Getting The Best HDTV Price

May 29th, 2008 · 84 Comments · LCD Flat Panel, Microdisplay Rear Projection, Plasma

Readers often ask how to obtain the best price on a new HDTV. The HD Guru shares his retail secrets here based on his vast national and regional consumer electronics management experience.

Among the differing types of stores that sell consumer electronics are 1) those that have posted fixed shelf prices, don’t offer price matching policies and pay employees salaries as opposed to commissions (i.e.: Wal-Mart and various “warehouse”clubs) 2) those that match competitors’ prices (with various restrictions), have salaried sales people and generally have posted fixed shelf prices (Best Buy , for example) and 3) those that have commissioned sales people and a “negotiable” sales floor.

The third group tends to be local and regional chains. They are your best bet to get the hottest deal. (If you don’t know how the salespeople are paid, call and ask; the store personnel will tell you. Most commissioned sales floors are negotiable.)

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First, do your homework. Decide how much you want to spend, what size screen you want within your budget and the display technology you’d prefer (LCD, LED, plasma, DLP rear projector). The HD Guru’s seating distance chart can help you pick the optimum screen size. Research on-line reviews to help you narrow your choices.

Next, take a look at the set(s) in person. Pick stores in the first and second group, avoiding the “commissioned sales” retailers, for reasons that will be explained later. Also, check the Best Buy and Circuit City prices for that week.

Finally, do some on-line price checking. The Pricegrabber ads on the right side of the HD Guru’s web page are a good place to start. Other shopping sites include Amazon. Com, and In order to calculate total delivered price, check shipping costs and determine if local sales tax applies.

Once you’ve determined the make and model set you want and have the best on-line prices, it’s time to get the best deal from your local store.

When the commissioned salesperson at your local store approaches, deliver the following: “I have already decided the make and model of the HDTV I want to purchase. I am now shopping for the best price. I want a (your brand here), model (your model number here). You have it tagged at $$$, I can get it for $$$. Can you beat the price?”

This makes the commissioned salesperson’s job really easy. While the commission decreases as the price drops, he or she has invested zero time in the transaction, which makes it a “found sale” requiring only a lower price than the one you’ve quoted. Compare that with having to spend an hour or more with a “just looking” customer and you’ll understand why the salesperson will be willing to see your bid and lower it.

You may be asked the source of your retail price, which you should divulge. It’s a good idea to have a backup price and retailer in the event the salesperson claims your first retailer is not an authorized dealer (, and national retailers Best Buy and are all authorized dealers for the brands they sell).

If the salesperson beats the price, you have several options depending upon what your time is worth: You may make the deal, content that at the moment you have the cheapest price, or you may want to shop another store, or another branch of the same chain, since many “negotiating floor” chains have a policy that requires sales people to beat the price of another store in the same chain, figuring the company would rather make the sale than let it go to another chain.

If you have the time and want to make the effort you can keep going until you reach the point where the other store will just match (or refuse) the best price you have on hand.

Often, when a store beats your best price and you respond by telling the salesperson that you want to keep shopping, the response might be, “What price do you need to buy the set right now?” Have that price in mind to close the deal, unless you really like shopping!

A few more tips

All salespeople try to recoup lost profits (and commissions) by offering add on services (delivery, installation, extended warranties) and accessories (i.e. expensive HDMI cables). Avoid the latter. If you want the store to deliver the set, determine the charge prior to negotiating price. Learn the store’s return policies and make sure you accept the terms before buying the set.

If a set with hidden damage is not returnable for an immediate replacement, insist that the one you buy is unpacked for your inspection and make sure it works before taking it home.

The HD Guru is not a big advocate of extended warranties, especially if they cost more that 10% of the price of the set. Keep in mind that many gold and/or platinum credit card providers (American Express, MasterCard, ) will double the manufacturer’s warranty for free (check terms and conditions with the respective credit card companies). Most top name brand HDTVs come with a one-year parts and labor factory warranty.

The HD GURU has written extensively about the futility of buying high priced HDMI cables. You can purchase a perfectly good one on-line for under $3 dollars, or get one at a discount store like Wal-mart for around $20.00. If you want to purchase one when you buy the set, it should be easy to negotiate the price since they all have huge margins.

