Holiday Shopping

Has your Thanksgiving transformed into Thanksgetting?  It is ironic that when Columbus got lost and landed in Hispaniola and, two hundred years later the Puritans landed in Plymouth, their true intentions were to rape, pillage and plunder the land and its aborigines – which they did with aplomb.  400 years later, we do much the same in department stores and malls across the country on Black Friday.  Pushing, shoving, knocking, yelling, trampling and pepper spraying seems to be de rigueuer for holiday shopping. 

Most of the “deal” items for which we fight over and wait in long lines for are electronic items built from inferior components which won’t last long, but, a $98 32″ TV is a $98 32″ TV. 

There are also brand items listed at sale prices but those sale prices are usually the store’s target price to begin with.  A store may pay $5 for an item.  They want to get $15 for it so they charge $30.  If you pay $30 for it at any time during the year, they win.  If they take 50% off on Black Friday, they still win.  They’re actually getting what they wanted in the first place.  If they take 75% off, they’re still making money.  They depend upon the ignorance of the consumer to overpay year round. 

JC Penny once tried charging their lower targeted price for their merchandise but people stopped shopping there.  People want sales because they think they are getting a bargain.  They would rather get a 50% discount and pay $15 for an item than pay full price for it at JC Penny and pay $15.  JC Penny quickly raised their prices and began offering discounts shortly thereafter.

The other holiday trap is the recommendation.  Reviewers, reporters and celebrities get free stuff all the time with the hope that they will plug the item to their legions of followers and fans in return for the gift.  I was watching the news and a reporter did a segment which proffered holiday shopping ideas and bargains.  First of all, why was this news?  Second, what qualifications did this 24 year old reporter have to offer advice on electronics and comparative shopping?

She said that a hot item this year is the tablet.  Without discussing anything else, she said the best tablet on the market is the iPad.   Of course she did.  She probably got one for free.  What if I only want to listen to audio books or read ebooks on my tablet?  Do I still need the most expensive tablet on the market or will the $89 tablet work for me? 

Even if you want to use a tablet for surfing the net, checking email, playing games, watching movies and reading books, do you still need the most expensive tablet on the market or would one of the less expensive brands suffice?  Do you get more because you pay more? 

Of course there are dozens of variables and options ranging from memory, speed, screen size, touch variations, free apps, OS, accessories, etcetera.  Each variable can add or subtract from the cost.  You need to know what you want to do and if that particular tablet can do it.  Do you want to pay more for features you won’t use?   If you don’t live near the Autobahn, do you need a Bugatti which can travel at speeds over 250 mph?  If you do live near the Autobahn, would you be happy with a Aixam Coupe or Tata Nano?  When it comes to buying and using computers (and cars), I would rather drive a slow car fast than pay a fortune to drive a fast car slow.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a Zenithink C97 and C93 tablet.  They have no limitations as a tablet for my needs, and for the crafty shopper, you can pick them up for as low as $100 and $150.  However, if Apple would like to send me a free iPad, I may change my mind.

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