Fry's $29.90 USB Cable Open Box Price? Only $47.49

I took this photo at Fry’s Electronics last night in Anaheim, California- And here I was thinking Best Buy was the only company to price their open box items at a premium. This Sony Ericsson data cable costs $29.90 unopened at Fry’s Electronics. If you’d like the ‘pre-used’ variety, it’ll cost you $17.59 MORE.

Awesome. I didn’t bother bringing it to their attention.

The open box price hike gnomes strike again!

(Photo:Thanks, Brett!)


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  1. snazz says:

    i used to think that these mistakes happened when the retail price of something lowered, and the open box item wasnt accounted for. but i cant imagine this cable ever cost anything close to $50.

  2. Buran says:

    I’m sure someone will come along and ask why this is news. For the answer to that, see my comments on the Best Buy mouse story from last week.

  3. RvLeshrac says:


    The Best Buy story was just crap (even though it was Best Buy) – the explanation has been offered OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER again, and the story precisely fit the pattern.

    *THIS*, however, *IS* news – there’s no way that this was the same “Don’t want to make new clearance tags for everything in the store that was opened every single week” situation.

    The clearance tag on the item is probably for a different item – it shouldn’t be hard for someone to spot, though. Note that, in the picture, the pricing is *clear,* while the rest of the image is so horribly blurred that no one would ever be able to determine what’s really wrong here without seeing the real package.

  4. Asvetic says:

    I wonder if this is some plan to skirt lose prevention costs.

    When I worked at Staples years ago, we had one employee how’s sole job was to write returned, damaged and stolen items off. She would do what she could to get the cost of the item as low as possible (if recycling or repackaging the item weren’t viable options.)

    It kinda makes since if you think of it this way… it cost the company to write a returned item off, but if someone buys it (at an increased price) the company makes their money back and then some. I’m sure statistically, there is at least one person who will pay the price. All the while they never offer a product below profitability (you might still have the option of purchasing an never opened product). If after some time it doesn’t sell and the original item is marked down to clearance, then the open-item is also marked down. Resulting in the lowest possible number of items in stock before the item is counted as a lose. The companies are just hedging the bet.

  5. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Yeah, this is non-news. It’s pretty obvious (to me at least) that the “reduced price” sticker is old and worn. This is just a case of lazy sales associates not removing old stickers after the pricing changes. It will ring up as $29.90 at the register. And the $XX.90 indicates that this is a clearance item anyways.

  6. Beerad says:

    @Asvetic: I’m having some trouble following your logic. Doesn’t it just make sense in that case for the company to raise new product prices infinitely, if statistically there’s at least one person who will pay the price? The company makes their money back and then some on new items too — why wouldn’t this just apply to every item sold?

    I think the prevailing theory is that you cut your profit to make the sale (i.e., people will buy an open-box item, but at a lower price than normal).

    Everyone’s missing the point anyway — it’s worth more now because it’s VINTAGE!

  7. emax4 says:

    When, in the history retail sales, has a customer ever paid higher for a used item than a brand new, never-opened item? The only instances I can think of are action figures signed by the people they represent, vehicles that have been modified with better options and extras, and vintage or classic items used by famous figures or were part of a historic event. The data transfer cable does not fall into any of these categories.

    Why doesn’t someone who lives in the area of this Fry’s call the actual store and advise them of their mistake?

  8. RogueSophist says:

    If anyone is thinking of paying even the lower $30 price for a simple USB cable, please don’t. Think of the kittens.

  9. Asvetic says:

    @Beerad: No, I’m assuming statistically that there is one person who will pay the inflated open-box price, not everyone.

    It’s reversing the idea that the only way to sell the item is to reduce the price, which effects the overall profit just for that single item. Not all the unopened items.

    Anyway, everything is already inflated to reflect a profit percentage and the idea that stolen, damaged, returned items effects a products price point is already being done, this is a secondary measure to maintain that fluctuation between profit and lose prevention.

  10. Skeptic says:

    Nobody should buy anything open box from Fry’s.

