Friday, November 23, 2007


I am firmly convinced that the much-touted Black Friday sales are actually bad for the retailers who run them.

Check the various consumer sites and you'll find a litany of horror stories from customers who are angry because stores didn't have the merchandise advertised, or they allowed people to buy the limited quantities hours earlier than they should have. In every case, the result is unhappy customers who are unlikely to ever view that retailer in a positive light.

Sure, there are some who view the idea of getting up early and fighting the rabble for some token discounted item as a worthy game--but for most people, it's a frustrating, undignified, and unpleasant experience.

Today, I went by Target at about noon to check on an item or two that was advertised as part of their 6 a.m. sale. Of course, they didn't have it... but as it turned out, they didn't have the 37" Olevia LCD TV for $549 at 6a.m. either. "We didn't actually get any of those," the clerk said. So that meant that customers who had actually gotten up early to buy this stuff were frustrated and angry because they had wasted their time for absolutely nothing. And since stores are allowed to put all sorts of caveats on the sales terms ("quantities are very limited, absolutely no rainchecks," etc.), there's nothing the consumer can do.

I buy relatively little from Target nowadays because I find them to be one of the most customer-unfriendly stores one might deal with. Experiences like this make me even more determined to spend most of my money somewhere else... not because I expected Target to havfe the TV at noon, but because they didn't bother to have it at all, even though they advertised it.

When I left, I stopped at Office Depot across the street. Not only did they still have their 42" LCD Olevia for $699, they also still had the discounted Micro-SD card and Pro Duo memory card that were advertised. I picked up both, and am more likely to deal with them because they showed respect for their customers by actually bringing in a decent stock of their sales items.

I'd love to see every customer refuse to go to these one-day Black Friday sales. I'd love to see merchants discontinue the entire demeaning experience. So long as there are people willing to be treated like witless cattle, though, the policies will continue... but at the cost of the retailers' reputations.

1 comment:

Sven said...

The old Black Friday, we have this on sale but we don't actually stock the product or we have 2 and there either sold or we can't find the item.

I do enjoy going through the Black Friday ads and picking out the items that I think are a good deal (if they have them), which items won't be in stock and what will make people stand out in the cold for hours to buy a product that isn't in stock.

I'm going to be honest I've actually did this one year (had to have the experience), on the other hand I stood out in the cold year after year to get Opening day Bleacher tickets for the Cubs.

Now if you really want to get that sales price you might try doing this way. Most stores will refund the price difference of the product if it goes on sale X number of days after you purchased it. So, check out the Black Friday Ads on-line (most are posted within a week of the sale date)verify the store policy, go in a couple of days before the sale and pick-up the item (they might actually have it), later you stop in an pick up the price difference. It's a bit of work and planning so I'd do this only for a really hot deal and it beats the crowds.