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Who's the coolest of them all?

Sangeeta Singh in New Delhi | March 29, 2005

If you are juggling between going to Thailand and buying an AC this summer, but have a tight budget, you can actually do both. And if you don't have a passport or don't want to go through visa interviews, you can choose from 27 destinations within India.

Electrolux has announced a scheme whereby if you buy a window or a split AC, you get a two-night-three-days free stay in a three-star plus category hotel in Thailand. And if you want to do a bit of financial planning before leaving, you have six months time.

"The offer is valid on purchase of the AC till 30th April but the holiday package can be availed till 31st October this year," says Sanjeev Wadhwa, general manager, consumer & trade marketing Electrolux India.

LG is also offering a holiday package to locales like Dubai. Besides this, it is also offering gift hampers like a Tata Indicom Walky and discount coupons on LG microwave ovens and vacuum cleaners on select models.

Another option for consumers on a tight budget: if you can do with a little less cooling, or have a smaller living room, you can buy Voltas' sub-one tonne window and split ACs without a remote starting at Rs 10,000.

 "In fact we have slashed prices in the 0.8 tonne category by Rs 500 since we launched them last year. For first-time buyers or for those buying for a study or pooja room, this AC comes in very handy," says K D Virmani, general manager, sales Voltas. Virmani also says that, to compete in the crowded market, Voltas has not made any attempt to raise prices of ACs despite the rise in input costs.

AC players warn consumers who want to avail of the current prices that prices are likely to rise in the near future. Both LG and Electrolux have shown their intention to raise prices by 5-10 per cent beginning April. Despite rises in input costs and fuel prices, major players did not raise prices because of competition.

More so, dealers and retailers are not offering freebies, scratch cards etc, from their side. "We are already operating under wafer thin margins so there are no offerings this year," says a multibrand dealer at Delhi's Lajpat Nagar.

However, he recommends Godrej ACs that have a micron filter, which absorbs very small dust particles. He demonstrates how easily the Godrej filter can be detached and washed more frequently.

And those who can't wait for their rooms to get cooled, Hitachi has a double cooling AC with a two side blower. Rakesh Khanna, senior VP sales, marketing and services, Hitachi Home & Life Solutions, says that the company has worked hard to incorporate the split technology in window ACs, which makes the Quadricool more efficient.

Besides, Hitachi has put in a real time clock to adjust the room temperature according to the city the customer lives in.

For instance, when the AC is being sold in Delhi, Hitachi will programme Delhi's temperature, humidity levels and so on, so that the AC becomes communicative.

And Khanna justifies the high price beginning Rs 23,000: "The turbo technology helps reduce electricity bills by at least 45 per cent, giving customers long-term benefits," he says.

For those who discard having a remote with an AC as sheer luxury only to repent later, Videocon has introduced a scheme of remote upgrade at Rs 500. And if you want to have a mini bar in your room, you can choose the scheme which buys a 50 litre refrigerator along with the AC for Rs 19,990.

And if your AC is not cooling you down enough, Videocon can also offer you a two-night-three-day package to Ooty, Manali or Kodaikanal. But watch out; this offer is only on hotel stay.

For those who want to enter from the air-conditioned ambience of their car to that of their house, one just needs to press some buttons on one's mobile.

You can also ask for a specific temperature. Electrolux's Teleconnect AC has this prompt technology and, according to Wadhwa, it is a big hit amongst working couples. Besides this, Electrolux has introduced hot and cold ACs at Rs 21,000 onwards.

Haier, which entered the market mainly through split ACs is launching its windows ACs with a 4-stage air filter next week at a price of around Rs 19,000. Haier entered the market only last year and is not offering any discounts, deals or freebies.

Some dealers are also not very happy with the companies making these offers. "While companies make their offers, we have to execute them. Like in the case of holiday packages, where LG started this drama. The customers bother us when the holiday companies or the consumer goods companies don't comply. Besides, there are so many riders which the customers understand only later and feel cheated," says a Delhi-based dealer.

So what's the plan? Go ahead and check out the schemes. But beware -- the freebies and offers may not be available with all the models.

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