Product Reviews

6 Sales Tactics To Avoid When Buying Electronics At A Retail Store [Opinion]

Matt Smith 02-08-2012

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 How To Buy Maximum HDTV With Minimum Cash Read More 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

sales tactics to avoid


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?

sales tactics to avoid


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

sales tactics examples


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…

sales tactics examples

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 Why You Should Never Spend More Than $10 On An HDMI Cable To get the best out of your HD equipment, be it a nice widescreen television, a Blu-ray player, a PS3, or an HD streaming set-top box, you need at least one HDMI cable. Or more... Read More ? 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.

Related topics: Buying Tips, Save Money.

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  1. Paulz
    August 20, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    I don't usually buy the extended warranty, but it did come in handy with a dvd recorder. Had to have it repaired three times after the 1-year warranty, and the third time I got a new machine, much better than the original.

  2. Sameer N
    August 14, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    If the shop don't have the product that you ask for, they simply say, "that product has got few complaints from customers, so we didn't stock it", but that product might have good reviews everywhere.

  3. Vociferous Carmichael
    August 8, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Thanks for the inkling. I definitely avoid most electronic retail stores, if only to see/test a product in person.

  4. Catherine McCrum
    August 8, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    "there’s no reason to ever finance something at an electronics store" PERFECT STATEMENT - whole article is a good read - recommending to my fb friends

  5. Nancy Cunningham
    August 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    This is all so true, and one reason I hated working in retail sales! Thanks for a great article, Matt.

  6. Kevin Green
    August 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I particularly enjoyed the comment about the lack of a need for financing.

  7. Donna Shaw
    August 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Also, call ahead on sale items. Stores like to advertise sales on items that they only stock in small numbers, then they pull a "bait and switch." You end up leaving with a more expensive, though not necessarily better, item.

  8. C Dockery
    August 8, 2012 at 5:11 am

    Absolutely! Knowledge is power.

  9. Donovan
    August 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    One of the things that annoys me the most is I walk in to get something unrelated and they keep trying to push a cell phone on me.

  10. BeyondDawnRadio
    August 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Great information, it is so true! I used to work at a computer store and we were told to sell cables because they had the most mark up's.

  11. Vampie C.
    August 7, 2012 at 6:58 am

    Without research, you are bound to be mislead by the salesman.

    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.

    Hehe. splendid. :-)

  12. Richard Borkovec
    August 7, 2012 at 3:43 am

    I have to agree that research is your best defense against any of these. Every time I've gone into certain stores (like the picture), they always do every one of these Most of the time the people are beyond ignorant, and it actually makes you think about buying it somewhere else just because of that.

  13. Sufian Khan
    August 6, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Though the mentioned sales tactics are true however there are a couple of things that a consumer should know.

    1. Once a manufacturer warranty expires E.g. Computer, TV. Issues that occur post the warranty period will need a lot more monetary expenditure to fix those issues than the cost of an extended warranty for a year would cost. Though consumers are always under the impression that if the product doesn't go bad for a year it wont do so for the rest of its life. That's a myth - When purchasing expensive electronic goods its good to get the extended warranty as a protection for the investment.

    2. No matter how much ever the research is done online it will still not account to the fact that there might be a good deal for accessories that you dont want pass on.

    3. Not all sales men are bound by the requirement to sell what they want. Some actually think from your perspective and even advise you to buy a less sophisticated product depending on your needs in the present and the near future.

  14. tarzan2001
    August 6, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Useful info, but as mentioned in the article, make sure you are well-educated about the product you want to buy before you go in and make the actual purpose. Sometimes I will actually just go in once to see what the salesperson has to suggest, and then if it seems reasonable, I go back and do more research to make sure I'm getting the best bang for my buck. Greedy salespeople are out there, but thankfully I've been lucky and haven't met many. :)

  15. Jason Myers
    August 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    I would disagree with a couple of the statements. The tactics go much deeper than what is suggested. First off if you want to sell an extended warranty a good salesperson will never berate the manufacturers warranty or their product, "The products we sell come with excellent warranties and it is an excellent product, however that warranty is only one year". I sold far more extended warranty this way than the negative. What you have to watch for is people ganging up on your while you are making a decision. If a sales person comes out of nowhere and starts talking about the warranty, especially "the manager", then you are being double-teamed. Kindly ask the other person to step away.

    Good sales people minimize yeses. Do you want this laptop? Yes. Do you want this overpriced power bar? Yes. Do you want this printer? Yes. Do you want this extended warranty? No. The customer has said yes so many times that they feel they must say no to something. A good salesperson will minimize yeses-- just something to be aware of. When you have your cart of goods, say to the sales person.

