sure they had a chance to get a feel for the machine . . . and also for me to make sure the machine would meet their needs.
I recently had a similar experience . . . I was considering the purchase of an embroidery-only machine . . . Based upon preliminary research, I thought the Janome 300E/350E would fit my needs. I went to the local Janome dealer . . . nobody there knew how to operate the machine . . . and nearly every question was met with "I don't know, but I'm sure the information is in the instruction manual." One employee even made fun of me for not being as knowledgeable about embroidery machines as I was about sewing machines. And then they were completely bewildered when I tried to politely excuse myself and leave without buying the machine.
The worst experience was an employee at a sewing machine store that practically bullied me . . . I went into buy bobbins for my sewing machine . . . within minutes this employee pounced on me wanting to show me an $8,000 embroidery machine. When I explained I only needed bobbins and that my sewing was mostly limited to sewing garments and other items from fabric I had woven, she replied "Well, it sounds like you're in a rut and need to get out. You'll never get anywhere without staying current with your machines." I was absolutely stunned . . . and left the store immediately without even buying the bobbins.
Hi! One option that can help reward good service people is to ask for a business card from someone who as been very helpful. Explain that if you come back to purchase later, you still want him/her to get credit for the excellent assistance, and ask what you'll need to do to ensure that it happens. Sometimes you can just say who was your primary salesperson, other times you will need to time your return (purchasing) visit for when the helpful person was assisting you. If you have a mixed experience at a single dealership, it's worth letting the owner know that you ultimately decided to buy there based on so-and-so's help, but nearly did not because of such-and-such's behavior. I"m trying to buy a much lower end machine (no quilting, no embroidery, just garments, mostly for my active children). I found the service terrific in one dealership (Huskavarnas only), but Huskavarnas cannot be repaired in the area (only serviced by non-licensed but locally respected repair shops). Does anyone have thoughts on whether that should sway me? This weekend I'll go to the other major dealer with Janomes and many more. Next I'm trying to find the search function so I can look for existing advice about which machine I might want without considering dealer attitudes or ability to repair. Thanks!
I have a Husqvarna Viking and my dealer turned in her dealership, because she is having major health problems. It is so sad because she was a great dealer. I will soon find out about other dealers. The one of two they recommended is 70 miles away. They said he is very good at repairs. I know I would want the dealer or repair person to be able to send the machine back to Husqvarna if they had to and I don't know if a non licensed person could do that. It is good that Husqvarna has it on record if something goes wrong and it is under warranty.Marcy
For basic machines that can be serviced anywhere, it's hard to beat Sears or Singer. My Kenmore is 30 years old and going strong; my friends' newer models from the same sources are effective and hassle-free. In both cases, we picked the simplest models with the fewest "bells & whistles," and the machines are consistently strong and reliable.
When I was looking for an embroidery machine I went to one dealer that would not even plug in the machine so I could see how an embroidery machine worked. If she turn it on it would invalidate the warranty. You have got to be kidding! Thank goodness I found a dealer that would be helpful in the demo, using and maintenance of my machine after I bought one from him. Service is diffinetly one of the most important aspects of buying a machine.
At a car dealer ship I had to threaten to call the police to get my keys back from the apraiser of my car because I was not buying the new car. What an ordeal that was! No car from that dealership and said so when the mgr called a few days later asking why I did not buy.
I have worked for various dealers over the years. One company I worked for had the sewing machine company come in and give us a course on selling sewing machines. It was the typical pushy sales approach disguised with some psycho-babble. As in, don't show the customer what they are asking for, show them the best model and then, supposedly, make them realize that this is what they really need and how much they will be missing if they don't purchase it. I never went along with that tactic (much to the displeasure of my bosses) but I also sold pretty much every machine I ever demonstrated, including the high end ones but only if that was what the customer was looking for. My goal was to sell the customer what they really needed and wanted based on their uses for the machine, their skill level, and their budget.
I also understand the complaints of those who find the dealers don't know the machines. After many years of selling and repairing machines(of many different makes and models), when the dealership I was working for closed down (the one mentioned above), I attempted to get the dealership myself. I know machines inside and out and loved to help a customer find just the right machine and watch them use it successfully. Unfortunately, the dealership was given to someone else who had money (I would have had to borrow money) but little experience sewing and no knowlegde of machines. People would go to buy machines and never get a proper demonstration because no one at the dealership knew how to use any of the machines. In less than a year, they closed down for lack of sales and the sewing machine company said they would not open another store in that city as there "obviously wasn't enough population to support one". They must have forgotten that the owner prior to the first one mentioned, won numerous awards for sales (she also knew her sewing machines well and rejected the high pressure psycho-babble approach).
