Best Buy: We Charge More For An Open Item

At first when reader Brian sent this photo of an open item that cost more than a new one, we thought, “HA! Stupid!”

Then we realized that no, it’s not stupid. They’re just charging a modest $2 fee to open that ridiculous #$%@$ clamshell packaging for you. And as far as we’re concerned— it’s a deal.

(Photo: Brian)


Edit Your Comment

  1. roflcopter99 says:

    They’re not charging you a fee for the packaging. The tag is probably a misprint, as our inventory system (RSS) sometimes prices Open Box items innacurately. That price would be audited the next morning and removed (if their merch team was competent – which surprisingly, most are)

  2. shan6 says:

    I wish Wii component cables could be had for 9 bones.

  3. faust1200 says:

    No doubt, Meg! You need the freakin jaws of life to open those damn things.

  4. jwarner132 says:

    This could be a case of the open item being on the wrong tag. It could be a 6ft cable instead of the 3ft that the tag says. I can’t read the little bubble on the front of the open box that says how long the cables are. Accessory prices, especially cables, don’t fluctuate in price too often at BBY.

  5. target_veteran says:

    This happens all the time with custom stickered items. I used to see it all the time at Target. Basically, an item will have a price drop, but any custom stickers for damaged items printed before/around the price drop won’t reflect it. Usually, you can just flag down a clerk and they’ll recalculate the discount based on the current price. This isn’t really a big deal.

  6. Beerad says:

    @shan6: Yes, it’s too bad that they cost like $15.

  7. DrGirlfriend says:

    i think the packaging thing was meant as a joke?

  8. @Beerad: Accessories are marked up so much at big box retailers. I buy all cables and such online. Try for all your wiring. When I bought my LCD tv, they tried to sell me an HDMI cable for $75. I knew I could get a better deal online, and I did- $5. And it works great. I got a Wii Component cable there too.
    Eat that, HH Gregg.

  9. ExVee says:

    I’d personally rather buy one of those fancy electric clamshell openers than not only buy a previously opened package at retail, but apparently pay $2 more for the “privilege.” Of course, this is likely a simple error as already said, but I still wouldn’t buy an open package. On the other hand, I would and have bought floor models completely without packaging. My TV and VCR both were Circuit City floor models, and my TV has worked absolutely perfect for …probably almost ten years. I forget exactly what year it was, but Power Rangers was still in the Lost Galaxy. Anyway, I am clearly a mass of contradiction. And possibly incandescent gas.

  10. tadowguy says:

    @RoflCopter99: Best Buy is competent. Right. If you believe that, I have some Rockies World Series tickets that I bought online yesterday I’d like to sell ya.

  11. Sam2k says:

    It costs more because its been personally tested for you. :)

  12. RumorsDaily says:


    I took the picture, the cables were both three feet and were both component video. As far as I could see, they were identical.

  13. Voyou_Charmant says:


  14. sporesdeezeez says:

    @thisaintsweettea: I feel you.

    Come on, Consumerist. I love your blog and I enjoy getting valuable tips and work-safe snark from it, but I fear you’re going to spoil it with this price-tag-candid-camera thing. Remember the boy who cried “wolf?”

    I get the lesson – read the numbers, not the colors – but it needn’t be reinforced with this frequency. These things are easily attributable to error and not malice, aren’t they? I worked in journalism and I know the agony of a slow news day…but c’mon.

  15. jwarner132 says:


    Alrighty then, scratch that idea.

    I ran into similar problems when I worked for Best Buy. Let’s say a computer’s normal price was $1000. If it was open box, we had to mark it at 15% less: $850. But let’s say there was a $200 mail-in-rebate on the computer, but the open box item was missing the box (and the UPC on the box) so there was no way to get the rebate on it. This would mean that the final price of a new computer would be $800 but the open box one remained at $850, meaning nobody in their right mind would buy it. We would explain this to management over and over again, but they wouldn’t let us discount the open items past 15%. This caused lots of open-box PCs to accumulate in our store. This intensified the problem because an open-box item would stick around so long that new-in-the-box versions of that PC were no longer being sold. Since they were no longer being sold, the price of the item wasn’t being updated to lower prices as the technology got older. This means that, if it was still in the store, an open box Pentium 3 machine today might still have an open-box tag of $850 on it… 15% off of the last known price of $1000 for a new one.

  16. marsneedsrabbits says:

    I saw a device designed to open clamshell boxes a couple of months ago. It is a knife blade-y thing with the blade shielded so that you don’t cut yourself.
    Then I noticed that the thing is packaged in a clamshell box itself and my head almost exploded.

  17. Justin42 says:

    Best Buy used to have some great discounts on open box cables– about 75% of the cabling used in both my home theater system and my parents’ was bought open box from Best Buy. It seemed I was regularly getting around 40-50% off retail price. (and I happen to really like the ARII cables they sell– definitely nicer than generic cables while nowhere near as overpriced as Monster) Then about 2-3 years ago they wisened up and the discounts dropped to about 5-10% off retail. Oh well, it was good while it lasted. :)

  18. jaewon223 says:

    it’s easy to bash best buy mainly because they suck at everything, but to be fair this could be a misplaced item. not trying to make accusations to the photographer, but the open item could have just been placed under a cheaper rack.

  19. Shadowfire says:

    @ExVee: Why would you not save a few bucks and buy an opened cable? It’s cable, it’s not like the previous purchaser put roach eggs inside of it knowing that they could infest your house a month or two later…

  20. Beerad says:

    @Juice Box Hero: Yeah, I was kidding, implying that you can in fact get cheap cables, but as we all know, sarcasm sometimes reads funny in plain text. I think I did pay like $15 for my Wii component cable online, and if I could have saved 5 bucks at some other online retailer I don’t really care that much.

