Am I kind of terrible?

Screen shot 2013-03-21 at Mar 21, 2013, 10.17.53 PM

Girl Ninja was recently eligible for an upgrade from her iPhone 4. We made a deal that if we could sell her phone on Craigslist she could upgrade to the iPhone 5. I posted it last week and got zero bites. I was a little discouraged since I had a friend tell me he posted his five days earlier, and sold it for $180 within four hours of listing it.

I re-posted the ad, this time with pictures of the iPhone box and cords, on Tuesday and less than 24 hours later it sold for $200. Note to self: original boxes and cords get potential buyers super excited.

Immediately after the sale, we headed to Verizon and bought GN an iPhone 5 for $199 (before taxes/fees). After politely declining the customer service representatives “once in a lifetime offer” to buy phone insurance and some other crap fluff we don’t need, we peaced out.

We then drove across the street to Best Buy, where we argued for a good 20 minutes about the purpose of a phone case. Girl Ninja seems to think they are for aesthetics. I however believe they need to be waterproof, bulletproof, and Girl Ninja proof. She once punted her cell phone from a fourth story balcony to the ground below. We compromised on a cute, but protective, Otter Box case…


Now comes the part where I’m probably terrible….

Best Buy was selling the case for $39.99, which I was actually pleasantly surprised by. I was thinking they’d charge $50+ for an iPhone case because everything at Best Buy always seems to be ridiculously marked up.

But was $39 a good deal?

I had no clue. I hopped on my phone and pulled up my Amazon app. Amazon was selling it for $26 with free two-day shipping.

Ugh, what kind of frugal personal finance blogger would I be if I didn’t buy the cheaper option? But I felt terrible. We only knew we liked this case because we went in to Best Buy’s big, warm, friendly store, where they graciously allowed us to try out a few cases. Without the hands on experience we got in the Big Box store, we would have never known this was the best case for her phone. What was I to do?

I bought the case in Best Buy.

Wait, let me re-phrase that, I bought the case from Amazon on my phone, while we were standing in Best Buy. That’s right, I used and abused Best Buy.

Handcuff me now and take me to jail.

While I think you will probably try to convince me I’m not terrible for making such a decision, you’re wrong. I mean Best Buy needs to sell products to stay in business. I’m pretty sure they don’t have iPhone cases on display for any other purpose than to sell them. Right?

So my question is this, How much would the iPhone case had to have been in Best Buy for you to have bought it there?

We probably would have bought it in store for up to $5 more than the Amazon price of $26. Or in other words, we would have been willing to pay a 20% markup to support Best Buy since they helped us make our decision. Unfortunately, they were marked up 50% and that’s just too much.

Update: apparently, as of two weeks ago, Best Buy will match Amazon pricing. So I am a terrible person. Pretend they didn’t though for the sake of my reader question above.

34 thoughts on “Am I kind of terrible?”

  1. FYI – Best Buy price matches. If you had shown them the Amazon price, they probably would have matched it right there in the store.

  2. Depends, sometimes having it right then and there with an easy return policy can make a difference. I would probably pay about 10% more for that convenience factor. Up to 15% max however, guess I’m kinda cheap at times…

  3. I will note that I somehow managed to lose two iPhone 4 phones within two months.. and lost the first within a week of receiving my free case from Apple, and the second the same day that I bought a cheapo $5 case. (This was before the find my iPhone app – the only way to have located it would have been to pay an extra $15-30 a month for a service that did a lot more.) For the last 2.5 years I have had a little flip phone that I have dropped a million times but has survived well.

    I have had many swim coaches destroy phones, so for a waterproof case I think $35 is reasonable. But I’m of the mind that if I find something that works and the price is reasonable in a store, I’d rather just buy it then rather than dealing with shipping and the internet. I get it immediately, I know what I’m buying, and the transaction is over. Also, if I don’t buy impulse purchases on the internet I have to actually go places to buy things, and I’m lazy, so that saves me money in the long run, haha! I am not a huge fan of Amazon either, but that’s a whole other issue (at least you’re in WA, so the sales tax thing is moot).

  4. I also have the same Otter Box case (in black)… It sure is bombproof! Dropped it many times (both sides up) and there is not a scratch on it. I frequently do what you did – I would be willing to pay a max of 10% markup…. anymore and it is too much

  5. No, you’re not terrible at all. The problem is one that can’t really be solved. People need to see and touch the items, which requires a store presence. The stores cost money to run, so they have to bake that cost into their price, but that price turns out to be lower because Amazon built a great site, distribution model, and all but owns the online shopping market. The long term outcome is that all the brick and morter stores (or at least Best Buy) give up and either some other fool comes in and tries to open a B&M store thinking they can solve the pricing paradox, or Amazon will be forced to open retail outlets, or customers will be left buying things that they can’t ever see. Not sure where it’s going to go.

    But yeah, I thought of the whole price match thing first.

  6. Maybe I’m a terrible person, too, but I wouldn’t feel bad about it in a big, corporate owned kind of store like Best Buy. If it were a local business owned and run by a local family, then I’d be willing to pay a markup. I might see if they’d be willing to come down a bit if the price difference was $14 (or was it $9? You quoted two different prices…). I guess I’m prejudiced against impersonal corporate entities.

  7. I”ve heard this again and again about Best Buy becoming the testing ground for people who buy things cheaper on the internet. It’s like a showroom almost. Which is why Best Buy is sinking, of course. What they need to do is figure out a new business model. Lower prices, man, otherwise, why would anyone not do what you did? I went in for a dumb DC the other day and was floored that it cost $25!! I can download the music for about a nickel!