    Good sales people are not stupid, they know 80+% of their customers research their major product purchase online before even coming into the store. It is that sales person job to sell what the customer wants and only switch them if they are truly purchasing the wrong products for their needs. They also know they may only be looking at that product in the store to buy it online. It is also their job to inform the customer of their price matching/beating policy.

    Lots of customers want financing. It sucks and I felt horrible for selling it because 9/10 the customer did not NEED that product. The customer asks for financing more than the salesperson will offer it. However when people are financing something it makes selling warranty that much easier. All I would ever have to say is, "It would be horrible if this product were to fail or not function as it once did 2 years into ownership and you're still paying it off. For only $x per month TOTAL you can protect your product too". Don't fall into this trap. Don't buy financing unless you absolutely NEED the product to live your life (i.e. computer for work or school).

    Customer tactic: A lot of times stores will sweeten the pot by offering a better deal on your product for buying extended warranty. Say you MAY buy the warranty, however it's a purchase for working at home, your employer is paying half, and you have been instructed you will not get reimbursed for the warranty so if the warranty does appear on your receipt, it must appear as a second line and you must pay for it with a different card. This prevents "packaging" tactics-- a bunch of items consolidated for one price. Refund one item and the deal is lost. Then you hop over to a different store the next day and return just the warranty and maintain your great deal. Do not let the salesperson write any deal details on your receipt! The receipt is now your property.

    Customer tactic: Figure out when the quarter ends and buy things on the day prior. This is especially good for clearance. Your negotiating power goes up as stores will take a heavy loss to get rid of older product.

    An electronics sales person for 2 years and department manager for one year responsible for generating 14 million dollars per year.

  16. VS Vishnu
    August 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    useful info..

  17. Mark Thornley
    August 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    If you know what it is you're going to the store to buy, avoid the salesperson as much as possible. Unless I need them to get me the product I usually don't need their help.

  18. Mistry_Land
    August 4, 2012 at 6:59 am

    nice info..

  19. Elijah Swartz
    August 3, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    An honorary mention to add to the list of shame should be those horrible rent to own stores. You know, the places that make you pay a monthly payment on something to rent it and most people end up keep paying until they could have bought two or three of that certain item. I feel so sorry for the people that get tricked into visiting those places.

    Obligatory about the HDMI cables.

  20. Nezlo
    August 3, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Nice article, I've been into computers and electronics for ages now and simply ignore sales reps. I'll say no thank you once, then ignore them from then on no matter how much they bug me.

    As for the HDMI cables, very good points made and I agree 100%, I get all mine from Amazon or eBay for around $6 and have never had issues.

  21. Todd W.
    August 3, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    While I recognize the points the author is making and I'd give the same recommendations, I have to take some small issue with the sub-focus of this article, the greedy salesperson.

    I'm not a salesman, but I've worked in computer retail stores for the last 20 years. Small time stores compared to the "big boys". What I'd like everyone to know is that in my experience, if the person who's selling to you is a bit of a geek about the subject, you would do well to consider what you may be being told about a products failings or shortcomings. You may not know the salesperson helping you is such a geek, but you don't have to buy right then and there either. Often the salesperson isn't lying to you (and yet, I admit I've met a lot of slimy salesmen), so I would add to the article that you listen, and then walk away and evaluate if you need to reconsider. Not all salespeople are trying to get you to buy something more expensive because they might be on commission, or the company has taught them how to (or forces them to). Sometimes, they are just expressing the things they themselves don't like about a product, or have had other people complain about to them. I can't count the number of times a customer has said to me "but why didn't they tell me this when I bought it". And I know from first hand experience that equally-as-often the answer is one of: a) you weren't listening and the salesperson wasn't going to talk you out of a sale or b) the salesperson has already been beaten down that day and isn't up to 'helping' anymore customer's. As a personal flaw (in my bosses eyes) I never up sell a customer anything for profit, and I've been completely ignored, even dismissed when I have tried to warn a customer off a particular product or configuration. It's rare to run into the individual who actually did their research before coming in, and even rarer that the customer is interested in the opinion of the salesperson (someone who may have a ton more experience with the product then the buyer). When customers find out I'm a technician...I've seem them turn 180 degrees around and start listening like I'm their best bud (even though the salesperson helping them knew just as much as I did about the product).

    The difference might be the sales pressures of a big retailer compared to the smaller stores. Just because a salesperson may appear to be merely 'up-selling' doesn't mean he's trying to make more money or meet a quota. The smaller stores are indeed trying to stay alive, but the people that work in them are often considerably more knowledgeable about the products and more sensitive, I think, to the customer's in general. Smaller stores are dealing with the same price pressures as the big boys, but with fewer customers. If your research leaves questions, ask about it at a smaller store. The seller might just be trying to help by passing along their own knowledge at the reports from other customers. Hopefully they will earn your business and you will find a trustworthy source of information and help.

