This year’s number one tip to save you money when buying an HDTV (and the personal lesson I learned while figuring it out)

December 6, 2006

You live, you love, and, when all is said and done I guess, you die. Hopefully, along the way you’ve brought something to the world and perhaps learned a few of life’s lessons… I personally learned a valuable lesson this week from my oldest daughter. At the same time, I learned what may actually be the number one way to save money on your next HDTV.

Before I divulge my number one HDTV buying secret, I need to explain how I learned it into context. A tattooed heart on my right arm carries my credo – TLAFALAD, short for think like a father act like a Dad. Unfortunately, for a fleeting moment after Christmas, distracted with TitanTV issues, I forgot about TLAFALAD.

My daughter got a new Motorola Krazr cell phone for Christmas. She’d spent the whole day moving numbers from her old phone, a time consuming task for any millennial generation member. Unfortunately, every time she tried to assign individualized ring tones, they wouldn’t hold. With the Motorola manual in hand, she kept at it for hours and hours. No luck. The mistake I made was to suggest (OK, say…) “You must be doing something wrong.”

An hour later after sitting on hold with Verizon, I learned that Motorola has a glitch with the Krazr. A large percentage of them are out there that do not and will not work. With Super-Dad status behind me now, I start eating crow or at least trying to.

The next morning my wife and daughter went back to Best Buy to get a replacement Krazr. What a pain. Exchanging a cell phone is a rather complicated task. No luck. The replacement didn’t work either. Hell bent on regaining whatever ground I had lost and focused on making my daughter happy, I took her back to Best Buy. We were not leaving without a Krazr that worked. I didn’t care if it took Best Buy all night to get it right.

Here’s when I learned the number one way to save money on your next HDTV. The phone counter at Best Buy is right up front. In the nearly two hours that we spent trying to find a Krazr that worked, five HDTV’s came back for return. All told, a 37” LG, 42” Maxent, 50” Toshiba, 55” Samsung, and a 27” Westinghouse littered the floor space in front of the Geek Squad. It was a pile of rejected gifts from Christmas present

I got to thinking. Can one man’s rejected present become another man’s discounted HDTV? I asked someone what they were going to do with all of these televisions. If five came back in the time I was getting the Krazr fixed, then how many would come back between now and Super Bowl Sunday? Lots, perhaps more HDTV returns than even the Motorola Krazr.

The problem is that in the world of HDTV, there are people who understand what they are buying and there are people who don’t. People go into Best Buy expecting to come out with a flat, thin television which will produce eye popping clarity on each and every channel. It doesn’t work that way. It will, but it doesn’t today.

So here’s my tip (and we have my daughter to thank for it): Tonight, go hang out at Best Buy. When you see the model you’ve been searching for come back into the store, get in line behind the person returning it. As happened last night, you’ll see the Geek Squad guy connect a terrestrial antenna feed to the back of the unit. Unlike the Motorola Krazr phones, it will work. Even though they’ve just witnessed the clarity of free over-the-air HD, they’ll still return it. As the next person in line, therein lies your opportunity. Ask the Geek Squad guy if you can buy it. Suggest they call the store manager. Offer them 65% of the original retail price. I’ll bet you walk out with a barely used HDTV to add to your collection. Try it. It might just work.

The lesson I learned? Simple. Never doubt your daughter. Daughters are always right…