A few months ago I upgraded to a large screen high definition television. I did search the web for the best price, but was very hesitant to purchase something that would have to be shipped. I really wanted to deal with a local merchant so that I could easily return the product if it didn’t meet my expectations. Although the prices for HDTVs have dropped pretty dramatically over the past few years, the medium to high end gear is still pretty pricey.
I stumbled upon a method for getting a great deal on a large screen HDTV by accident, but I have heard of this method in the past. I’m going to pass the advice on to you, just in case you are looking for a great deal.
First, I targeted a 52 inch Sony XBR4 HDTV with 1080p, a 120 Hz refresh rate, Deep Color and all the bells and whistles I wanted, such as at least 3 HDMI ports, HD component video ports, a non-reflective screen and bezel, PC inputs, etc. I wanted to make sure that the HDTV I selected was going to not only handle my needs for the foreseeable future, but also would be compatible with all of my legacy home theater equipment. I also verified the quality of the TV through the usual channels, such as Consumer Reports and reviews found on the web.
Once I knew what I wanted, it was a matter of finding the best price. The retail price was $3995, which is a lot more than I wanted to spend. The major discounters such as Sam’s Club, Costco, Target and Wal-Mart do not sell higher-end Sony HDTVs, so I had to look at the major electronics retailers in my area. One Sunday morning I checked the Best Buy flier in the paper and saw the exact model I was looking for on sale at $600 off the retail price. That got me a little closer to the price I was willing to pay, so I went to the Best Buy web site to check the specifications.
Guess what? The same unit on the Best Buy web site was on sale for $1000 off of the retail price. Did that mean that I had to order it from the web site in order to get that price? I wasn’t sure, so I printed the information and trotted off to my local Best Buy store. I found that Best Buy frequently runs sale prices on their web site that are much better deals than the store prices, and if bring the web site price into the store, they honor that price. So I got my Sony 52 inch XBR4 for a real nice price, but it didn’t stop there.
The store had its own special running for an additional $100 off of any HDTV if you purchased a Blu-ray player at the same time. Well it just happens that I had already targeted a Sharp BD-HP20 Blu-ray player, so I added that to the order. There was another special that included a pack of three Blu-ray movies if you bought a Blu-ray player with an HDTV. The sad part is that a special Sharp promotion for ten free Blu-ray movies just ended the day before, but the three movies I did receive were all pretty good. However, the ten movie promotion would have been worth about $300 in high definition movies. 🙁
It still didn’t really end there. I always want to make sure that I got the best price around for any home theater components that I buy, so I continued to monitor the local prices so that I could take advantage of a 30-day price match guarantee with Best Buy if the opportunity arose. None of the local prices I found came anywhere near the price I paid for the Sony unit, so I was a pretty happy camper. But just under the 30-day window for price matches, Sharp announced that they were lowering the price on BD-HP20 Blu-ray player by $100. I brought the announcement into the local Best Buy store and they honored it and rebated the $100 to me.
The real moral of this story is that you need to verify sale prices on a retailer’s web site and take advantage of every offer or combinations of offers. The research doesn’t necessarily end with the sale. I would have missed out on the additional $100 price match for the Sharp player if I had not been watching the prices.
Keep in mind that the offers available on a company’s web site can differ significantly from what you see in a Sunday morning newspaper flier. This is similar to buying a car. The best prices are typically posted on an auto dealer’s web site and not in the newspaper. This can save a lot of negotiating time and effort, as well as a substantial amount of money.