Buying a garden fountain or water feature online
Buying on the internet is very convenient, you can view many more designs than you would
find in any garden center but there are perhaps some issues that its best to be aware of.
The first problem is not being able to touch/feel your fountain before you buy. For the most part this can be offset by good pictures of the designs together with accurate descriptions but there is perhaps more of an element of trust involved. Yes you are protected by 'Distance selling regulations' in the UK so if an item is not as described you can usually get your money back but its always better to get what you ordered.
This element of trust not only applies to the actual purchase it extends to the advertising that goes with it and initially draws you to one retailer or another and here there is a huge black hole.
The advertising you find on the web is not controlled in the same way as advertising on TV or newspapers, there is no over seeing authority to keep you safe from wild and inaccurate advertising claims.
For example at the time of writing one retailer claims to 'have 250 water feature designs that no one else has', whether or not they do its hard to say but I doubt it is true, but I cannot spend days trawling through every retailer making a count and comparison. Other claims include things like 'The Uk's Number one retailer', such claims are essentially just 'scams' to draw you into their site rather than a competitor, there is no control over such unsubstantiated claims, as far as such advertising claims goes the internet is more 'wild west' than a modern safe and reliable shopping experience. You only have to look at the search results to see that many of the results are different retailers selling the same products with perhaps small price differences, so competition becomes based on distortion and deception rather than the quality or uniqueness of their products. Such claims are hard to test and there is no way to depend on anyone to verify the accuracy of advertising claims, however if a retailer is willing to engage in this kind of deception what does it say about the level of trust you should give them.
The higher you are on the search listings the better and more reliable are your products???????
Unfortunately the answer is NO
Top placings on the search listings can be bought, retailers bid on them, the highest bidder gets pushed to the top, just because a retailer appears on the first page of search results doesn't mean they have the best products or the cheapest prices, it just means they have paid the most for that position.
The same can be said to some extent for the 'organic' results', these are websites judged by the search engine to be the most useful to your query. In an ideal world yes but in reality such positioning is more a reflection of how successful these sites have been at manipulating the criteria used by search engines to determine 'what is a good site'. Manipulating the search results is a separate industry worth millions of pounds each year, so a websites position in search may be seen more as an indication of the level of funds paid to search optimization companies, this isn't always the case but in the last 10 years I have seen a definite trend for the top search places to be dominated by large companies rather than the smaller independents........what this means is less choice, less diversity and innovation.
The same can be said for many 'price comparison websites', headlines like 'The top ten best water features' is only a tactic to get you to go through them to buy from a retailer who pays them for being included in 'the top ten', it has nothing to do with quality or price.
So be aware its possible that those retailers shouting the loudest with the most extreme claims may not be the best place to buy from, if you consider that huge sums spent on advertising have to be recovered by charging premium prices for the products they sell. So try to look a little further down the search listings, perhaps look for a smaller retailer, give them a ring, see if you can get the best price that way.
Get value for your money
Most retailers make money on the internet by selling other peoples products, this obviously adds an extra cost to the purchase price you pay, some manufactures have their own websites and if you seek them out direct you can sometimes save yourself a considerable amount of money by cutting out the middle man.
Here at kinsman we design and manufacture our own unique range of garden fountains and water features. We don't play games with wild advertising claims, we don't supply other online retailers. We compete only on the quality and price of our products which we think are some of the best you can buy.
I hope the last few pages have been of interest and that you now feel more confident in your search for that fountain or water feature your looking for.