Update- Read The Latest On Circuit City’s Closing LINK


Circuit City’s posted “current” price in a “closeout” store is not the same as Circuit City really charges (at its own website) for the same product. It is tagged significantly higher with five out of five TVs surveyed!

The HD Guru priced five HDTVs at its closeout store in Massapequa, NY. Comparing the original and 10% off closeout prices with prices listed at Circuitcity.com revealed the “current” pre-closeout price written on the price tags was actually $200 to $400 higher than the “real” current selling price of all five HDTVs at CircuitCity.com . After the 10% off closeout price is taken into account, 3 out of 5 HDTVs remained $60-$100 more than the same item at Circuit City’s website!

A Circuit City spokesman was contacted by email. At press time we are waiting for a  response (the site will be updated when a response is received). The HDTVs priced are as follows

Model/Store Price/10% Off Price/ “True” Current CCWeb Price

Samsung/PN50A550 $1999.99  $1799.99  $1699.99
Samsung/LN46A550 $1699.99  $1529.99  $1449.99
Samsung/LN52A750 $2999.99  $2699.99  $2699.99
Sony/KDL40V4100  $1399.99  $1259.99  $1199.99
Sony/KDL52XBR6    $3499.99  $3149.99  $3299.99
This week Circuit City (CC) announced the closing of 155 of its stores. The doors of these stores were reopened yesterday (Nov. 5, 2008) for a closeout sale. Hilco Trading is conducting the sale under their sale policies. Visiting a local reopened CC store revealed a “No Return” rule that is markedly different from Circuit City’s previous store policies. Use the information below to help you decide which items you may want to consider purchasing on closeout.

All of the merchandise in the 155 closeout stores is marked down.  Currently, sealed HDTVs are 10% off the Circuit City’s tag price. Video game consoles are at 5% off, DVDs and Blu-ray discs are tagged at 20% off, video/audio cables were at 15% off, DVD/Blu-ray players 10% off and TV stands were at 15% off (the percent discount may increase in the near future, depending on how fast the remaining merchandise moves). A warning: all sales in the closing stores are “FINAL” and all merchandise is sold “As Is”. If you take an item home and encounter a defect, you are only covered by the manufacturer’s warranty; there are no returns, refunds or exchanges. For this reason, the HD GURU highly recommends you confirm a sealed HDTV is undamaged before purchase. If you do not check it first and there is concealed damage, the product probably will not be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Also, beware that under Hilco’s rules, you cannot “power-on” a new HDTV to confirm it is functional before purchase.  This means: if the set is dead when you get it home, you will have to get it repaired under warranty before you can use it. Depending on the maker, parts and service availability, this could take days or weeks.

Open Box and Display Merchandise

All display products are being treated as “open box” currently with the same 10% discount, however, according to the salesperson at CC and confirmed by a Hilco representative, you can try to negotiate with a manager to obtain a lower price. HD Guru suggests you choose the of the make and model you want to purchase before attempting to bargain the price. Also, check out the lowest on-line price for the same model. You can use the HD GURU/Pricegrabber link on the lower left side of this web page.  Different types of HDTVs have different issues concerning demo products. Here are tips for all HDTVs and specifics for plasma, rear projectors and LCD flat panels.

On the back of every HDTV is the date of manufacture. Learn the date. You should assume the TV went up on display shortly thereafter, as the big box retailers tend to get the new merchandise upon release and put it on the floor quickly. Based on Circuit City store hours of operation, you should estimate 400 hours a month use.  Keep in mind all displays are in the brightest “showroom” mode, which minimizes the life of the light source, phosphors in plasmas, fluorescent lights in LCD flat panels, and lamps in rear projectors. According to the CC salesperson, none of the display products have the original boxes or packing materials (more on this later). Verify the demo model has the following parts, if missing, you will have to purchase a replacement at your own expense and you should use this as a bargaining tool. The Owner’s Manual (replacement up to around $50 for the original, though you may be able to download and print off the manufacturers website), Table Stand for flat panels (replacement cost around $300), Power Cord and included cables and accessories (around $10-$50).  Original Box and packing material if you need to ship the TV back to the manufacturer for repair (up to $300 if ordered from the manufacturer). The original factory remote control is required to assure you have access to all functions including service codes (should the set require service adjustments in the future). Check the owner’s manual to assure the remote provided is the same model remote control supplied with the TV (replacement is about $50-$100). Set makers often pack unique remotes for certain models.

Here are the specific caveats for the three types of displays.


Set makers generally rate the lifespan (to half brightness) of LCD flat panels at 60,000 hours, however these claims are unsubstantiated and one company’s internal test data puts the life at around 15,000-20,000 hours. Therefore, if the demo model is 10 months old, it has already used up about 10%-25% of its lifespan (10 equals about 4,000 hours use). You should bargain the price down accordingly. Make sure you c\Check the surface of the screen for scratches or permanent marring. LCD screens have special surface filters. Screen surfaces are not repairable and require a panel replacement, which costs about the same as replacing the TV.


Set makers generally rate plasma lifespan at 60,000-100,000 hours, though this in the lower wearing “home” mode not brighter shorter life “store demo” mode. I guesstimate the lifespan in store demo mode is about one-half the hours (30,000- 50,000). Calculate usage and bargain accordingly based on its remaining life. Also, check for screen scratches and reject the plasma if you see one.

Rear Projectors (DLP)

Check for screen defects (scratches, cracks or marring) and reject the TV if present. Replacing a screen is impractical (estimates cost  $400-$700) and probably isn’t covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Projection lamps generally have a lifespan of about 2000 to 3000 hours and cost $100-$400 for a bulb replacement module. Manufacturer’s lamp warranties (if any) generally cover bulbs for a short periods after purchase (typically around 1-3 months)

Getting Your Flat Panel Back Home Without Damage

You should never lay down a Plasma and LCD flat on its back or face. If placed this way the glass in the screen can easily crack making the TV useless.  Flat panels should always be upright (even if in the factory carton) supported on the bottom on a flat surface (such as the back seat cushion). If the display is uncrated, it’s best secured mounted on its factory supplied table stand. Have someone hold it so it does not tip and break while transporting it. An alternative transport method, lean the front face of the TV’s bezel against the seat back, cushioning it across the back panel and edges with blankets to protect it. Once properly cushioned and protected, you may use seatbelts or bungee cords to secure in the TV in place. NEVER have anything apply pressure to the screen and never support the TV on the screen. A cracked flat panel is not repairable, as the panel must be replaced. The cost of the new panel and labor will equal or exceed the price of the HDTV.

DVD and Blu-ray Players

Disc players are mechanical devices and wear out based on usage. HD Guru recommends you stay away from a demo model, however, if you must consider one, make sure all functions work properly such as drawer opening and closing, properly, access doors are not broken and all rear jacks are intact. Confirm the inclusion of the owner’s manual and remote control. Remember, name brand Blu-ray players will be available on sale in a few weeks for $149 or less. Good luck.

Copyright ©2008 Gary Merson/HD Guru  All rights reserved. HD GURU is a registered trademark. The content and photos within may not be distributed electronically or copied mechanically without specific written permission.