Reputation/Ask Around: First ask around broadly in your sewing groups, and get some dealer names and recommendations on brands and models. Keep in mind that most will know about the machine they own and whom they purchased it from. They will likely recommend the dealer they purchased from (or not), but ask them (1) who else did they consider and speak with and (2) why did they chose their particular dealer to buy over another. Also don't ask or try to drill down in a public online forum; instead take the conversation offline via a PM as they are likely to be more honest when discussing privately.
Trust Your Instincts: When you see or speak with a dealer, what do your instincts tell you about your interaction with them -- did they "feel" honest, were they patient about providing detailed answers, knowledgeable and able to answer your questions, and seemed to care about getting you with the right machine for your needs.
Helps You Make Decision: Was the dealer patient with you and interested in helping you make the right choice in a machine based on your needs and your budget. In addition to the machine head, will they walk you through motor options and explain why they may recommend want to sell a particular motor with a machine or for your needs. Will they speak to the quality of the table top, and discuss and offer legs/with wheels at a price that is worth the up-charge.
Delivery & Assembly Arrangements: Are they honest about how delivery works, and can they offer you any shipping options to save money. Do they charge extra for assembly, and exactly what does "assembly" mean (how many boxes, what do you have to do/lift yourself versus what is actually already done in the assembly, etc). I believe that most dealers do not mark up shipping, but shipping costs can vary depending on the distance the machine has to travel from the dealer to you and how remote your address is.
Pricing Transparency: This is not about the "lowest price" but the most transparent one. Will they provide you with a detailed, broken out written estimate, and explain up-charges for options you may want to consider. In many situations the pricing from one dealer to the next may not be apples to apples and may only seem less expensive, when in fact they might just be packaging a cheaper table, less powerful, or lower-quality Chinese motor. A reputable dealer will be transparent about the breakout of their pricing on all the components. If you've drilled down and understand how the dealer is pricing your options and another dealer does seem to be truly less expensive, go with the dealer you believe in and see if he can do something on matching price versus just going with what seems to be the least expensive dealer. Sometimes they can and will. (Keep in mind that some dealers in big cities may have higher rent and overhead, and they may not be able to match pricing.)
- Post Sale Support: Ask how they will support you after purchase, are they available via telephone or email post-sale to help out with issues large or small. What do they guarantee exactly and how do they honor it. If something goes wrong, how will they help fix or resolve it. Will they offer to send you videos, or will they do video calls with you. If they are in your local area, what are their service call fees in the event you need one.
I purchased my Juki 1541s from Sunny Sewing Machines. I would buy from them again, and recommend them based on my personal experience. I get nothing for recommending them, I just think they're great. Below is why I went with them. Their contact info is below.
- Over a 7-month period I went in there once a month, and asked more and more questions as I became more knowledgeable, and they were always patient with me. I started out thinking I wanted the Juki 1181 and then when I decided to go with the 1541, I had to wait longer to save the additional money for the more expensive machine. They never pressured me into the more expensive machine, it was my decision and they simply explained the difference
- They set up machines for me side-by-side so I could test sew on them with different needles, thread and fabric, and did this more than once and never minded doing so.
- Their prices were fair and reasonable, and they don't charge extra for assembly (even when they ship) In fact they prefer to sell assembled because they know then it will be done right.
- They broke out the pricing for me in great detail, their up-charge for my I-leg table with castors was reasonable with a USA-made quality plywood table. (With a heavier industrial model such as mine, table and leg quality was important)
- I wanted a needle-positioning add-on and they offered me the option to choose between two specific motors because they said that with many Chinese motors (even ones they carry) when used with needle positioning they can have faulty electronic compatibility particularly with the LED screens.
- Because I lived in their geographic radius their delivery charge was nominal. However, they delivered my machine fully-assembled "thru-the-door" and set it up in place in my sewing studio and then spent 2-hours with me walking me thru the machine without rushing. I think that is above and beyond!
- I spoke to other local dealers in my area and other out-of-state internet dealers. While being able to buy locally was a major plus, my instincts just told me they were the right dealer for me. They seemed geared to individual buyers like me. But mostly they were forthright and honest about everything, never high-pressure, and extremely patient...and they just went above and beyond to make sure I was happy, and continue to do so post-sale.
Sunny Sewing Machine: (800) 228-0001
- Stephen Hallum, Sales & Customer Service | firstname.lastname@example.org
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- Ms. FiFi, Thread & Notions