    I returned a USB/Firewire PCI card that fired two of my hard drives. I told the customer service clerk the reason, she refunded my money (Fry’s is really good that way) and put a sticker on the card with the price reduced by $1.50!!! After what I told them they just knocked down the price and put the card back on the shelf!

  11. mikehager66 says:

    I’ve noticed as a frequent shopper at Fry’s that they will mark down an opened return 5 cents or 10 cents lower than a new unopened package. Why in God’s name would you purchase something used and returned for a few cents less than a new unopened product. I’ve never seen them marked above the regular price, but with the typical workforce in these places it would not surprise me.

  12. m4nea says:

    @snazz: it’s a sony cable. original price was probably close to $100.

  13. MBZ321 says:

    @m4nea: It is a shame the pic isn’t of the whole package, but to me it looks like a “generic” cable (one that can be had on ebay for 4 dollars at the most)

  14. accessmemorex says:

    “P – I – C”, You can call the magic person to enact a change and have 5 % lowered off the current price at the front by customer service, Take it up front and they will take 5% off the current price, Just ask for the person in charge, —–Fry’s employee for 2 years,

  15. fredmertz says:

    Ha! Someone who works at a retailer made a mistake! Double Ha!

  16. SacraBos says:

    @Skeptic: I love Fry’s, but I fully agree with you. They have knowledgeable people, nice stores, nice sales – but a returned item can be scary. I took back a MP3 player once (which wasn’t marked as a return) since the earbuds had obviously been in someones ear that could literally grow potatoes in them. Ick!

  17. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    Thing about fry’s is it doesnt mean that something is actually an open box. It just means it was bought and returned. It could have been sealed when returned but they still put these tags on.

  18. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    $30 for a cable and software to connect your phone to your computer? Gee, my T-mobile dash has a standard mini-USB port on it that I use a standard mini-USB cable with (that I already had laying around from my digital cameras), and I downloaded the software from Microsoft for FREE…

    Nice, Sony. “This phone’s $XX, but to USE it, you have to pay another $XX.”

  19. Skeptic says:


    Thing about fry’s is it doesnt mean that something is actually an open box. It just means it was bought and returned. It could have been sealed when returned but they still put these tags on

    True, but if Fry’s, or any retailer, doesn’t open an item upon return their is no guarantee that the product is actually in there. Boxes can be resealed and re shrink wrapped, especially by scam artists. Open box needs a bigger discount to be worth the risk. That is why stores are sometimes justified in charging restocking fees for non-defective item returns.

  20. moostrength says:

    I worked at a Best Buy as a sales person from 1995 to 1996, got moved to the tech bench (long before Geek Squad invaded Best Buy; back then we actually played Quake Team Fortress on the office on dial-ups). After being in there over a year, I got hustled into working in sales again, sued Best Buy, got moved back into the tech bench again; manager got moved. I quit several months later, and went on to bigger pastures in the IT world. The point of this is to establish that Best Buy has been doing the same tactics for over 10 years. Here’s what happens:

    I helped open store 295 Morse Rd in Columbus and store 163 at Tuttle Mall. I also helped open the Florence KY store (I think it was 161 but I suffer from CRS).

    One late night at Florence, one of the regional managers left his “green screen” account up. Knowing enough of their POS (That’s not “point” for the first word) system, I rummaged my way into their cost breakdowns for various items. I knew some skus off the top of my head, I got to see what Best Buy was buying items such as the glorious Acer Aspires, some Packard Bell Legends, and other fine quality warez.

    The most interesting was the fact that cables, like USB cables, Printer cables, speaker wire, etc had unbelievable markup. The same cable printer cable we were selling for $15 (This was pre-Gold level cable markup deals) to customers was costing Best Buy a whopping 19 cents. I just about crapped my pants.

    Fortunately this manager had left his post for long enough for me to scan about 2/5 of the mass of inventory with skui lookups that showed the manufactures cost. I have never doubted Best Buy’s ingenuity to make money, and this one is what happens.

