Hot Tip For Online Electronics Buying

I ordered a new CD/DVD player this weekend. I’ll spare you the ridiculously obsessive materialist consumerist research process, even though it might make for a good blog entry. The bottom line was, once I knew what I wanted, and the eBay bidders outbid the value of a used one, and the authorized B-stock eBay sellers ruled themselves out due to their spotty feedback rating, I was left with the authorized e-tailers, who offer real factory warranties, and sell at full price.
But two years ago when I purchased my preamp from OneCall, I used the real-time chat system to ask for a discount. That worked really well – in ten minutes the rep and I had negotiated a price reduction and free shipping, simply because I asked.
So this weekend when I saw the Crutchfield site had this feature, I took another shot. Here’s a slightly edited transcript (which they kindly emailed me when we finished) of the entire 3-minute chat:

Agent: “Welcome to the Crutchfield Sales Chat. How may I help you?”
Customer: “Are there any deals right now on the Denon DVD-2910B? Can I get this thing for less than $700?”
Agent: “I’ll be glad to help you.”
Customer: “Cool”
Agent: “I do have one in outlet stock for $629.99.”
Customer: “That sounds good – Is that refurbished or new.”
Agent: “The box has been opened since it left the manufacturer. Same warranty, guarantee and 30 day return just like the new one. It has not been refurbished.”
Customer: “Okay, I have one in my online cart now. Do I need a code or anything?”
Agent: “Does it show the discounted price?”
Customer: “No, it shows $699.99”
Agent: “Let me send you a link to it.”
Agent: “This should show the discounted price.” [URL removed]
Customer: “Okay, that seems to work. Thanks!”
Agent: “You’re welcome. Have a nice day.”

As I recall, that’s exactly the situation I had with the preamp. They had “an open box” of a new unit, with full warranty, full return policy, and free shipping. I wonder if “open box” is code for “we’re not allowed to discount, except for outlet stock, so we’ll happily open the box for you in order to give you a discount.” I like these chat systems for expensive online purchases.
And, note, it’s worth asking for what you want.