Saturday, December 26, 2009

After Christmas Sales

This is the time of year when retailers try to do several things: Sell any overstock still taking up too much shelf space, sell items that are soon to be on the clearance list, turnaround gift returns/exchanges (both opened and unopened), sell through old display models, and sell old product that has been to service.

This is where the consumer can get a good deal, depending on how desperate the store is to clear out shelf space. Overstock items are usually those loss leaders, such as those $29 DVD players, $99 Blu-ray Disc players, $299 LCD Televisions, and $249 budget home theater packages that are still new and in sealed boxes. Here you know that they haven't been opened, returned, or used.

When it comes to returns and exchanges, stores want to turn these around as quickly as possible. A great example is a $29 DVD player. You wake up on Christmas Day and find out that you got a $29 DVD player from your significant other and another $29 DVD player from your parents. Of course, politically you have to decide which one you take back, but, without opening the box you take one back and exchange it for something else. However, you are not the only one. When you arrive at the store you are in line with ten other people coming back to exchange the same DVD player.

Once again, the consumer can make out, however, there are a couple of points to be aware of. The item may have been opened by the customer or by the store returns dept to check to contents. In this case, make sure you do four things:

Check for a discounted price sticker made by the store on the box and confirm with a sales person or store manager that the open box price is indeed a discount price over the same item brand new.

Check the contents of the box yourself, together with a sales person or store manager. Make sure there is an owner's manual for the product and all accessories for the product are present.

In addition, note how the accessories are packaged. Are the cords, remote, and manual in their original packaging (which may indicate the product may not have been used), or are they obviously repackaged (which would most likely indicate the product was used for a period of time)?

Lastly, if anything is missing, negotiate for a lower price that would realistically make up the price of the missing items.
If the box has been opened, ask to see the item plugged in and working before you leave the store.

Also, check to see if there is a date code on the open box label or price sticker. This won't tell you how old the product is, but it does tell you how long the item has been sitting on the shelf as open box item.

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