  21. Vilgrom says:

    I was at Best Buy over the weekend and saw the same deal with a certain keyboard. The new ones were about $5 cheaper than the opened one.

    The new keyboards were all marked down and the open item apparently wasn’t adjusted for the markdown.

  22. endless says:

    this happens fairly often on things say, memory cards or other small sale items.

    Saturday night you get your returns to put back on the shelf, so you discount them. The next morning stockers put up the new tags reflecting sale prices, and or price changes. The sale price is lower than what you decided to discount the open items, boom.

  23. tmanAg08 says:

    @sportsdeezeez: Agreed. Is this really post-worthy?

  24. UpsetPanda says:

    How do we even know that the merchandise hanging in the photo is the same as what is described on the tag above it? I don’t see any obvious marking to indicate they are the same. I went to Best Buy this morning and was browsing iPod accessories. Some of the items were put in different hooks, and unless you took the rogue object and tracked down its rightful description, you may have thought you found a deal (or a ripoff).

  25. rmz says:

    I’m reminded of that one Penny Arcade comic from several years back with Space Devil and the Xbox controller packaging.

  26. beka2410 says:

    I’m fairly sure this post was intended as a joke… they aren’t really suggesting that best buy is intentionally charging you for the package removal, but instead using humor to point out a pricing error on an item.

  27. jwarner132 says:

    I would advise you to read all of the comments for a post before you make your own comments. You can see that I brought up the same concern, but that RumorsDaily cleared it up for me.

  28. shades_of_blue says:

    @Beerad: 15? try 35 for official Nintendo component cables. maybe 15 for those POS unshielded Madcatz cables, or the shitty Pelican cables. But not real Nintendo component cables.

    BTW you can get sick deals on Psyclone Competition Cables off eBay. Supposedly they’re similar to Monster Cable, in terms of quality. If that’ true or not, I don’t know, as I have not compared the two against each other. But I know my PS2 Monster Cable kicks the shit out of Sony’s official cables. And the Psyclone Comp Wii Component Cables I got from eBay work fantastic.

  29. skrom says:

    You can buy your cheap ass $5 HDMI cable at monoprice. Ill pass on that piece of no name garbage. I doubt is has gold plated connecters and I doubt the cable is nitrogen injected and probably allows RF interference through the insulation. I used to think all cables are the same until I worked at a store that sold TVs and we set up a display with 2 identical TVs. One with cheap ass cables hooked up and 1 with quality cables hooked up and you could see a NOTICABLE difference when looking at them side by side. If just good is OK with you, then buy your cheap ass monoprice cables. I prefer to buy quality items, and no it doesnt have to be Monster but it does have to be quality. Its like buying a Digiorno pizza over a pizza with a white lable that says “pizza” on it.

  30. jhofker says:

    @Juice Box Hero: Monoprice is amazing. Really, there should be a Consumerist/Lifehacker article just on them and how not to put up with overpriced cables.

  31. MrEvil says:

    @skrom: You do realize a digital signal is either there or it is not right? There is a considerable threshold that differentiates a Hi (1) signal from a Lo (0) signal. It doesn’t matter how much shielding or arcane magic is put into the cable the Digital signal is either there or it’s not. There’s no in between.

    It might be remotely true in analog, but even then, there’s no justification for buying a $50+ cable.

    Of course, you’re probably just being facetious….so I’ll shut up now.

  32. avantartist says:

    i just saved $10 on two open box items at best buy today… one was 50% off and the other was 25% off [i thought it was a great deal because i wouldn’t have to fight open the package].

    i did although look at a open box digital slr camera kit they had that was $100 off but missing the lens.
    $799-$100 = $699 [for a camera body]
    which just so happens to be the same price as if you bought the camera body alone new.

  33. whitjm5 says:


    Wii component cables can be had for $7.99 shipped here.

    Bought mine yesterday. They also have a PAIR of 6 ft HDMI cables for $9.99 shipped here. <—the consumerist had this in their daily deals yesterday.

  34. @SKROM: I agree that premium cables are worth it for analog, but digital is pass/fail. Even if there was a marginal difference, there’s no way it’s worth $70.

  35. shades_of_blue says:

    @skrom: ‘premium grade’ cables offer little to no advantage for short distances when they’re digital, such as the case of SPDIF/TOSLINK, HDMI and DVD-D. The only time a premium cable should be bought in these cases is if you require distances which meet or exceed what the standard specifies.

    For example, I wanted a very long DVI-D to HDMI cable, so I bought a 16 foot Monster Cable 800 series cable for around $22 shipped, from eBay.

    A 5 dollar 2 foot HDMI cable would only bother me because it’d look out of place against most of my cables. Again, eBay is a great place for deals on these. I saw Psyclone HDMI cables for around $10 plus shipping, they retail for around $100 at Best Buy.

    Don’t own one thou [HDMI cable], as I took my 42″ LCD TV back…failed in less than 10 days. Kinda pissed me off, as that’s why I bought the DVI-D to HDMI cable. The cable is awesome, perfect picture, unlike the POS VGA cable I tried on it.

  36. bbyboy says:

    One possible explanation is that the price was dropped after the open item tag was put on and no one had gotten around to repricing the open item. Any decent cashier would just take the 10 percent off the price that rings up in the register. This isn’t unusual as open items tend to sell after the other unopened items are gone, especially with accessories.