In my opinion, the bottom line is customer service, not money. The money will come if the customer service is there. I wish the best of success to every dealer who cares more about the customer than how much they're going to make on a sale with as little effort as possible. And I hope that everyone here who is looking, is able to find an honest dealer who cares. Even if it means a few more miles to travel, it is worth it.
I should also mention that when I repaired machines for another dealer, I was told not to repair any older machines or machines of a different brand. I was to tell the customer that their machine could not be fixed and they would have to buy another one, then I was to sell them a new one. After 3 months of successfully repairing every machine that came in, regardless of age or brand, I was told in no uncertain terms that I would be fired if I continued to do so. I told them that I would have to lie to follow their policy and therefore, I quit.
What a great story. I am sad for you, but glad that dealership went under. I feel like marching around with a sign in front of these store telling customers to run away!
What you said about the sales tactics in the first paragraph hit the nail on the head. My dealers must have had the same training. After showing me the pricey model with many more features than I will EVER use, one woman tried to convince me that someday I might want to do embroidery and/or use a stitch regulator. No amount of talking could convince her that I will never use those features. It's great for many people, but like Amish people won't use electricity, I know I won't use those features! Who knows me better--her or me? And who wants to go shopping and have to argue with the salespeople about what they want?!
And how said that they tried to get you to tell people their old machines were irreparable. Old machines are precious!
Just curious: do you work in the sewing machine industry any more?
No, unfortunately I don't. I loved it but after my final experience with the major sewing machine company who gave the dealership to someone with no experience (and, incidently, with a sneering suggestion that I just repair their machines), I became discouraged and haven't picked it up since. There is much more to the story than what I have given and it was a truly bad experience!) Unfortunately, I think they have the greatest machines but I will never buy another one and would be very reluctant to ever recommend one.
Your story could also be told by mechanics and computer techs who work for large firms that sell the same products they "service." My husband has done both and tells all kinds of horror stories about being pressured into raising the bottom line by forcing customers to buy new or replacement cars or machines, and then, if the customer was dissatisfied, the company would take a percentage out of his pay for doing what they had required him to do. It was impossible to provide good customer service under those conditions, and the bad customer service made it impossible for the service unit to break even-- a vicious cycle that goes on and on beause no one would accept responsiblity.Fortunately, he now works for himself, follows his own ethics, and has a loyal following of customers who appreciate his concern for their time and needs. When looking a dealer or service person, make sure to follow your instincts and buy only from those you feel you can trust!
I have had much the same experience with purchasing both sewing machines and cars! On my last car purchase, my male friend went along with me, and we very clearly said I was buying/paying the car for myselfas soon as we walked in the door. The salesman talked almost exclusively to my friend for the first 5 minutes. I then piped up, reinforced WHO was buying the car and insisted on dealing with another salesperson. No trouble after that!
About 12 months ago I bought my first serger. I went to several of my local sewing stores to look/learn/try out. I found that most of the salespeople didn't know/couldn't demonstrate the various models in their stores very well. I had a good idea of the type of sewing I wanted to use it for, the $ budget available, and brought sample fabrics with me. At one store, they insisted I "needed" a BabyLock serger with the "exclusive jet-air threading" at nearly 3X my budget figure. The entire experience turned me off completely! So, I did a lot of reading, including "How to Use Your Serger" books, and bought one online from a dealer in Texas. I also bought a lot of serger thread, accessories and the P/P serger combo DVD with all the money I saved and have done very well by myself, thank you!
BTW, I'm a former salesrep (technical scientific equipment) and if I had EVER treated my customers like this, I never would have sold all the product that I did - or earned the nice money I did. I was absolutely appalled by these people!!!!! Stick to your guns and insist on good customer service - or immediately walk out the door to preserve your sanity!!
I'm in on the end of this discussion but just had to add a thought or two. My first job out of high school over 40 years ago was at a Singer dealership....I quit because of the "pushy" sales technique that the manager wanted me to follow.
I've been in various types of sales over the years and was always successful because I listened to the client and offered what he or she needed.....
My beloved Kenmore, which I purchased from the Sears catalogue in 1986 after researching Consumer Reports, finally needed to be replaced (it's still in my closet).
