Black Friday is a day of great deals, but it is also one of the easiest days of the year to get caught up in a shopping frenzy and pay too much for a gift or gadget.
I already showed you apps to help you save on Black Friday, but now I want to warn you about popular ripoffs, scams and gotchas that can take the savings out of your Black Friday shopping trip.
Before you start planning your Black Friday purchases, study up on these retailer tricks so you don’t waste time waiting for a bad Black Friday deal.
Inflated Retail Pricing
The oldest trick in the book, and often used on technology items, is to show a higher retail price for Black Friday doorbusters. Stores can do this because the models sold on Black Friday may have the same specs as everyday models, but they have a different model number. This means you will see tablets and notebooks listed as being ‘on sale’ for $300, with the claim that they are on sale at a huge 50-60% off, but in reality no one has every paid $600 or $700 for the notebook in question.
Your best bet to beat this bum deal is to look up the price of the actual model online. Check Amazon, PriceGrabber or the manufacturer’s website. If the model number is Toshiba Satellite C655D-S5332, search for the Toshiba Satellite C655D model, and look for similar specs.
Optimizations And Setup Fees
Falling for an optimization or setup service can quickly eat away at any Black Friday discount.
Best Buy will often sell computers with pre-performed optimizations, that can increase your cost by $50. These optimizations aren’t worth the price, and you can make your own recovery discs easily at home.
Staples is also a culprit, offering a $40 tablet set up fee. For $40, you’ll get help booting up your tablet, setting owner information and registering it. It’s not clear where staples is registering it, but every tablet has a setup guide that loads when you turn the tablet on. The process varies, but you will be walked through setting up your email and owner information. There are a few other additions, but most tablet owners should not need these services.
In general, be wary of any optimizations and setup fees — especially on Black Friday.
Retailers are getting better about offering good bundle deals on Black Friday, especially on items like the Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation 3. But there are still several bundles to avoid.
Smartphone accessory bundles are one thing to pass on this Black Friday. While we expect to see a number of Black Friday deals from Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T, you should watch out for add-on accessory bundles that claim to offer significant savings. Too many times I see high prices for car chargers, screen protectors you don’t need and cases so ugly they should be illegal.
Do you homework so you don’t get burned by a bundle on Black Friday.
Warranty Sales Pitches
When you head to the checkout, watch out for warranty sales pitches from store staff. While warranties can be a good deal for some users, staff often inflate the value, especially on busy shopping days. If you want to purchase an in store warranty, be sure that you get the salesperson to show you that the warranty actually covers what it claims.
Instead of paying extra at checkout, you can put your purchase on certain Visa, MasterCard or American Express cards and double the manufacturer warranty to two years. Call the number on the back of your card today to ask if they offer an extended warranty service. All you have to do is put your whole purchase on the card and the warranty extension is automatically applied for free. Keep your receipt and the credit card statement in a safe place so that you have it if you need service.
You can also get decent warranties from Squaretrade, which may offer a better value depending on the product.
Finally, watch out for products that are downright awful. The best example is the Sylvania 7″ Android Tablet that is so full of problems I can barely believe that Toys R Us is selling it.
You’ll find a number of deals like this, and if you are shopping in store or buying in a rush online, it is easy to fall for on of these awful deals.
Before you buy, check out reviews online. If you have to buy right away to score a deal, don’t open it until you can do some research.
Image of Stop Sign by Uwe Hermann on Flickr