Internet sales are increasing all the time, but buying some things online is just not a good idea.
Take kayaks, for instance. You should never buy a kayak online because kayaks are very personal in nature. The correct model will be dictated partly by the purpose for it, whether it will be used for speed, stability, fishing, rivers vs. lakes, etc. But your personal height, weight, width and need for comfort will dramatically affect how the boat feels and performs. An expert sales person can be critical to making a good decision, and you will probably be allowed to try it in the water.
Now, you could use that sales person’s expertise to decide which kayak is right for you, then turn around and buy it online to save a few dollars. But that behavior sucks!! You should reward the sales person, and that brick & mortar business for their service. They pay local taxes and provide local jobs. You can buy from what I call “the cheapest whore” on the internet (pardon me), but he doesn’t care at all about you and has done nothing but make a few dollars off someone else’s work.
In my opinion gun safes and vault doors are other things that should not be bought over the internet, for some of the same reasons. While gun safes obviously are not affected by aerodynamics and buoyancy in water, their construction details are critically important to security. There is more to it than can be shown with a few pictures. An in-person conversation with a knowledgeable safe expert will be immensely helpful, compared to buying something online just based on price.
Most folks don’t know anything about buying a gun safe. They may try to research online, but the majority of what is found there is wrong and misleading anyway. Often a friend tells them which brand of safe they bought, but that friend probably doesn’t really know what he bought either. For some people the next step is to look online for the cheapest place to buy that same model the friend bought.
I recently stumbled across a website where they sell over twenty brands of gun safes. Most brands that you have heard about are supposed to be in stock, and I am sure that their price is pretty good. It has to be, because they make their sales by being “the cheapest whore”. But here is the issue: While some of these gun safes are good, most are cheap, inferior Chinese products. Some come from the same Chinese factories and the primary difference is the name on the front of the safe. Some of the brands being sold advertise a certain thickness of steel but actually use thinner steel than advertised. (The importers don’t know what to say when confronted by someone with a micrometer who actually measures thickness.) Some of these brands use recycled pieces of drywall for insulation. I have been told by one of the importers that he knows the fire ratings are bogus, and that some have never been tested. Many have inferior locks. Etc., etc.
Here is the point to my rambling: This particular internet seller — and others who may operate the same way – are they ignorant of what they are selling or do they just choose to lie about what they are selling? In either case do they deserve your hard-earned dollars? If they actually cared about their customer, wouldn’t they make a value judgement about what they sell? For instance, “Brand A and brand B are the same product except for the name on front. Brand C is almost exactly the same price as A and B, but it has a more secure boltworks. So my decision is to sell C but not A or B.” Or “I know that brand X costs slightly less than brand Z, but I know that X lies about the amount of steel they use, so I will sell only Z”. Doesn’t honesty count for anything?
Yes, low price is important to many people. Even at the low end, however, some products have more value at the same price. If a mis-informed customer wants to buy a Brand Q gun safe the easiest thing is to sell it to him and make a few bucks. A better thing to do is suggest something in the same price range that offers more security or a legitimate fire rating. The best thing to do is not even carry the safe with the worst value proposition.
I choose not to sell any low-end gun safes at all, because I won’t risk our reputation by selling inferior products. Appearance becomes more important at the high end, but the same value principle applies to expensive vaults. Appearances aside, if there are three different models in the $4000 price range, one will offer more security for the money. Shouldn’t an honest, knowledgeable business owner sell that brand, or the two best? Shouldn’t the sales person at least point out which one is better?
Support that local locksmith or safe dealer who takes the time to honestly help you make a good decision, who will point out the best value proposition, rather than just take your money. There is real value in what he does. His overhead is higher because the brick & mortar building is required to provide that service. That is the business to work with, even if it costs a few dollars more.