    Those open box items usually get sold to some poor old person or other uneducated individual who isn’t wise enough to ask for a non-opened package. Sales staff would openly tell customers; sorry we’re out of stock or “this one is actually like 80% more expensive unopened so you’re really getting a GREAT DEAL!

  21. iamme99 says:

    I was in the Fry’s in Palo Alto, CA last week. Very disappointing! I was looking through the computer sections. The prices have gone up quite a bit there and the selection is quite limited. Fry’s used to be good store but I think it is on the decline these days. I passed through the small appliances section also and heard one sales person say to another that their returns for that day were EQUAL to their sales! That is not very good.

    Today, I stopped in the local Comp-USA. Two stories here:

    1. Mark downs are now 15%. There is still plenty of selection left. But they raised all the prices to list :)

    2. I passed some dweeb asking about a product that was out-of-stock. He says to the salesperson “When do you expect to get a new order in?” Salesperson looks at him and tells him “there won’t be any new orders, the store is closing.” Dweeb, playing with his cell phone as he talks to the rep says “Oh, I didn’t know that!” He sounded serious, like this was news to him.

    What’s funny is there are SIGNS ALL OVER THE DAMM STORE, hanging form the ceiling, on the windows, etc. saying “store closing”, “last chance”, etc.

    Some people really are just totally clueless!

  22. SaraAB87 says:

    Please go to to buy usb cables instead of paying the stores markup of 30$ on them.. please…

  23. astrochimp says:

    Wouldn’t “pre-used” be new?

  24. CPC24 says:

    @iamme99: Same story at the CompUSA here. Every time I go, people still seem shocked to find out they’re closing. “The whole company? WHAT?”

    Not to mention the no returns policy. I saw a customer with a return throw the product back at the manager because he didn’t read the dozens of signs that said “NO RETURNS”. He then flipped her the bird and said “F*** You” several times, with several children in earshot!

  25. jbohanon says:

    After buying a Wii from Frys online last Christmas, I will never do business with them again. I was lucky enough to find one in stock (albeit with 3 games, only one of which was remotely intriguing) ten days before Christmas. It didn’t ship for a month and in the process of trying to find out when it would ship their phone system was jacked up and would disconnect you after 15 minutes. I wasted a ton of time. Then when the Wii shipped it came with only one game! Then, when the other two games hadn’t shipped for an extra month, I get an e-mail from them saying that since the two games are on back-order (both were available for cheaper than their price about a block away from me), I had to actually call them to confirm that I wanted to keep my order open or they would cancel it. Hoping that I could just cancel what was left on the order, I called them only to find out that the bastards would make me ship the Wii back if I did that. A quick call to executive customer service got that problem fixed.

  26. lore says:

    Of course you should pay a premium!

    And why shouldn’t you? It was tested for you and verified that it wasn’t something is worth keeping!

  27. nlatimer says:


    Hmmm, depends on if you read it as before used, or used before.

  28. Deusfaux says:

    “Awesome. I didn’t bother bringing it to their attention.”

    Then don’t bother bringing it to ours! It’s a very common and very understandable human error 99% of the time.

    The open box price is calculated based on one price. Some time in the future, the regular price on those items drop – which is a very easy and sweeping procedure, yet all open box items need their own special treatment from individuals.

    This moment could have happened within minutes between the 2 events happening, or it could have been missed or have forgotten.

    This is NOWHERE near notable – hardly moreso if you actually HAD approached somebody, and perhaps they refused to adjust the OB price accordingly.

    Consumerist, please stop with these ones already. If you worked in retail you’d know how this is a total non-issue and common to any place with open box policies.

  29. S-the-K says:

    This is OT, but the more things change the more they stay the same.

    I have not been into a Fry’s Electronics in a couple decades, at least since I left California. However, in my desk drawer I have the package from a NEC V20 chip I bought from there upteen years ago.

    What amazed me is that the price/inventory tag is still the same — same size, same font, everything!