Remember: in a “negotiating floor” consumer electronics store, you can bargain the price of any item, not just the HDTV!

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


84 Comments so far ↓

  • Bruce Spivey

    Do you ever talk to the sales people at a store where they make only commission. We offer more service and product knoweledge than the big box boys ever did. If you’re elderly parents buy a TV from a huge chain and can’t figure out how to operate it in a week, call and try to get a hold of someone to talk you through it. Our sales people frequently go out to see our customers before of after hours to help them at no charge. I can’t tell you how many times a shopper has called my store to say ” can you tell me how to connect my system I just purchaed at B— B–? I can’t get anyone on the phone there to help me “. I have many people walk in the do and say they know they might pay a few dollars more to shop in my store rather than the big box stores, ( usually we are the same price ) but they know the service will be far better. I suggest you do a little more research my friend. My time and service is worth something

  • Londen bezienswaardigheden

    Agree with Club.

  • Club Penguin Cheats

    The customer who is just browsing, because there wife is in another department. They are there to pass time because they have so much to waste. Even though there intensions are good, they end up getting in everyone’s way. The chance of them really buying something is about 10%. They waste everyone’s time while there wasting there own.

  • P.J.Zornosa

    Not ALL sales persons are hell bent on what makes them the most amount of money. Some actually DO lnow their products and make a sincere attempt to make the best recommendation for the customer. It is as much an art as a science. (For someone who has never ‘sold” anything, they thin it is “easy”.

    A true professional will recommend what in their professional experience and determining what the customer’s needs are will make a suitable recommendation which may change the value proposition. The key is to find the right salesperson.

    If you go into a MCDonald’s and offer less than the going price for Big Mac please tell me that they’ll allow you to “haggle” over the price.

    Cheesh. Everyone deserves to make a living. Plus, Video as a category characteristically has a very low profit margin ANYWAY!

  • G--

    All you sales people mad because people shop for the best price and “waste your time,” do you go to your local auto dealership and pay sticker price? I don’t either.

  • Scott

    dschiavone: I don’t need installation. I don’t need setup of a HDTV or “surround”. I’ll be unique and do it myself.

    Processor HDMI out -> cable in -> HDMI HDTV slot. Repeat for processor to source.
    Speaker out to speaker terminal. + red / – black.

    Now, if you own what I have, you couldn’t set it up. Lexicon MC-12 Balanced, Sony BDP-5000, DVDO VP50Pro, Fujitsu Plasma 1080i with DVI input, 9 channels of amplification using 4-seperate amps. 4-way Snell Type “A” Reference system with two non powered 18″ subs, dipole, rear, center left and right speakers. Now dial in the correct delay for the various speaker-to-sitting locations, set to 75db using a sound pressure meter for all speakers.

    Ah, now that’s a system and I bet you have no idea who the following manufacturers are:

    What the box stores sell doesn’t need very talented folks to put it together, so stop making it sound so “valuable”. It’s not rocket science.

  • asb76

    Keith and those like him are the complete jerks that people who work retail just love dealing with who come in thinking they’re entitled just because they’re buying something. As if they don’t expect to make money doing whatever it is they do but god forbid a retail person is treated with respect. I’m glad I’m done working retail because anyone who has faith in humanity’s intelligence or common decency should spend a couple weeks at a clothing or electronics store or in food service. The customer is always right is the biggest joke in the world.

  • mjd

    DO Buy Extended Wattanty. Experience with 3 sucking Sony TVS has cost me thousands of dollars without the Extended Warranty. Sony’s service sucks even under warranty. I have learned my lesson at a high price. Don’t buy Sony and get the Extended Warranty on anything you invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in. Stock Market would have been better for me and it has been a big lost for a lot of people.

  • danielg

    Ive found shopping online will get you just as good, if not better prices than haggling with incompetent sales people at big box retailers. White glove delivery is brilliant too. im sticking to the internet.

  • antenna

    Ultimate Electronics has a pretty good sales pitch going on now..they will beat any local advertised price from Best Buy and Circuit City. They’re suppose to check their prices everyday! The catch is though if something is out of stock they don’t have to honor it. Happened to me last week!

