By: David Gewirtz
Summary: Would you spend $100 for something when you can get it for $10? Of course not. What about $500, when you can get it for $2.50? No way. But chain retailers think you will.
Gather ’round, boys and girls, for I have a ghost story to tell. Once upon a time, in days of yore, chain stores dotted the land. There were Best Buys and Targets and Walmarts. Even Circuit City stores had yet to find their way to the Great Mall in the Sky.
These were the days before the Internet, before the people had choices, when all the commoners in the land relied on, nay, even trusted, their local retail establishments.
But then came the Internet and online commerce, and the peasants now had choice. They weren’t limited to buying just what was available within driving distance. They could, you know, surf, and they could learn.
And learn they did. The little people, peasants, commoners alike, learned that they could go online to order stuff. And they learned that the stuff was often more plentiful and often less expensive than in the chain stores. And the peasants ordered from The Online and it was good.
Except, perhaps, it wasn’t so good for the chain stores, which have yet to learn their lesson. Many chain stores are destined for death. Behold, whilst I mix a metaphor and submit to the court Exhibit A: HDMI cables.
Those shmucks in retail
So, this weekend, I had a cable failure. I have a TV that’s about 20 feet or so from my HDMI switcher. As it turns out, this cable often gets moved, so it eventually failed. My wife decided to take a quick run to the Walmart (at 2am, of course) to pick up a replacement cable. She didn’t find a 25-footer, but she did find two 12-foot cables that could be connected together.
Total price, not counting the connector: $112 (that’s $56 per 12-foot cable). In other words, holy s@#t! Fortunately, Walmart has an exceptional return policy, which is why Walmart is not likely to go the way of Circuit City and, almost undoubtedly, Best Buy.
Now, I’ve been buying HDMI cables for years, but I buy online and they’re relatively cheap. On the other hand, family and friends often complain about how insanely expensive HDMI cables are, because they’ve bought cables in local chain stores. They’ve told me they feel they have to pay the price because they want to play their PS3s, their new HDTVs, and so forth.
This got me to thinking. What’s the difference in price between retail and online for HDMI cables?
In other words, just how much is retail ripping off the local buyer?
The answer is mind-blowing.
I looked at Target, Walmart, GameStop, and Best Buy. Best Buy’s prices belied the name, in that they were fully insane. But let’s start with merely overpriced.
Target charges $27 for a single, 6-foot cable. Walmart charges $27, and GameStop charges $29.99 for a PS3-branded 6-foot cable. By contrast, you can get a 6-foot HDMI cable online for $3.50 from Monoprice.
In other words, the retailers charge seven times more.
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