Diary of a Frustrated Black Friday Cyber Shopper

by Barrett

Hitting the malls to purchase your favorite doorbusters is so yesteryear.   This time, all I needed was my cup of Joe and my computer.  Or so I thought…

Hitting the malls to purchase your favorite doorbusters is so yesteryear. This time, all I needed was my cup of Joe and my computer. Or so I thought…

10:00pm, Thanksgiving evening-
Go to sleep early.
(too much tryptophan)
Must be frosty for Black Friday!

6:00am, Black Friday-
Wake up. Make coffee. Sit down and boot up iMac.

6:10am-
Navigate to Apple’s big one-day sale.
No real discounts anywhere in sight.
Deep sigh…

This year, Apple only offered gift cards towards future Apple Store purchases… Their previous Black Friday discounts were never that great to begin with, but this ‘evolution’ was even less inspiring.

6:30am-
Next stop – Amazon
Review list of Lightning Sales. Nothing electrifies.

Out of frustration I did put an $11 Rayovac ‘head lamp’ into my cart.
(My old geeky REI head-mountable flashlight had stopped working recently.)
It’s useful to have one of these flashlights around when you need an extra directional light source in front of you, and you can’t hold it in your hands.

6:35am-
PING!
Great deal on a Blu-ray Disc of ‘Star Trek into Darkness’ for just $7.99 on Amazon.
(Complete with digital download for Road Warrior’s iPhone.)

I said to myself, “Make it so!”
But then I noticed a review warning the universe this version didn’t contain enough of the fun bonus material.

6:40am-
Delay purchase.

Up further research, I uncovered a raging Star Trek fan controversy a few months back when four different Blu-ray Disc versions were released to separate retailers.
This sales tactic effectively split up all the extra content outside of the movie itself.  So no one version contained it all.

And Amazon’s Blu-ray package seemed especially lacking…
So I put away my phaser and cancelled the mission.

6:45am-
Rayovac deal on Amazon expires in cart.

6:50am-
Head over to Target.
See the fans’ ‘preferred’ Star Trek Blu-ray version with more goodies.
Only $9!

After I completed my little happy dance, I took a closer look.
The online purchase button was grayed out.
You could only buy it in the store.

KHAAAAAN!!

7:00am-
Little Lester wakes up.

Frustrated with all my shopping roadblocks, I put my computer to sleep and headed off to the family breakfast table…

Hunting and Gathering like our Ancestors
Later that morning, I ventured out of my cyber bubble to do a little brick and mortar shopping, and ironically found my old-school experience much more satisfying.

At Staples, I picked up a 32 GB SanDisk USB Flash Drive for just $10.
(not available online)

And I found a couple of good deals on Thomas Train Set accessories for my three year old at Toys”R”Us.
(also not online)

Yes, I know the day is called Black Friday and not Cyber Monday for a reason.
But I figured with all the cyber creep going on, there really wasn’t much of a difference anymore.

Apparently, the stores still want you to get off your tushies on Friday….
It seemed their best deals were still only available on sight.
(not on site)

Following my shopping adventure in the wild like my ancestors, I headed out to a family lunch gathering.
Additional cyber shopping would have to wait…

The Discount Gift Card Illusion
Later that night, I found one last window of opportunity to distribute some of my hard-earned money back to the Black Friday economy.

A few minutes in, I ran across what I thought was a genius idea:

  • Discount gift cards…for myself!

It was the inspired moment I’d been waiting for all day.

If I couldn’t find any online deals, why not buy discount gift cards to use at those very same stores…?

It’s like engineering your own discounted purchase.
Right?

So I checked out the usual suspects:

They claimed to offer deals up to 35% off store gift cards.
But the harsh reality was the discounts were substantially smaller for the better-known cards I was interested in.

More like 2%-9%.

Yes, that’s technically a savings, but it wasn’t enough of an incentive to keep me interested…
So I chalked up the wasted research to my ongoing education towards tech nirvana and moved on…

Canon to the Rescue
9:00pm-
Wait! There’s a sale on the Canon PowerShot Elph 330 HS!

All along, I’ve been looking for a deal on a small pocket camera for my wife and me.

I’ve used the older Elph 300 and found it to be a fabulous little workhorse of a camera. The Elph 330 has been upgraded with a nifty 10X zoom and has been selling this year at a $179 price point..

And now I saw that Best Buy was selling it for only $129!!
(Including an 8 GB memory card and camera case)

Deal?

Truthfully, I’m not sure how much of a Black Friday moment this was.
Multiple retailers were selling it at the same price point, because Canon was offering the $50 discount.

So the only real deal was how many ‘extras’ the retailers would throw in on top of the Canon mark down.

I did a little more research and noticed that Adorama had a slightly sweeter offer.
They included a larger 16 GB memory card along with the camera case.

So I took the Adorama deal.
Click.

Shopping Endorphins Released
I had finally found my Black Friday moment!
(I would not be denied my annual Black Friday endorphin surge.
Though I have to admit this time around, I had my eyes wide shut.)

Honestly, this annual ‘hunt’ is a lot of work, and I’m not sure if the payoff justified the effort this year.

What does all this say about me?

Coincidentally, The New York Times just ran a Black Friday story
talking about how retail marketers are targeting ‘self-gifters.’

The article identified this shopping group as a ‘special demographic niche’ and then identified a poster child by featuring an ‘incurable self-gifting’ man from North Carolina.

They included a photo of him happily sitting in his living room, working his laptop while his wife stood by.
As I looked at the smile on his face, his hyper-focused eyes looking for bargains…
…he actually appeared a bit maniacal.

Could that be me?

Should I be worried?
(pregnant pause)

I say, “NO!!!”

Look, we all end up buying ourselves things from time to time.
Is it so wrong to buy yourself a gift or two on Black Friday?

And isn’t that the day you’re supposed to find better prices?

Why should all this be such a surprise?

So I’m a self-gifter from time to time…
I know I’m low-hanging fruit.
I’m good with that.

The Truth is Out There
So another disappointing Black Friday has come and gone.
Yes, I bought a cheap flash drive and got a couple train deals for my son.
And, I’m relatively happy with my Canon Elph purchase.

But it’s hard for Black Friday to live up to all the hype.
Especially if you’re not heading out to the malls at 12am to stalk your ‘doorbusters.’
(This year, stores actually opened on Thursday!)

The good news is you get to avoid all that madness if you stay close to home.

And if you can distance yourself a bit, a simple truth permeates through all the holiday advertising Kool-Aid.

The act of pounding the pavement may still be the way retailers reward you on Black Friday.
But finding all your holiday shopping deals is not a one-day sprint.
It never was…

It’s more like a marathon.
You’ve got Cyber Monday,
and then most of December ahead of you.

Take a breath.
Exhale.
Pace yourself.

Then you may find your Tech Zen.

Good luck!
I’ll see you at the finish line.
(or somewhere close!)

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