  • Looney Toon

    Best Buy and Circuit are not on commission

  • WG

    I’ll buy extended warranty depending on the product and the price. If you know something that is known to break easily and the warranty is not that expensive, then gets it or else you can just skip it. I’ve bought a warranty for my ipod for $30 and its worth it because it broke after a year and i’ve had 2 replacement on the same item. I recently bought a tv for $800 and they wanted $349 for the warranty. That is almost 50% of the tv price. As we all know, tech items always go down on price over time. By the time both the credit card and manufacturer warranty on the tv expired, the tv will be obsolete. They will probably give you a newer model but what if it doesn’t break? Then you’ll be out those extra money. If the warranty is about $100-$150, then its reasonable but most of these warranty are overprice.

  • JN


    I believe that Matt is big enough to speak for himself and he can probable do it without resorting to using the “Caps Lock” key.



  • JN


    Your comparison with auto insurance doesn’t make sense. For one thing auto insurance will pay for physical damage. That, by your own statement, is not covered by your policy. In addition auto insurance pays for medical bills, theft and other events. The one thing a standard auto policy does not cover is if your vehicle breaks down. The insurance you push only covers you if the product stops working correctly.

    If someone were to purchase a home theater system from you I am sure you would try to push extended warranties on each item the person was purchasing. In reality the chances of those components all having a problems are extremely small. The best thing that a customer could do is put all of the money he or she would have spent on all of the extended warranties into a savings account. They could earn a bit of interest on their money and if they had a problem with one of the components after the original warranty was up, they would have the money to repair it. Also don’t forget that most credit cards double the original warranty up to an additional year.

    Extended warranties just equate to huge additional profits for the stores that sell them.

    With everything you have said, including the name calling, I really doubt you are the “pro” you say you are.

  • Matt

    But they do, Best buy, tweeter, are comissioned sales and they do know there stuff, some of the guys anyway. Theres also a big difference between selling a 32 inch lcd and a 80,000 doller crestron job throught out your entire home. Which is where a salesman is needed, I’d love to see you try and put anything like that together. I didnt say we used ourselves for the contracts and insurance i said we have our own service center. meaning the same company who hires salesguys also hires services techs so the same company will come to your home and service the set in home so learn how to read the txt before you try and act smart about somthing you obviously didnt understand you moron. yes i’m talking to you H. And yes sales guys are more informational and you can learn the same things from the internet but lets face it. Not everyone is computer savy hence why they come into stores, period. They dont understand electronics they just want to enjoy them. And bullying customers wont make you a sale so obviously you are stuck in the old days because thats not the way salesguys run things. Talk to a pro sometime you might learn somthing usefull.

  • H.

    @ Chris

    Just because the compay you work(ed) for had its own repair division doesnt mean the insurance plan (not legally or actually a warranty) isnt provided by a 3rd party (usually a major insurance provider such as AIG)company. Usually the the company that sells the plan gets a commission for selling these plans just like an auto insurance salesperson would. The repair devision covers the cost of the repair with money from the insurance provider. Read any “extended warranty” and you will almost never see the name of the store you purchased it at anywhere in the guarantee literature.

    Commissioned Sales is really a dated practice. Im not trying to offend anyone but i would say that 90% of commissioned salespeople are far from experts on the products they are pushing. Most of the time you can get equal or often better information then they have to offer through independent research without having a salesperson trying to bully you. This is why before the Internet became common in most households you had commissioned salespeople in most stores and now they are scarce outside of the auto-sales business. Wal-Mart, BB, and CC dont use commissioned sales people because it just isnt profitable to pay someone who might be an expert or might not. These companies sell more electronic equipment than any retailer that utilizes commissioned salespeople and have bigger profits. If people felt like commissioned salespeople equaled a better shopping experience and a more informed purchase they would demand them in big box stores but they dont.