    Additional note: Woe to those of you out there who make snap judgments when they see a "woman" salesperson or technician. You make me feel sorry for you, when your ignorance causes you to look for some "male" to help you out instead. As long as I've been in this business, there have been far too few females (or men of other skin color then white). Those few whom I've met or worked with were always formidable, their knowledge and commitment outstripping many of the men I've unfortunately had to work with. I only wish there were more women involved in this industry... after all, I like women, and a smart women is a double pleasure to be around.

  22. Edward Bellair
    August 3, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    With all the info at your finger tips, why keep these antiquated tactics alive? Oh ya, A sucker born every minute.

  23. Theresa
    August 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Great article!!!!! I only I could do my homework before I go to the store. I realize that's the secret, but sometimes it's difficult. When it comes to electronics, I tend to believe other people know more than I. I would be interested to know if gender plays a role in this type of sales tactics.

  24. Theresa
    August 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Great article!!!!!! If I could only be strong enough to avoid those traps. I realize that doing my homework would be extremely useful, but when it comes to electronics, I always assume someone else knows more than I. I would be curious to know if gender makes a difference. Is one sex more vunerable to this type of sales pitch?

  25. Karen Ang
    August 3, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I impulsed-buy a cellphone when I was in Malaysia. I was hoping to buy a Galaxy Note but the salesperson told me that the Galaxy S3 is better and I got suckered into getting it instead. Well, I don't have any regrets because it is an awesome phone but still...I didn't do any research before I bought it.

  26. SOSrwiggins
    August 3, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Excellent article!
    My favorite point was "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."
    This is so true.

  27. Jon Smith
    August 3, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    the more we avoid something like best buy, the sooner they disappear like circuit city

  28. Dave
    August 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Once I bought a Sears washing machine that had a warranty. When the transmission broke I called Sears and told them what part was broken and asked for a replacement.
    They told me that I would have to pay for a service call before I could ask them again... I just repaired the transmission and never bought Sears stuff again.

    Another time I bought a UPS POWERCOM KIN-2200AP 120V, the thing broke 2 days after the warranty ran out. I could not fix this one because the internal batteries swelled up so much that I could not replace them without destroying the enclosure.

    My recommendation: Read, and re-read the online reviews of the product and they way that the companies have treated others.... They will do the same to you.

  29. Jeff
    August 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    The only thing I ever buy an extended warranty on is a laptop, because I know that I can drop one.
    So I get the kind of warranty that if I drop it down the stairs it is covered.

    Anything other than that either will either fail while the regular warranty is still in effect, or is cheap enough to just buy a new one.

  30. Roberta Boe
    August 3, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Excellent article, I will print and make my husband read it before our next shopping spree!

  31. echantrea
    August 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    Great ideas to repeal those pitches.

  32. Shakirah Faleh Lai
    August 3, 2012 at 5:53 am

    Do a good research before buying anything.

  33. Igor Rizvi?
    August 2, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Prices dropping liek hot,just have to be patient

  34. Tuan Vu
    August 2, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    Pretty cool

  35. Colton Redwine
    August 2, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    HDMI cables carry a digital signal. Digital is nothing but ones and zeros. Either you have the signal, or you don't. No matter what anyone tells you, buying a more expensive cable *will not* give you a better or clearer picture. Bottom line. I buy my HDMI cables on Amazon, and I usually never spend more than $4 on them.

    • epiquestions
      August 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      Digital is ones and zeroes. But the way it is transmitted through hdmi cables or other media is not as simple as sending one's and zeroes, it sends pulses that represent 1 or 0 which is not immune from interference. There is a limit to the length of the cable from the pc to the lcd before the signal deteriorates. I'm not saying you should buy those super expensive cables, i'm just saying that your reasoning and understanding about digital transmission is incorrect.

  36. infmom
    August 2, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    I sold computers at a big-box store and we were pushed to do most of those things. That's probably why I wasn't the department's top seller, week after week. :)

    But looking at it from the customer's point of view, I'm an older woman who just happens to have also worked as a computer repair tech AND I have A+ certification, so the punk kids who judge the book by its cover and assume they've got some clueless old biddy in front of them get handed their heads for lunch on a regular basis.

    August 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Best way to avoid is just research online. Go to store to check it out in person with headset on. Order it for pick up if you want to get from the stores.

  38. Justin Fortin
    August 2, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Everyone knows you need at least 4 Super-HD Gold Plated Unicorn Horn Monster HDMI cables for only $475 each with every new TV.

    • Matt Smith
      August 2, 2012 at 4:55 pm

      That's only worthwhile if you have a Blu-Ray player that supports SparkleVision