More ways to try before you buy

November 1st, 2011 by Sandra Barron

In the market for ... ? Ocarina lets potential buyers road-test appliances.

Not sure if you need a fancy single-serve coffee maker in your kitchen or if a Roomba scooting around would freak out the dog? Now you can try out expensive home appliances before buying them at Ocarina Rental. Products include the vacuuming robot Roomba, Dyson’s bladeless fan and Gopan, the briskly selling breadmaker that uses rice instead of flour.

The basic rental period is five days and prices range from about ¥2,000 to ¥5,000. Rental can be extended for as long as two months. There is no deposit, but unlike most online shopping in Japan, the only way to pay is by credit card. The delivery driver checks your ID with your first delivery.

Users say they like the service not only to see if, say, the homemade bread is good and easy to make but also to see how well the breadmaker will fit on their kitchen counter. One commenter on the site said she had rented the breadmaker to see if the sound it makes grinding up the rice would be too noisy for a small apartment.

It’s not all cooking and cleaning — there are a few tech toys on the takeout menu, too. The Parrot quadrocopter, a remote-control styrofoam hovercraft piloted by iPhone or iPad, is coming soon. Eyeclops night-vision goggles will also be available later this month, too.

While detailed specs for all products are listed on the site, one thing not listed is the purchase price. The fact that some products can be purchased is buried in the FAQs. The focus is on the trying, not the buying.

“Ladies’ Beauty Lounge” Cluxta has the same philosophy. At this brightly lit space in Ikebukuro Station (as well as in Fukuoka and Sapporo),  women can pop in to freshen up with all kinds of beauty products. They can use hair-styling implements like curling or straightening irons and choose from a full line of makeup and hair-care products. For additional fees, there are skin improvement machines like steamers and rollers. None of the makeup or appliances is available for sale, which they say prevents people from feeling the pressure to buy something that you might get at a cosmetics counter.

Furniture store Simple Style, which acknowledges that it’s hard to tell by looking at a website whether a mattress will be a good fit, offers a 30-day trial period on their bedding. Many home-delivery food services have discounted trial offers, which range from free delivery to half off the price of a box of farm-fresh produce or prepared foods. The website Cowboy Blend compares trial offers and highlights the best values.

Finally, the website Tryfeel aggregates trial offers from restaurants, spas, beauty salons and exercise studios into a searchable database online and on a smartphone app. They’ve eliminated from their “tryfeel collection” places that require a contract or membership to get the trial offer so that users can check out a pilates class without worrying about getting roped into a long-term commitment. Why not give these offers a test drive?

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One Response

  1. very friendly visit from Turkey :)
    discovering Japanese blogs

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