A couple of years ago I purchased a New Home HF5024 on sale at 60% off at Hancock Fabrics. I read several on line reviews before making the purchase and bought it because the price was right and I needed to finish a project. I really liked the features and now use it as my backup machine. About 6 months ago, I decided to purchase a computerized machine. I stopped in the local Husqvarna dealer who had been recommended by a friend. Ater I told her my desires (a good machine for garment sewing and fabulous buttonholes) she proceeded to demonstrate the buttonholer on a high-end machine. After, I told her that it was above my budget, she pointed to a lesser priced machine and walked away. I left and went to the local Janome dealer and explained my needs and she demo'd the DC3050. She did try to encourage me to buy right then because the "$200 off sale was winding down and it was the last machine in stock." I thanked her firmly and returned 3 days later to purchase the machine. I have been quite satisfied with it and because Janome makes New Home, all of the feet which came with the New Home fit the Janome.
(I once called ahead to an auto dealership 50 miles from where I lived, to confirm they had the type of car with a 5 speed transmission before going in for a test drive. Upon arriving at the dealership, I was told they only had automatics on the lot and suggested I drive one. As I was climbing into my pickup truck to leave, the sales manager came running out the door and said he would have exactly what I wanted the next day if I would come back....I did and I bought it!)
Hi SewFit,I'm surprised you went back after they said they had the 5 speed and they didn't. People can be so careless with your time. Fifty miles is a lot of time to drive there and back. I'm glad they had the model you wanted when you went back.Marcy
I don't know where you are in the Pgh area, but I went to a place in Murrysville, near Monroeville, but I don't know the name. They were absolutely wonderful. Knew all about the different models and how to use them, not pushy, completely helpful and not impatient at all. (I truly wanted to buy a machine from them!) They sell Babylock and Pfaff. In Monroeville I went to the Viking dealership at Joann Fabrics. The saleslady was totally incompetant but nice. In the end I bought a Viking at the Joann Fabrics at the Palisades Mall where they were knowlegable and friendly and not pushy.
Thanks, Leslie. I'm in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh. The Babylock/Pfaff dealer is Thornton Company. I agree, they are generally very knowledgeable. The Viking dealer in the Monroeville JoAnns is Gloria Horne. She also has a store in another JoAnn Fabrics and a freestanding store in the South Hills. She is generally very good but her sales people seem to leave a lot to be desired. What made you decide on the Viking? Which model did you get? I've had two Vikings (#6460 from 1977 and #1 from 1993) and am considering a Designer SE. I'm also going to look at Bernina and Janome. Joyce Singer
I am glad you also like the people at Thornton! I decided on the Viking Platinum 755Q. It came down to that or the Babylock Quilter's Edition. I also tested Bernina, Janome, Pfaff and Brother machines. (Pfaff I did not like the controls; Janome I did not like the motor hesitation on the foot control and small work space; Bernina I did not like the extension table and it just didn't do it for me, considering the price).
I agonized over the Babylock and the Viking. I tested both machines at least twice. The Babylock had all the features I ever wanted and more: knee lift for presser foot, sideways stitching, super easy needle threader, thread cutter, infinitely variable motor speed setting.
However, I realized that the thread cutter feature doesn't work so well for me, because I do free motion quilting so prefer to pull the bobbin thread to the surface. After testing, the sideways sewing wasn't what I thought it would be. In the end I thought, how much do I care about a fancy needle threader?
After reading as many sewing machine reviews as I could find, it seemed that the Viking was considered by many to be much more reliable than the Babylocks. I also never found a nice dealer where I could even purchase a Babylock! So, in the end I choose the Viking and the only important thing I really sacrificed was the presser foot knee lift. And for that I feel that I'm getting a reliable machine and a friendly helpful dealer. I just wish it had that knee lift! :)
Hi,I don't think you were trying to send this to me.Marcy
I think the previous thread was meant for you, the one about Pittsburgh area.
To join in the discussion, I hate pushy salespeople so I try not to be that way when I am selling. I let my enthusiasm for the product show, though. I think if you like a product it helps sell it. I can't imagine telling anyone it would invalidate the warranty for them to turn on the machine, nor can I imagine not letting them try it with the feet and the power cord etc.. some stores forget that without customers, there IS no bottom line..
Having worked for a dealership for 13 years, I, too, was stunned to read those comments! How that store is even in business would be a mystery. Customer service is key and most of the advice you've read so far is right on. I always encouraged people to bring in samples of whatever they were working on or most likely use. It was one of the best ways to focus in on what my customers "needs" were. One of the easiest was a customer who was frustrated trying to sew a vinyl type fabric for rainwear. The dual feed feature on one of our brands was the perfect solution. Then, Good luck! when she realized there were many options within that line, she had a ball and we got a great customer. Keep going until you find a good one that you're comfortable with-they should want to answer your questions, offer hands-on operator lessons AFTER purchase as well as fun, interest-based classes to keep you using your new machine and have a good repair person readily available.
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