  • Matt

    I’m going to start from the top and work my way down the list of arguments.haha. First i would like to say there are two types of salesman.
    1- they needed a job and its the only place that is hiring.
    2- They have huge intrests, know their stuff and love doing this all day everyday.
    I would consider myself a 2. I work at a a/v retailer because i love it.There is alot to know about everything and it takes alot of work so i would consider myself and other serious tv salesguys, pro’s.We have 100 different tv’s as well as receivers, speakers,keypads, surge protectors, remotes, cables, installation, lcd over plasma, led or dlp. Thats a whole mess of knowledge that has taken me years to build and I take my career very seriously.I have been sent away to trainging sometimes weeks at a time to catch up on the latest and greatest. A sales person’s job is not to sell you the biggest and priciest. There job is to take your needs, your wants and your budget and find the best possible product to match exzactly that. If I were to sell what I made most money on no one would come back in return i would lose money. If I sell somthing thats good for the customer at a good price and the customer is happy, then I will see them again. I have customers that have dealt with me and only me for years because i never over sell them. I put all there options and price on the table and narrow down there search and recomend a few similar products and they always make the final call. Most people coming in are referred by a previous customer or have no clue what they want and are looking for an experts opinion and installation. As far as price haggling, of course theres mark up’s on products. Somebody as to sell it right!! I will gladly match any local competitor and always check into the internet pricing. Of course sometimes it is possible and other times it is not. Every item has a different margin.If someone comes in saying they can get a set 500$ less from jacobsdiscount.screw I generally cant do much. But from a place like amazon i will do my best to match with a mgr’s approval. Of course adding other items to the ticket will help you get that better price. If someone wants a tv and only a tv -vs- a customer who would be a repeat shopper or looking into surround sound to complete the picture and a blueray, that guy has ten times the better chance of getting a better deal. It works this way like everything else in the world so dont make us look bad for it. As far as the warranties go thats another story. How many of you have car insurance??? thats right every single person!!! how many ppl have gotten in an accident and needed that insurance. I know i never have but yet its there in the event that anything does happen. I have my own service center and my own tech that comes to YOUR HOME and services the set on spot. that cuts down the time you are without your set. it is also less frustration for the customer who has a 60″ on a cantaleiver bracket and cant get it off the wall. Some people never have to use it but at the same point many do and are sure glad they have the extended warranty. Yeah it may start the day of your purchase but it avoids haveing to call samsung or sony or sharp ect… and just give us a call, i will have a tech in your home within a week. NO run around, we will cover everything except physical damage. So with the cost generally being between 100 and 400 dollars its a good investment. Some parts by themselves are double that!- i would consider the warranty, you never know when you get a lemon until its to late. Treat your sales guys the same way youd expect to be treated.

  • JN


    When I said that the sales people don’t tell the customer about when the warranty starts I was speaking about when they are pushing it at you. You normally don’t find that out until you purchase the policy and then read it at home.

    I never made a blanket statement about the none of the warranties being “in-house”. My actual statement was “Those warranties are usually through third-party companies.”

    Your quote “Always have been, always will be as long as advertising pays their salaries.” when speaking about Consumer Reports is baffling to me because they have NO advertising in any of their publications. I have a funny feeling you are thinking about Consumers Digest which I never trusted because of the fact that they sell advertising space in their magazine.

    Just to let you know, I have shopped at more stores than just CC or BB and what I have said in my previous post applies to all of the places, not just the “terrible twins”.

  • Chris


    There was no hiding from the fact that our warrantie started from day 1. It was in my post directly before yours. It was never something that was hidden because there are many circumstances that mfg warranties do not cover. However ours did. We filled in the blanks for them. Also mfg’s dont give you loaners while yours is out on repair. And also a lot of mfg’s only cover parts for a year. Labor and parts on a lot of TV’s really only runs 90 days.

    And again I must point out that your idea that all warranties are not handled by the actual company but a 3rd party is off. The company I worked for had our own repair division. Customers units were sent there to be fixed, tested and returned. So your blanket statement doesn’t always hold up. Although it is certainly the case with the big box stores.

    Lastly trusting consumer reports is a horrible idea. I have worked with electronics for many many years. Not just TV’s but computers, cell phones, peripherals and the list goes on. I remember back in the old days when they said Epson printers were the best. However from working in the store we all knew this was not the case. Same goes for today. They are very good on cars but horrible on the electronic end. Always have been, always will be as long as advertising pays their salaries.

