CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

How to tell if that 'amazing' tech product on Facebook is really a good deal

You've seen the ads, many of which are quite compelling -- but here's what you don't know about some of these "magical" gadgets.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
3 min read

Sexy video, effective copy -- I can see why this would attract a lot of buyers. Just one problem: It's way overpriced from this particular seller.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

If you're a Facebook regular, you've probably seen your share of ads for some "amazing" tech products, the kind that leave users "totally blown away" and are on sale now for "incredible prices!"

More often than not, these ads are accompanied by some pretty compelling videos and a hard-to-bypass "Buy Now" button.

My advice: Think before you tap. Not all of these products are new, unique to Facebook or especially good deals.

Hey, I know that drone

Recently, for example, I spotted an ad (above) touting "the ultimate gadget" -- the Baby Elfie drone, which was priced at "50 percent off and FREE shipping!"

On top of that, some 35,000 Facebook users had  "liked," "loved" or "wowed" that post. Surely, this must be an incredible deal.

Curious, I clicked through to see the price and landed at the storefront for Cyber Deal Today. Its 50-percent-off price for the drone: $89.99.

Enlarge Image

It'll blow you away how much you can save on an identical mount on Amazon, eBay and elsewhere.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Given all the features and the admittedly impressive demo video accompanying the ad, you might find that a good deal indeed.

It isn't. I'm familiar with Baby Elfie deals. I've shared Baby Elfie deals. This, sir, is no Baby Elfie deal.

In fact, look no further than Amazon and you can find this exact drone -- under its full name, the JJRC H37 Baby Elfie -- bundled with two extra batteries and a carrying case for just $48.

What's going on here? Marketing, plain and simple. Cyber Deal Daily crafted an effective Facebook ad for a product that, to the uninformed, might seem like a great buy. And when you see the "regular" $179.99 price slashed to $89.99, you can't help but think you're scoring an amazing deal.

Note to self: Make a Facebook ad for a cool tech gadget, charge double, retire to tropical island.

Facebooker beware

I've seen similar ads and videos for other gadgety products: LED valve caps, dashboard phone-mounts and so on. In every case, the Facebook seller was charging more than you'd pay elsewhere, at least if you shopped around a bit.

For example, the Nato Mount is a universal dashboard mount, with an adhesive magnetic disc and a pair of steel plates that you stick to the back of your phone (or inside of your case). Price for one: $19.99. I checked Amazon for the same product and, sure enough, it was $19.99 there as well.

But the Nato Mount is virtually identical to dozens of similar products -- including this one from WizGear, which sells for $8.99.

The LED valve caps? One Facebook seller charged $21.99 for a set of six; without breaking a sweat, I found a 20-pack (!) of the exact same product for $15.99.

So, yeah: The moral of the story is, if you see something you like in a Facebook ad, don't be swayed by the breathless enthusiasm ("This product changed my life!") or claims of total newness. Instead, hit up other online stores and look for the same thing. Chances are good you'll find it, and probably for a lot less.

Watch this: Facebook, Instagram try to take on digital addiction

The Cheapskate: Follow Rick's invaluable daily deals here at CNET.

Originally published on April 25, 2017.
Update, Aug. 8: Added new information.