Monday, February 2, 2009

All sales are final...remorse lasts longer

Trade publications reported recently that Circuit City's estimated $450 million close-out sale is going so well that liquidators may wrap it up before the original Mar. 31 deadline.

Good riddance, say some consumers in different parts of the country who apparently found bargains they could resist. The fact is, going-out-of-business sales can present tricky challenges to consumers trying to stretch a dollar to the snapping point. Organizers use some of the same tricks as sharp garage-sale operators to part us with our cash, but with more zeros on the price tags.

There are some good reasons to avoid such sales entirely, suggests Jeffrey Strain at We tend to buy things we don't need just because we get a heck of a price. The deals may not really be that good, if promoters jacked up original list prices in order to make a profit selling at a purported 75 percent off. And all-sales-final, cash-or-check-only rules often wipe out many of the usual consumer safeguards we might depend on.

Even so, you can find real bargains, if you work at it, reports Do your homework before you go. Don't put much faith in extended warranties - you are basically buying from guys with pushcarts. Pay with plastic rather than cash if possible, because your credit card company offers some safeguards if you get a lemon.

I can see the reasoning, but don't entirely agree with that last recommendation. If I'm that worried about buying a possible lemon, I'm going to be tempted to save the money and spend a few bucks more someplace else to get something that works or that the seller stands behind. I've already got bargain-price doorstops.

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