Avoid the accessories at big box chains... [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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08-09-2011, 07:27 PM
This if for the less savvy members of the forum (which include me until today).

These stores give you a bargain on the big ticket item and then gouge you on the accessories. I bought a nice little Sony HX9V digital camera today at Best-Buy. After a series of price matching to lower the price and of course listening to and rejecting the myriad of ridiculously expensive warranty options (which isn't a warranty according to the spiel).

Anyway - the point.

I looked at buying a second battery - point and shoots tend to suck battery power unlike my Nikon DSLR and so a second battery is practically a must. So looking on the shelf there is a Sony Battery $69. Back the truck up $69 for a battery - yeah no thanks.

Go home look on Amazon - and wait a minute two brand new batteries for the exact same camera - granted an off brand but the same specs - 2 for $14 including shipping. Read the customer reviews - and what do you know - just as good and last just as long.

The external battery charger to make things faster and easier - $59. Amazon - $7 and it does the job - again folks who lost their one buy it and say it's just as good.

Then I thought about all the other stuff those chains sell at grossly inflated prices. HDMI cables - $30 - $3-6 on Amazon. And printer cables - eesh.

I won't start on speaker cables and interconnects as that can be a touchy subject but I am wondering about TV wall mounts, PS3 controllers and remotes, and any other sort of doohickey.

The warranty they offer is so seductive too. If it breaks we'll replace it - otherwise you have to ship it to Sony for repairs. But when 2 years of that is 25% of the total cost of the camera - it makes little sense. 4 years at about 30% makes a little more sense. However it's $110. In 3 years you will likely get a camera just as good for about that - and the dollar value in 3 years will be lower than today. I suppose it's a gamble but odds are not in your favor since they do not warrant failure from things like dropping the camera or water damage or humidity - and so it's doubtful it will break for any other reason. I'd love to get the numbers on camera failure rate percentages.

I remember buying an old 1040 HP laptop in 2004 and paid for the warranty - they give you the spiel that the warranty covers a replacement battery and they always go dead in a couple of years. The warranty was $90 and the battery is $150. 7 years later and that laptop was on almost 24/7 for 2 solid years with the battery in - it's now 2011 and the battery is the original and still lasts about 1.5 hours - sure it's not the 2.5 it used to be but all things considered.... Paid the $90 stupid tax - oops.

08-10-2011, 02:29 AM
I remember from a few years ago how expensive my wife's Blackberry holder was compared to how inexpensive it was online. Same exact one to. We won't even get into HDMI cables.

Due to the constant abuse they suffer, a laptop is perhaps the only electronic device worthy of an extended warranty. The HP I bought at Circuit City has been repaired three times ( power supply, motherboard and power cord connection ) under the extended warranty. Radio Shack picked up the warranties for CC when they went under.

08-10-2011, 03:25 AM
You have to remember there is no overhead for an Amazon Partner to store and sell out of their garage.

But, yeah the stores are gouging for sure. I bought both of my flat screens from online vendors in new york and saved a boatload of money. The only thing you have to be aware of is that you need to be home and open the box to look for damage before you let the driver go because if there is a problem after you sign, you have to ship or take the unit for repair to a service center. No big deal. No problems whatsoever with both of my Sony purchases.

I did buy my Camera, Canon G11, from a B&M store in my own neighborhood for a few reasons. First, knowledgeable people to talk to and 2nd, for $75 I got a 3 year extended warranty and they give you a loaner camera. I bought the $39 leather belt case online for $22.

Batteries are a big one whether they be for a camera or a phone. I deal with a few online battery places like Batteries.com and have had no problems with anything they sent me. But, a few months ago I needed to replace my 2 phone batteries, Motorola brand at any store is close to $40 while online they are closer to $10. I found a place selling an exact replacement for $6.95 and it was an Amazon Partner. I ordered them and in less than a week I got 2 batteries that were old, used, had non factory stickers on them and were bulging. The Sprint store checked them and the were just plain Failed.

I called Amazon right up bypassing the partner with my complaint and in a few days my account was credited back the money. That is the great thing about Amazon, if you call them directly, they chase the partner down for you or just refund / replace the item quickly.

08-10-2011, 06:57 AM
Very good points, RGA. I've had similar experiences.

E.g. When I bought a desktop computer about 3 years ago it came with a "free" HP printer (the kind that gobbles expensive ink cartridges). However as the sales person quickly pointed out, it didn't come with the necessary connecting cable. I asked what kind it needed and he went to get me one. He came back with a 6' USB cable with standard Type A and Type B connectors for $35.00. I told him, "No thanks, I think I've got one of those"; in fact I had a drawer full of them. Even it I hadn't, I could have got one at TigerDirect for $7 or less.