    But to end on a good note. That guy does need to take his meds. :) haha


  • JN

    VJ, how long have you been off of your medication?

  • JN

    After reading this entire thread it seems to me that there is quite a bit of mis-information coming from the sales side. I would like to add my “two cents” here.

    Most of the sales people I have come across in my 40+ years of making major purchases fall into the category of knowing far less than I do about the product I wish to purchase. In addition those same people will try to steer you toward an inferior product compared to the one you wish to purchase because, maybe, they will make more on that item or the store has told them to push it. Please note that I have found, at times, very knowledgeable sales people who do try to help and seem to have your best interests in mind, but they appear to be in the minority.

    I have NEVER purchased an extended warranty. The few times a product I purchased has broken down, (my guess is less than 1%), it has been during the original warranty period. There has only been one time that an item I purchased failed after the original warranty ended, (it was a ZIP drive many years ago), and that was taken care of by the extended warranty that my credit card gives me.

    One fact that sales people seems to keep from the customer about the extended warranty is that it starts from day one. For example, if you purchase a television with a one year warranty and you purchase an extended 3 year warranty, you are really only going to get two years additional since the first year is already covered by the manufacturer. If your credit card company doubles the manufacturers warranty (usually up to an additional year) the cost of the extended warranty you purchased is really only paying for one additional year.

    Another fact the sales people will not tell you is that it is not the store, or chain, that is covering the additional years. Those warranties are usually through third-party companies. Only if the company that handles the warranty goes out of business or denies your claim will the store you purchased it from tell you that information.

    Consumer Reports has no ax to grind about extended warranties but they say these warranties are not necessary.

    As a side note, about 3 years ago I purchased an item from either Circuit City or Best Buy (sorry but I don’t remember which one). The cost was around $30.00. The sale person wanted to sell me a 2 year warranty for something like $24.00. When I mentioned to him that it would make more sense to just purchase a second unit for $6.00 more he thought about it for a few seconds before deciding that I was right. This episode tell me that these warranties are simply being pushed on people without the store giving thought to if they are even cost-effective.

  • Chris

    Not sure where Carl works. But where I worked it was very similar. You’d be surprised how much isn’t covered during the mfg warranty depending on the company. Which is why ours started on day one as well.

    We offered 3 and 5 yr protection programs that covered everything 100% and we gave you a loaner TV (of the same model or equivalent) to use until yours came back at no charge as well.

    And the part about if nothing happens in the first year or two is an old wives tale. Statistically most problems with televisions happen in the 4th year.

    Pioneer has one of the best mfg warranties out there. But once you are out of that warranty they are also the most expensive to repair. Hopefully most people never have to use them. But if you do run into problems in year 3, 4 or 5. You will wish you would have spent the extra but on peace of mind.

  • carl taylor

    The warranties we offer run concurrently with the mfg. warranty for the first year, then cover the product 100% for up to five years, whichever the customer chooses. During the first year, if the mfg. does not adequately help the customer (which does happen) we will contact the rep for the customer.
    Many products have problems after the first year, no matter if they are tv’s or washing machines.
    Also, if you call the mfg on your tv and it is determined that a circuit breaker tripped, you will probably have a trip charge. Not with our warranties.

  • Jimd

    Do you still recommend extended service for those who purchase high end products like Pioneer Elite, which comes with a 2 year warranty? Isn’t true that if a TV doesn’t break in the first or second year, then most likely it will not break after that? How long does extended warranty covers a product (3 – 5 years?) and what happens if it break after it expires? Is it possible that you purchase the extended warranty and still be in the same situation as the people who didn’t buy it after it expires? One reason that I don’t buy it is because it always starts on day 1 not after the manufacturer warranty has expired. So if I would buy a 3 year warranty on the Elite, it is really just 1 year. If I am wrong on that you can clarify.

  • carl taylor

    Since my May 30 post I have spoken with three consumers that purchased a plasma and two DLP’s that went south. One had extended service, two did not.
    Guess which two went nuts and said that they would have purchased the warranty if offered? They swore that we did not offer it to them (we ALWAYS offer it) and demanded to have the tv repaired at no cost to them. Fat chance.
    Buy the warranty, folks.

