Pay no attention to those ridiculously cheap TV sets and game systems—also called doorbusters—that retailers use to lure in hordes of holiday shoppers, notes CNN. They’re the equivalent of that little dangly thing anglerfish use to catch food.
Here are some of the ugly facts about doorbusters in CNN’s article:
1. There are usually very few—maybe just a couple—of items per store, so catching one is more like winning a drawing than going shopping.
2. Cheap electronics aren’t necessarily of the same build quality as regular priced models from the same company. Both our readers and our parent publication, Consumer Reports, have noted this practice of selling “derivative” items at steep discounts to unsuspecting consumers.
3. Rainchecks are rare, but don’t always matter even when they’re offered. Sometimes a store never gets enough additional inventory in to fulfill the demand they create by promoting such steep discounts. The same thing can happen to online orders—you may end up waiting months for some answer from the retailer on when you’ll get your appliance (or just as likely an alternative).
“It’s a sleazy practice,” said Craig Johnson, retailing expert and president of retail consulting group Customer Growth Partners.
“I am old school,” said Johnson. “If a retailer is advertising a juicy deal and they are not prepared to have in sufficient quantity, don’t advertise it. Or give consumers a raincheck.”
Johnson said it’s not enough for retailers to mention that they’ll have such limited quantities of a product on one of the most-hyped shopping days of the year.
“Retailers aren’t winning any customers. They are just pissing off people,” he said. “It’s poor retailing practice.”