Black Friday. Cyber Monday. The thrill of getting a fantastic rock bottom deal. You know.
In recent years, I've noticed a few tricks that retailers use to offer low prices on popular items such as big screen TVs.
Products Aren't Always What They Seem
Black Friday ads are anything but straightforward. Some are even deceptive. Always read the fine print. In order to provide fab Black Friday prices, some manufacturers produce ‘Black Friday' models.
Many of these products are not the same quality as one would expect.
Let's say you're in love with Brand X, and you decide to buy a 65-inch Brand X TV. You see an ad offering it for $300 less than the normal price.
Naturally, you get ready to pounce because who wouldn't want to save $300 on something that you were planning to buy anyway?
But buyer beware. Find the model number of the Brand X TV in the ad and make sure that it’s the same as the model number of the TV you think you're buying. If it isn't, chances are modifications were implemented to make the Black Friday TV cheaper. Either that or it could be an older model.
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Most of the time, this means that the cheaper TV will lack some features like extra HDMI ports or potentially could have a worse quality picture.
Still, if you're willing to accept the changes between the usual model and the Black Friday model, you can save a significant amount of money. In fact, I did just that when we bought our big-screen TV. The TV we bought was missing one HDMI port, but I personally don't care.
I'd rather save the few hundred dollars and buy the Black Friday model.
The same exercise can be done for many expensive products, especially electronics. If the model number isn't listed in the ad, you can try to call the store and ask if they have it.
You don't have to worry about cheaper Black-Friday-only models as much with big brands like Apple, but always double check to make sure. A few minutes of research could save you a great deal of disappointment.
…Or They May Not Be The One You Want
Most people know that with the amazing Black Friday deals, only a few of the sale items are available. In order to make sure that you get what you want you'll have to show up bright and early and wait in line.
Even when you do, there is no guarantee that you'll get what you want. To increase your odds, call the store in advance and ask them how many of each item they will have.
My wife and I did this a couple of years ago when we were buying our TV. We arrived at Wal-Mart early and found the line for the TV we wanted. My wife got in line while I asked how many they had available at the store. The associate mentioned that they had 30 available. Thankfully, my wife was number 28 in line.
Remember to Value Your Time
If you want to make sure that you're getting a killer deal on Black Friday, don’t forget the value of your time. Once you consider that, many of the small savings simply aren't worth it.
It doesn't make sense to wait in line for three hours to save $50 on a video game system if you could earn more money doing something productive with those three hours.
Of course, Black Friday shopping is fun for some people. So if you're one of those people, go ahead and wait in your favorite line. I'll be the one sitting at home unless I'm saving more money than my time is worth.
There are good deals available on Black Friday. You just need to make sure you do your research to figure out which ones are actually worth it.