  8. I do it all the time … Am I terrible, maybe, but I can live with that.
    At HHGregg I got a projector for 5% off Amazon price – they matched it and gave me extra 5%. I’m sure they can take the cut or they would not do it. Now I’m debating to purchase a flat screen on Amazon. I prefer to see the TV before I buy so I will be going to HHGregg again.

  9. Businesses have to remain competitive. I have no sympathy for insatiably greedy big corporations, and if they can be undersold, that’s their problem, not yours. There are any number of times I’ve gone into to Barnes and Noble to look at a book, and then bought it at Amazon for a nice discount. I can also buy the same package of Canon printer ink cartridges in a Staples store for $60 and from Amazon for $35. I once bought at Staples because I was really needed a cartridge fast, but from now on it’s plan ahead and use Amazon.

  10. The big box retailers are a showroom for technology. No matter how long Best Buy tries to ignore this, that company is not going to survive in the long run. I have more faith for retailers like H.H. Gregg, because they sell appliances which people don’t usually buy online or Target/Wal Mart, because they stock everything.

    You aren’t a terrible person for doing this, I often do the same thing for my hobby items. The “Reward Zone” program Best Buy has it pretty terrible too, there is not a strong incentive to go there.

  11. This doesn’t make you terrible! This is capitalism…may the best company win (and best can mean different things, obviously).

  12. Hey, this post was worth the info that Best Buy price matches Amazon alone! Your readers (and you) are awesome! Good move on their part. They’re losing ALOT of business to Amazon. I know that’s always my first stop.

    As for your question, I’ve been there and I totally buy online while in the brick and mortar store. If I want it NOW NOW, then I’ll just buy it. It really depends on my urgency. But a $5 to $10 difference doesn’t matter much to me. Again, still depends on how quickly I want it.

  13. My $0.02…I’ve heard Otter Box is rad but my Griffin case is legit!! My 2 week old phone fell off the top of my car on our way to a camping trip and after looking around for it for about 30 minutes when we realized what had happened…we ended up finding the phone (in perfect condition) the next day on the side of the road! Yay for iPhone cases!
    As for your BB abuse, I would feel worse if it had been a mom and pop shop. I was in a Christian book store yesterday and I overhead a customer tell the employee not to order her a certain book…she would just get it on Amazon. I thought that was a bit callous.

  14. How nice that you live in an area that you live in an area that you can test the products out before you buy them in Amazon ;-). Now that Circuit City is gone I don’t think BB has too much to worry about. I personally receive a package from Amazon everyday! I love that place

  15. I was reading this wanting to scream, Best Buy price matches! I was there with my husband Jake a couple of weeks ago for some cord he needed, and he got like $20 off because I told him to look it up in other stores and ask for the match (he didn’t know they changed their policy, either).

  16. Not sure if anyone else has posted this yet, but this practice is so widely performed by consumers, they have actually coined a term for it: “showrooming”.

    Box stores know that people do it, but that is probably why places like best buy have changed their price match policies.

  17. I do the same thing. It is called showcasing and stores hate it. Now, Best buy and many others will match online prices in order to get you to buy it. Best Buy is falling on hard times, so you have a lot of bargaining room there. I have done it quite a few times and I don’t care. Best buy sells the technology that allows me to showcase. Ha!

  18. Well I usually would look up the best price for that specific item and get it from the best-priced site (or store) before I step foot into any store. Hey, if I can save gas in my car why not.

  19. A deal is a deal in my book. I would have done the same thing, forget loyalty because that loyalty is not returned by big business to consumers. Best buy should have done their homework and priced their products competitively. Thanks for making me laugh; oh by the way does the Mrs. really see a difference between the two phones?

  20. Ahhhh live and learn. I think it’s sweet (I mean really manly and macho and stuff) that ya’ll wanted to give Best Buy your service since they helped you chose the case. I think we need more people like this in the world. It’s not always about money, sometimes people and service matter more.

  21. Your American government is going to have a vote on requiring internet businesses to charge sales tax. It is not fair competition to force the brick and mortar stores to charge sales tax and allow Amazon to be exempt from it.

    Easter is next weekend. Every tax paying florist and grocery store who buys a yearly business license in town will be selling traditional lilies. There will be a bunch of vans that come to town and park at gas bars (with a little side cash to the gas bar owner) and sell cheap lilies and undercut all the traditional businesses because they do not have to pay any tax to the community they are profiting from.

    The transient lily sellers are like Amazon. The local florists are like Best Buy. All the florists want is a level playing field.

  22. FYI The otter box is not foolproof – I dropped it while running then stepped on it (glass side up) before I could avoid it. But phone still works!

  23. Years ago, Jane 2.0 got her Blackberry. Mom took her to the mall, and bought a case for $17. It was molded rubber and did its job, but the look on my face said “you paid too much.” It probably cost a dime to make, and I said these things should retail for $4.95.
    Skip ahead a few months, and J2 walks into my home office, and asks me to see her email. A link to an Amazon sale on Blackberry cases. $10. For ten cases. She used her allowance that week to buy the ten, a rainbow of colors. She gave me the blue one, and one to mom, and a couple friends. In the end, she kept 5 and they were the same quality as that single purchase.

  24. I would have never stepped into Best Buy to buy and OtterBox case. I would have ordered it directly from OtterBox.

  25. How did you get free two-day shipping?? I wouldn’t have bought either. I buy my phone cases on eBay for like $3.21 with free shipping 🙂 And they haven’t broken or given me some life-threatening disease yet so we’re all good!

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