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.