Black Friday and Cyber Monday have already passed us by, but we still have several weeks worth of holiday camcorder deal hunting to look forward to. There are plenty of ways to do your shopping, both online and in stores (we're flattered when you do it through Camcorder HQ), each with their pros and cons. We've put together a list of tips to help you find the best deals this holiday season.
Cameras Are Almost Always Cheaper Online
Shoppers expect better deals online than in stores. With the exception of some in-store doorbuster deals, that notion is almost always correct. Take Camcorder HQ's most popular camcorder, the Sony SX40 for example: We called a few brick-and-mortar locations in the Boston area; it sells for $269.99 at both Hunt's Photo & Video and Best Buy, and for $259.88 at Walmart. However, several Camcorder HQ merchants sell the SX40 at or below that price, with offers from B&H Photo and Crutchfield at $249.99 and an offer from Dell at $238.99. A Google search for "Sony SX40 Prices" turns up an even lower offer: $219.99 from Supreme Camera.
Salespeople Have An Incentive To Sell
Some shoppers still feel more comfortable buying a camcorder from a salesperson in a store rather than online. Particularly in a specialty shop, salespeople can offer sound advice and make sure that you walk away with all the accessories you'll need. But they do typically work on commission, so they have an incentive to try to sell you some "extras" you don't necessarily need, such as extra memory cards and batteries. There are plenty of online resources to advise you on your next camera purchase as well. We're happy to help right here, of course.
If A Price Seems Too Good To Be True, Check Out The Merchant
It's human nature to jump at the lowest price available. Why pay more than you have to, right? But the lowest price doesn't always get you the best deal. Ebay, for example, usually offers the lowest prices for cameras, but you're buying from a private seller; the consumer safety net isn't as strong as it would be if you were buying from a dealer.
Then there are the deep-discount Web merchants. They some great prices on camcorders, but typically at the expense of good customer service. Users have even reported that some resort to dodgy bait-and-switch tactics.
Take Supreme Camera (mentioned above) for example. Their prices are incredibly low, at least $20 to $30 cheaper than any offers on Camcorder HQ. The average offer for our most popular product, the Sony DCR-SX40, is about $259 on our site. But that same camera goes for the low price of $219.99 at Supreme Camera. It sounds too good to be true.
It is. A quick search for Supreme Camera on ResellerRatings.com turns up some rather unflattering reviews of this merchant. Apparently it's required that customers call to "verify" their online orders. There's a salesperson on the other end of the line who tries to sell you memory cards and batteries for huge markups. Two users reported that when they refused to buy any of these over-priced accessories, their salespeople suddenly claimed that the cameras they wanted were on backorder. Another reported that his salesperson tried to sell him a lens for a fixed-lens camcorder. There are several dodgy merchants like this out there, so be very careful when you're going for the super-low-cost option.