  • Chris

    If you skipped the delivery service in our store and didn’t mind dropping it off for your customer you avoided that cost. Amazon isn’t that much cheaper generally for a new item. They still have to work with a margin just like a sales rep would.

    And I’m glad you had a great experience with Amazon. But not everyone does, and I’ve heard the stories. What happens once you are out of warranty and need a repair? Guess you haven’t gotten to that point and I hope you dont. You got a decent set btw regardless of where you bought it. But if you do have an issue it will be much more difficult for you then going to a local smaller store who actually cares. Because we don’t work on smaller margins and make it up with more sales. That means we have to look out for you and keep you coming back.

    Weed? Really? That’s pretty low rent, but exactly what I’d expect from you based on your earlier posts.

    I did care about my customers, period! And a lot of us do. Another disadvantage of buying online. Especially with TV’s is that you can’t see the actual picture. So most customers go into a store and check them out and then get online to buy. Problem here is that if everyone does that. There won’t be stores left to view them at. Some people also still like knowing help is only a phone call and a few miles away. Knowing that they are getting accurate information from someone who does nothing else.

    And I seriously doubt you know how commissioned minds work. Have you ever worked a commission job? Or do you settle for an hourly rate/salary? The more I helped customers, the more customers I got. If I treated them well and they got the best possible price I made more money in the long run. Maybe if you actually applied yourself in life. Stopped bad-mouthing things you don’t understand rather then learning about them. You’d be enjoying a Kuro instead of an XBR.

  • Sam

    I did my research a year ago, and came up with the JVC 1080p 61″ …I was deffinetly pleased, and still am with my pick. ..Just make sure you check it out in the store first. I was pretty scared at first purchasing a TV online , I went with beachcamera. The service was great …the TV did end up having a problem internally, and I had to get it fixed, all under warranty..did not purchase extended.

  • VJ

    Chris, you price matched amazon ( and let go tax !!!) and dropped the TV home for free??. You must be on drugs. You guys must have charged people another couple of hundred dollars.
    I have been to those small stores and exactly know how you commission minded reps work. We need more people like HDguru to tell people how to shop online and ignore weeds like you

  • Chris

    VJ…Since you are apparently brain-dead I’ll break it down for you. There are more stores then CC or BB. Most people here didn’t even mention those two for professional advice because they are horrible. The store I worked at was smaller, more specialized and did all the same things you mentioned in your last post. We also matched Amazon’s pricing on almost all items. Sometimes we even beat it.

    Also with us you didn’t have to wait for your TV to come. We’d let you take it with you or drop it off. We’d also install it for you if you couldn’t do it yourself. We did things in people homes that would make your infantile little mind spin.

    Then to insult anyone who doesn’t shop with Amazon by calling them stupid? It’s the pot calling the kettle black. Use a spell check next time.

  • VJ

    The best way is to buy from Amazon. The most professional reps when you call. Unlike those kids in WorstBuy and CC. When you have to return or exchange a TV from amazon, NO QUESTIONS asked. So be a smart shopper. Buy online. The following are the great things from Amazon. That’s where I got my 52 Inch XBR

    NO Tax
    NO Shipping
    NO need of a SUV to haut TV home
    White-Glove shipping. They will take TV back if there is a problem
    One phone call to get refunds on price Gurantee
    Exchange is no pain. They pick up TV from home
    No arguing with reps for returns/Exchange. The reps are highly professional and return/exchange is a breeze
    The best price. Sometimes 50% less than BM stores.

    So why would anyone buy from BM stores these days. Only those who have no computers at home or those who or just plain stupid.

  • Auto Parts Pro

    Take it from experience, buy it locally and inspect for dagames at the store and then again when you get home. Double check asap. Leared the hard way what happends with damaged products.

  • Ronak

    Hey VJ, let’s see how motivated you get to help a customer when a prick that does what you do when you are only getting paid $8.50 an hour. If a customer walks genuinely asking for help, salespeople will take the time to help them get them what’s right for them. But when you come in, dick around and waste everyone’s time and say, “Sorry but I’m going to go buy online…” How do you expect to be treated?

  • Chris

    VJ…Wish I could respond to you with some intelligence. But I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t get it anyway.

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