The One Reason You Shouldn’t Buy Electronics on Black Friday

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You may wind up sorely disappointed if you do.


Key points

  • It’s common to see discounted electronics on Black Friday.
  • The items you see on sale may not be the items you think they are.
  • You may be getting a substandard model of that particular TV or other electronic device, made for Black Friday sales.

There’s a reason so many consumers save up their money and bank all of their credit card cash back for Black Friday. That’s when retailers tend to bust out the biggest deals of the year, from toys to apparel to household goods and appliances. And so many consumers wait to do their personal and holiday shopping until that point.

It’s also common to see a range of electronics heavily discounted on Black Friday. You might score items like laptops, TVs, and gaming systems at a much lower price point than what they’d normally retail for. But while consumers often wait until Black Friday to load up on electronics, you may want to buy yours at a different point during the year for one big reason.

Are you getting the item you think you’re getting?

If you see a popular children’s toy that normally retails for $30 on sale for $20 during Black Friday, you’re not taking a very big risk by buying it. Chances are, that toy is the same version you’d see outside of Black Friday.

The same can’t necessarily be said when you’re talking about electronics, though.

Have you ever wondered how it is that retailers can afford to slash the price of electronics by hundreds of dollars without losing money? It’s because they’re not giving you the same costlier item you’d normally see on the shelves.

When you see a TV, for example, that normally sells for $1,200 on sale for $800 during Black Friday, there’s a good chance you’re not getting the standard model, but rather, a derivative model that’s comparable in theory, but is made with inferior components that are more likely to break down over time. In fact, retailers commonly have electronics made specifically for Black Friday sale purposes. Those items may be lower in quality and not worth your money.

How can you tell? There’s an easy way — look at the model or serial number.

Let’s say a given company sells a 52-inch TV with the model number OLED5450. If you see a 52-inch OLED TV by the same company being advertised at a much lower price than usual on Black Friday, see if it has that same serial number. If it’s a different one, you can be fairly certain it’s not the same TV you’d normally find in stock.

Don’t fall into a common trap

Retailers aren’t in the business of willingly losing money. Granted, some retailers die heavily discount a select number of items in limited quantities to get customers in the door on Black Friday. But if a given retailer were to take a $400 or $500 hit on every higher-end TV or laptop it sells on Black Friday, it wouldn’t be very good business.

But rest assured, retailers aren’t taking that hit. Instead, they’re paying less for lower-quality electronics and are charging a price that still benefits them financially. And it’s in your best interest not to fall victim to that trap.

If you vein going to buy electronics on Black Friday, do your research and make sure the item you’re purchasing isn’t just a special run with inferior components. You may be better off spending $1,200 on a TV that lasts for eight years versus an $800 Black Friday special that only lasts half as long.

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