Consumer News

Liquidations offer bogus bargains?

Friday, January 23, 2009

The tough economy is forcing an increasing number of stores out of business, but if you think store closing sales are the best place to find good deals on merchandise, think again.

Most recently, Circuit City added its name to the long list of stores closing up for good.

Bargain birds flock when they know a store is going out of business with most expecting to feast on rock-bottom prices.

But are store closing prices really the lowest you can get?

To find out, Action News looked at 25 items: everything from DVDs to big-screen televisions.

First we compared Circuit City's liquidation prices to those at another big box electronics chain.

A DVD of the movie Juno is selling for $21.99 plus 10-percent at Circuit City, but it costs $14.99 already at Best Buy.

How about this?

Even considering the 10-percent discount at Circuit City a Tom Tom GPS is about $30 cheaper at Best Buy.

A Panasonic plasma TV ends up being about $50 cheaper.

Customer Robert Machling bought his Blu-ray player at Circuit City, but we found the exact same player is $37 cheaper than the liquidation price at Circuit City!

Of the 25 items Action News price-checked, 10 were better deals at Best Buy!

And we found that discount chains also beat many of Circuit City's liquidation prices.

You can save about $10 on a Garmin GPS and about $37 on a Kodak digital picture frame at Wal-Mart, compared to Circuit City.

And for EVERY item we checked, we found even cheaper prices online.

For instance, compare the prices for a Samsung 52-inch LCD HDTV.

It's $2,250 on sale at Circuit City, but it's just $1,799 at powersellernyc.com.

That's a $450 savings! And includes shipping!

But Circuit City is a classic example of the real deal behind liquidation sales.

When the chain filed for Chapter 11, bankruptcy court ordered four separate liquidation companies to take over operations and get as much money out of the store closings as possible.

To do that, liquidators are allowed to raise the marked price and bring in outside merchandise.

So that is why a Sony laptop computer was $799.99 on January 12th, before Circuit City's liquidation, and now, during the liquidation, the laptop is being sold for $37 more.

Remember, the price tag used to say $799.99, now it says the sale price is $836.99 marked down from $929.99!

The liquidators say they are not raising prices already in the Circuit City system, but you still need to price-check items before you head to the store.

Also, realize you cannot return items.

That means, before you leave the store, you need to make sure you have all the parts, accessories, and manuals for your purchase.

Also, make sure the manufacturer's warranty or any extended warranties are good for their entire term.

And wait for further markdowns as liquidators will offer deeper discounts as the sale goes on.

Also, if you find a lower price in Circuit City's most recent circular, the liquidators will honor the price in that circular. However, the liquidators will not match competitor's prices, lower prices if you haggle, or honor online coupons.

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