The Black Friday deals that aren't
Perhaps it's time to change your Black Friday strategy as some retailers are using tech items to get people into stores, while only holding two or three items in stock.
If it's five o'clock in the morning and you have to spend your time with far more people than you're used to, pushing, pulling and writhing your way to satisfaction, then perhaps a shopping mall is not the ideal location.
The tradition of Black Friday as the day when one attains negotiation nirvana seems a peculiar one. And one has to wonder whether people have learned that some of the deals really aren't deals at all.
As CNET's Rick Broida, many of the alleged deals aren't terribly enticing, as stores have been forced to reduce their prices all year in a desperate attempt to attract the cash-strapped.
However, CNNMoney.com has also written of some slightly tired tactics being promulgated by Black Friday peddlers.
It seems that some are using the rather more saliva-inducing tech items to snap people's sleeping patterns. However, the tinier print of the inducement reveals that there may not be many of these items in stock.
If this reminds you of car dealers, well, then it's perhaps not a good thing.
CNNMoney.com tells the story of Sears' trumpeting of a Samsung 40-inch 1080p LCD HDTV for $599.99. Would this make you slip you fur coat over your PJs, leap into your sedan, and rush to your local mall while it's still dark outside?
The tinier print might give you pause for thought. It reads "Only while quantities last, minimum three per store, no rainchecks."
This is not to suggest that Sears is the only retailer succumbing to these slightly tired mechanisms. But why does this remind one of Vegas casinos, who, when realizing that the gambler with a fine memory was in a relatively favorable position in two-deck blackjack, introduced multiple decks, just to increase the fun?
CNNMoney.com also revealed that some products on sale might be so-called "derivatives." For the less initiated, this might be translated as "inferior models." It might be an HDTV that enjoys a lower image contrast ratio. Or an iPhone that can't download apps. (Yes, the latter is an exaggeration.)
Edgar Dworsky, editor of Consumer World, was even quoted by CNNMoney.com as dampening the hopes that might dwell in a raincheck: "A raincheck doesn't guarantee that you will eventually get that elusive Black Friday deal. Consumers can go weeks waiting and hoping, and the retailer may never get more of the product shipped to its stores."
Might I make a suggestion as I watch the fast-moving train that is the desperate need for deals rushing headlong at the train that is the equally desperate need for profits?
Why don't stores offer a couple of truthful ads? Something like this: "Look, we've got three Samsung 40-inchers for $599.99. We won't make any money on them. But we're advertising them so that you can get excited. We promise there will be three of them and we'll sell them to the first person who comes in and guesses the middle name of our handsome salesman, Brad. We think that's fairer than having y'all fight, bite and claw outside our front door. Life is random. So are our deals."
This is a new era in the relationship between retailers and their customers. Social networking is forcing companies to be far more authentic with their customers than they have ever felt comfortable being before.
Why can't some of them use Black Friday as the first day of their new authenticity? It just might engender a little loyalty and a little trust. You know, for those other 364 days of the year.