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Oct 30, 2005
Oct 30, 2005
Make the Movement to Improvements.
In my experience buying an item online from an unfamiliar or untried retailer can be a crapshoot ending in a great experience or snake eyes. Even dealing with a well-known site can be iffy as is evidenced by the mixed reviews on this site and others. My latest online shopping adventure began with a fireplace cleaning and a technician who recommended getting a fireback or heat reflector to increase the heat output of our prefab, wood burning fireplace. No local dealers carried these so the Googling began.
I soon learned that this was not an easy to find item, but finally narrowed my search to three sites, Improvements(HSN Improvements LLC) and two other businesses specializing in fireplaces, wood stoves, and their accessories. The heat reflector on the Improvementssite was the least expensive option. I emailed a question to one of the other sites, but didnt receive a reply until a week later. In the meanwhile I found a fireback on Ebay identical to the one on Improvements. Replies to my emails from two winning bidders were favorable about this particular item Thus my decision was made; Improvementswas my site of choice.
Customers may order from this company from the paper and ink catalog or online. The printed ImprovementsCatalog may be ordered online and be delivered to the customers mailbox. After several failed attempts I ordered this catalog. It was pretty straight forward, but I couldnt complete the order until I agreed to receive a second catalog called Domestications. I agreed on the third attempt, and my order was processed. Now I can look forward to being domesticated. The printed catalog may be viewed online. A website catalog with over 1700 items available 24 hours a day is also accessible. This is the one from which I ordered. The ImprovementsCatalog began in 1992 to offer homeowners products that make life less of a hassle around the home, yard and car Its packed with easy-to-use products for home repair and maintenance, kitchen and bath, organization and storage, cleaning, gardening, safety, automotive, and many items uniquely engineered by the Improvements staff.
My Impressions of the Site
At first I was a little leery about buying from a site not specializing in fireplace accessories. I soon lost all reservations while exploring the easy to navigate site and was impressed by the sheer volume, variety and reasonable pricing. On the left of the home page screen is a list of clickable departments: Holiday, Club Specials, Exclusives, Indoor, Outdoor, Storage, Electrical and Lighting, Pet, Cleaning, Pest, Safety and Security, Gifts, My Improvements. At the top of the screen a shopper may click on: Whats New, Whats on Sale, Outlet Mall, $9.99 Problem-Savers. Each of these topics has pull down menus also. Clicking on Exterior Maintenance, Gutters and Downspout Accessories one finds 19 items: mesh gutter screens, gutter rake, splash block, water snake, gutter creatures, gutter screws, rain drain among others. The items are unique, seem useful and are reasonably prices.
Some shopping sites dont reveal postage until check out and after shipping and credit card information have been typed in. I like that on this site shipping charges are straightforward, based on the merchandise total and can be accessed at any time by clicking on a hot link for shipping. Fees range from $4.70 to $15.80.
My Buying Experience
After lots of consideration and hand wringing I decided on which fireback to order. The item was very easy to find and ordering was almost effortless. After clicking buy I received a thank you within minutes. The next day I received another email detailing my purchase and shipping information. For this product shipping was $9 with a $6 additional fee for an oversized item. This didnt seem unreasonable. In less than a week from the day I ordered the fireback, the item arrived in the mail, well packaged and in perfect condition. It was exactly as described, of sturdy construction, and my only disappointment was that I hadnt ordered the larger model for twenty dollars more. This was my own fault for being too conservative. All in all, this was a very positive experience, so much so that I have bookmarked the Improvement site for future browsing. Though I chose to order via the website, I could have ordered by calling the toll free number, faxing, or mailing in my order to Improvements.
Improvements Plus Buyers Club
When placing an order with Improvements, an offer is made to take advantage of their Buyers Club. I seriously considered it, but ultimately declined. In hindsight I dont think Id been sorry had I said yes. The fee for opting to join the Buyers Club is $30
. By joining the customer gets free delivery of the days order. (does not include the extra $6 fee I paid for an oversized item.
Three savings coupons worth $10 each for future orders are included.
A bonus Dryer trap lint brush ($12.99 value) is included in the deal.
The buyer gets advanced notice of select e-mail promotions.
An exclusive toll-free hotline for priority ordering and customer service is provided.
Members save 10% additional on items with the Buyers Club symbol.
I would definitely shop here again. The product choices and prices are very good. Navigating the site is easy, and there is a liberal return policy. 100% PRODUCT GUARANTEE: If youre not satisfied with your purchase, let us know and well make it right. Within 60 days, well gladly replace it, refund your money (excluding delivery charges) or credit you for other items.
No preapproval for return is required. Labels with prepaid postage and bar codes are included with the packing invoice making any returns easy and convenient. Returned items must be shipped in the original container with the provided packing slip.
Buying from the Improvementssite was a positive experience, even for this tightwad. Its worth a visit, and even if no purchase is made, this is a nice place to do some casual Window-shopping.