Going to the store is usually a simple process. You pop in, get what you want, and leave. Many stores go to great lengths to ensure that their customers can easily find the item they want to buy. They group similar items, place more popular items in more obvious locations and try to make cashier lines as short as possible.
Electronics retailers, on the other hand, are a different story. Want to just walk in and buy the television you want? Okay, you can, but only after you listen to a variety of sales pitches designed to sell you stuff you probably don’t need. Here are the tactics electronics stores use, and how to avoid them.
Berating Your Product Choice
The Pitch: When you tell the salesperson what model you want they’ll examine the choice closely and pick out any possible disadvantages. You’ll be asked if you know or realize that those disadvantages exist, and the salesman might say something like “I just want you to know about that” in a tone which hints it’s an issue.
The Purpose: In some cases this can be honest, but it’s usually a classic up-sell tactic. If the salesperson can reduce the value of the product in your mind it will be easier to sell you something more expensive. Yes, it’ll cost more, but you’ll now think you’re getting a better deal.
How To Avoid It: Research. Be confident in what you are buying. If you already know of all the advantage and benefits you will not be easily swayed by the salesperson. Tell them you’re aware of the issues and you’d like to buy the product anyway.
Shock & Awe
The Pitch: As you are looking at a product, or when you ask to buy, the salesperson might say “I just want to show you something.” That something will usually be a better product, in some other part of the store surrounded by other bigger, better products.
The Purpose: This is another upsell tactic. Rather than berating your product, the salesperson attempts to awe you with other products. A persistent salesperson may even do this while berating your product choice.
How To Avoid It: Doing your research helps, but this one is all about self-control and sticking to your budget. If you know you can be taken in by these tactics leave your credit cards at home or in the car and bring just enough cash to buy what you wanted.
Would It Help If You Only Had To Pay X Per Month?
The Pitch: This is right out of the used car sales handbook. If someone seems hesitant to buy something, the salesperson can try to sweeten the deal with financing. An expensive item doesn’t seem as expensive when broken into monthly payments.
The Purpose: Often this will be hitched to an up-sell tactic, but sometimes it will be pushed no matter what you buy. Retailers like to sell financing plans because it makes them some extra dough on top of the MSRP.
How To Avoid It: Look, there’s no reason to ever finance something at an electronics store. They don’t sell anything you need. Save up and buy what you want when you can pay the full amount.
Let Me Tell You About Our Extended Warranty
The Pitch: The warranty pitch is usually preceded with some spiel about how a particular product has problems, is unreliable, etc. As with the “Berating Your Product Choice” tactic, the goal is to create fear in the consumer.
The Purpose: To sell warranties, of course. Like financing plans, warranties make the store extra cash for little effort. Most people never have to use the warranty, and most warranties have surprisingly stringent terms.
How To Avoid It: I can’t recall ever reading a piece from a reputable consumer advocate which recommended an extended warranty. Arm yourself with this knowledge before stepping in the store.
If It’s Over 30 Days, You’re On Your Own
The Pitch: If you don’t buy an extended warranty the salesperson may point out that if your new product breaks after the return period (usually 30 days) the store will refuse to help you. You’ll then be told the horrors of manufacture warranty repair.
The Purpose: Yep, this is another fear tactic. By telling you about a scenario that could be incredibly inconvenient the warranty may seem more appealing. Some stores will even ask you to sign a waiver saying you are out of luck if the product breaks after the return period, or they may print out an official-looking certificate that says the same.
How To Avoid It: You have to stick to your knowledge. Research product reliability before you buy. Read some articles about why extended warranties are not worth the money.
You’re Going To Need…
The Pitch: Once you have made your purchase, or while you are making your purchase, you’ll be told about some accessories you will probably need. Cables, mounts, lenses, controllers, etc…all of which you “need” to fully enjoy your product.
The Purpose: To make you spend more money, of course. The salesperson has a captive audience – you. You’re not going anywhere until they give you the product, so now is the perfect time to offer a plethora of extras.
How To Avoid It: Looking up prices for common accessories online is a great way to vaccinate yourself against this pitch. A Monster HDMI cable that costs $80? Yea, you can buy something similar off Monoprice for $6.
Amazingly, all of these sales tactics were used on me during my recent purchase of an HDTV. The salesman was one slick dude, and he was visibly annoyed by the fact I didn’t bite on any of them.
I don’t blame him. Store management constantly pressures its salespeople to send more stuff out the door, sell more warranties, offer more finance options. In some cases the salespeople aren’t even commissioned – meeting targets just means you get to keep your job.
It’s no wonder that so many electronics retailers are struggling to keep people in the door, but if you want to see a product before you buy, they’re your only option. I hope this advice will help you get out of the door unscathed.