Sunday, September 17, 2006

Brief Guide to Retail Deals

As a (recently) former retail sales jockey of 8yrs, I've seen the good, the great and the ugly (, you and you). Here are a few quick tips to gain favor and garner better deals with your local, independent retailer. Note that this is skewed more towards small electronics, where the salesperson has little to no control over making a deal directly.
  • Play nice!
    • Don't be an ass! This should be a general rule for life, but it's difficult for some of you. I think even Ben Popken would agree (although some salesmen could push you this way). Simply put, if you're an ass they'll try to lighten you up but usually end up trying to push you out as quickly as possible, sale or no sale. If you're nice, the salesman will fight for you, wether it's for a deal or an exchange. DO NOT use your position (i.e. "I'm the Deacon of the Sisterhood of the Bloody Mary, what kind of deal can you give me?" "None."). Be humble and they'll talk good about you when you leave and look forward to you coming back.
  • Want a lower price?
    • Make an offer! Don't ask how much they can take off or what can they throw in. This almost always works with used equipment, and will sometimes bring the price down on your main purchase.
  • Don't walk in with a Consumer Reports.
    • Small electronics (i.e. digital cameras) change so quickly, by the time you receive Consumer Reports, it's outdated! They get tired of explaining this concept.
  • Figure out what's important to you.
    • Then look for what you want based on your own criteria. Don't rely on what works for someone else to work for you, because your needs are different. The most annoying response to, "What features are you looking for?" is "I don't know. You tell me!" They're not mind readers, but they can guide you by talking with you. By the time I finished talking with you a little, I already know what will fit your needs. But you have to know your needs!
  • Find a better deal online?
    • Are you sure? There's too many scams out there to mention them all. One of the most common is to offer the product at below actual cost. Then after you place your order, they'll call you to upsell on accessories (most of which should be included). If you decline, the product suddenly becomes placed on backorder indefinitely!

      Solution? Find respectable online dealers. You'll know them because their prices are no more than 10-20% off what your local store is charging. Usually they sell some items at cost and make it up in shipping (like B&H). If you walk into your local retailer with a printout from one or two respected online dealers (as long as you follow the "play nice" rule), you'll always walk out with a deal. They can rarely match online pricing, but if you have a problem you have a place to take it to. Plus you're supporting your local economy!

      Visit J&R, B&H and Adorama for some good fodder.
Am I missing any good tips? Add your tips in the comments!

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