Accessories tend to be after-though items for most consumers. I.e. a couple buys a new 50" plasma at, say, Future Shop, advertised for a great price. The salesman then points out they'll need an HDMI cable and shows them a $150 Monster Cable. This is how these places boost their revenues selling high markup items. Again, TigerDirect could provide a perfectly adequate one for $20.

I've done the camera battery thing too, viz. $35 for a Nikon brand at the camera place vs. $9 + mailing for a no-name online. The no-name works fine BTW, despite Nikon's firm warnings to use only their stuff.

Of course extended warranties are also revenue boosters in the same way.

08-10-2011, 09:27 AM
Best Buy sold the mount for my plasma TV for $150. Parts Express had it for $24 plus a free HDMI cable. When I got an Apple TV box a little later that free HDMI cable was just sitting there and smiling at me.

08-10-2011, 02:26 PM
The warranty makes sense on some items but it depends on the price - the rule of thumb I was given is that it should be no more than 1/6 the price of the item and preferably cover 3 times the length of the manufacturer's warranty.

I bought an extended warranty on my Dell XPS M1530 laptop which at the time was $1500. I paid $50 for 2 additional years. $50 makes a lot of sense on a $1500 laptop.

$110 makes less sense on a $370 camera.

08-10-2011, 08:38 PM
Extended warranty and accesssories are big profit making for bix box stores as profits for electronic components such as TV, DVD/Bluray players, audio etc... are miminal. For example if you are looking for HDMI cables, you would not find any for under $20 in big stores (including Walmart).

They do offer lower price cables and accessories on their web site, but not at their physical stores.

08-11-2011, 11:28 AM
Hi RGA; I just read reports on that Sony model you purchased and they are very favorable both for still and especially video quality. Good thing you did not buy a Panasonic model that uses what is called a "propriatary" battery. Panasonics cameras are so designed to only accept Panasonic and not generic batteries. I call that "extortion". So in the future if you can find a good source for gererics for your camera you know where to go. By the way, that model shoots in stereo sound. Always think of the internet before you buy any accessories so you can determine prices on those said accessories you desire. I own a Panasonic dmc-ls80 and model ls85. There is no extortionism on those cameras. They take 2 AA rechargeables, shoot decent pictures and widescreen videos though they offer quality mono sound only.

08-11-2011, 01:34 PM
I am not super knowledgable on cameras but I have a Canon Digital elph that I never really loved - the pictures never seemed all that good - even though it was top rated by DP review and Steve's digicam. Then I bought a Nikon D40 which the big Nikon guru preferred using to even the more expensive models - it's lighter and has a faster shutter speed to the bigger boys - and it's good enough of a sensor that the picture quality is very solid - I have loved it - but at the same time the lens I want is that 18mm to 200mm one and it is always $800 and it's still just so big.

I never really print anything - I make a blog and if I did print it would be no bigger than 8 x 11

So I long had my eyes on Panasonic when they came out with the TZ3 I think it was which was the first big zoom pocket camera.

So Panasonic was the first brand I looked at - Future Shop was giving me a hard sell on it. But when we looked up the reviews from a few sites and owner reviews a lot of negative results came in about picture quality. Looking at a comparison of the Sony, Panasonic and Canon you can see all three cameras on the same picture and the Panasonic model was way behind the other two.

From the reviews of similar cameras it came down to the HX9, Nikon 9100 and a Canon - the camera has the nicest pictures but the least amount of zoom and worst video mode. The HX9 can shoot 1080P at 60FPS the only camera in this class that can do that - and best of all you can zoom while filming - but you can also take 3mp pictures while filming. So it has the best video mode out there right now and the pictures while a little colour hot - I don't mind the extra vibrancy - there is a shot of Micky Mouse in a comparo and the reviewer said the Canon was better but I felt the Sony looked better - reds were red blue was blue while the others were a little washed out looking. Either way both were good enough in pictures.

The Sony also killed the Canon at the long end of the zoom in night shots.

I am not a gadget guy - but hell the thing has GPS, Panorama, black and white, and it does 3D. The face detection thing is pretty neat - I took a picture of one of my paintings and a little box went around the girl's face. Pretty cool gadget and it still fits in my shirt pocket.

That's the trouble with the DSLR - it's just so big - when you are out and about you have to lug that huge thing around with you.

I am heading down this weekend to watch the Blue Jays in Seattle at Safeco Field - so I'll give it a workout.

I picked up a 16gb SDHC card with a speed rating of 10 from Lexar for $29 - Best Buy miss priced it as when it came on screen it was supposed to be the (4) rating - they still gave it to me though.

I looked more at the Sony line based off the PS3 which I absolutely love. The same advertising could apply - it only does everything.

Here's a video review Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V review: The ultimate compact megazoom? | Crave - CNET (http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20071979-1/sony-cyber-shot-dsc-hx9v-review-the-ultimate-compact-megazoom/)