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Black Friday’s (not so fine) Fine Print

Some people ran out of the house at 3am last Friday for the big Black Friday sales without checking the mouse print in some of the sale advertising. Here, then, are some of the dirty little secrets they may have missed.

*MOUSE PRINT: Quantities were very limited.


Only four washer/dryers for the entire community served by each Sears store?!

Sears was not alone in this. Staples had just a minimum of five of their $299 laptops. Kmart had but a minimum of two Nintendo DS bundles per store. And Best Buy had just a minimum of three 40″ Sony Bravias for $662.99.

*MOUSE PRINT: Want a raincheck? Forget it!


And it wasn’t only Wal-mart that was not giving rainchecks, it was true for most items in Best Buy’s circular, and for most doorbusters at Sears, Target, Toys R Us, Kmart, and other stores.

*MOUSE PRINT: We won’t honor our price guarantee.



So if you thought you could buy a Black Friday item in advance to avoid the crowds and then get back the difference, forget it. Informally, other stores simply refused to honor their price guarantees too. Wal-mart was a notable exception.

*MOUSE PRINT: Some of our doorbusters will be available online too.


Best Buy does that, as does Wal-mart, Staples, Sears, Kohl’s, and many other sellers. The trouble is, they generally don’t tell you which ones will be available online, and which ones won’t. If you knew that that 40″ Sony Bravia for $598 would be available online at Walmart.com (and it was), you might not have ventured out in the middle of the night and waited for it with all the other “crazies.” Why don’t retailers tell you about specific online availability so you can stay home and order those items while still in your pajamas?

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14 thoughts on “Black Friday’s (not so fine) Fine Print”

  1. Why don’t retailers tell you about specific online availability so you can stay home and order those items while still in your pajamas? I would imagine if they advertise that doorbuster items are available online it would pretty much guarantee their site to crash from the high traffic which is the last thing you want during the shopping season.

  2. Having doorbusters online sounds like a great idea…unless you live on the West Coast. Friday JoAnn’s crafts website sold out of their big doorbuster item at 5 am eastern time. Not that it matters because their site also crashed and was unavailable all weekend and now that it is back up so are the prices…

  3. To answer your last question (aside from Peter’s comment), the main objective is to get you into the store with the intent to shop for other merchandise besides the doorbuster speicals. You can’t do that online!

  4. Went to Toys R Us at midnight for a doorbuster and the store only had ONE in stock AND I had to dig through a multitude of similiar items just to find the specific doorbuster item shoved WAY to the back of the pile. I got it though, so I guess my efforts paid off. I won’t be doing any other shopping at Toys R Us this holiday season though becuase of the bad taste they have left in my mouth.

  5. All year long I may shop at a store only to be denied any “special” price since I choose not to cooperate with their collective maddness. That’s smart business? This brings nothing to the store in the way of additional business since most will just go on to the next sucker hunt at another store.

    The real laugher to this is I wanted two of these door buster items a Tom Tom at Target and a laptop at Best Buy and how did I get them? On the freaking internet! Free shipping and door buster price at Target and the Best But one was held at their store for my pickup Friday. Both were limited quanities bought on THURSDAY night ten hours before they went on “sale.” So check the internet first.

  6. i quit going to black friday sales because of quantity limits. if you have to camp out 12 hours or more in freezing weather, spend money on snacks, bring chairs to sit/nap, and hope you don’t get sick because of hypothermia, you are not getting a deal. you are paying for that discount.

    also this year’s black friday sales were TERRIBLE. i did not see anything that was really a great bargain. looked mostly like inventory that stores wanted to clear out.

  7. “So if you thought you could buy a Black Friday item in advance to avoid the crowds and then get back the difference, forget it. Informally, other stores simply refused to honor their price guarantees too. Wal-mart was a notable exception.”

    I loved this part! I was in North Carolina for the Thanksgiving holiday and one of the radio stations I was listening to with my sister was actually giving people the advice to buy in advance. I’ll bet they had some very angry listeners calling on Friday/Saturday. Or the listeners took out their anger on the stores.

  8. For all of the reasons stated above, I don’t bother with Black Friday sales. I have neither the time nor patience to deal with the mobs or the stores’ gimmicks.

  9. When you say “minimum”, I think you mean “maximum”.

    Edgar replies: Kev, no, minimum is correct. Store ads typically say “min. 3 per store”, meaning they will have no fewer than 3. They could have a 1000, but I doubt it.

  10. My mom and I went to Sears on Black Friday to find a tool chest she wanted. Of course, they were sold out. To our surprise, the guy said “We can order it for you. It’ll be a couple of weeks until it gets in.” Wait, at the sale price? Yes.

    So, good job, Sears. It hasn’t come in yet, but we paid for it and it should be on the way in.

  11. When I was studying in the X Standard in school recently in the year 1960, our maths teacher told us about the grand reduction sales offers put out by many shops. Prices marked as Rupees 100 were conspicuously cut and prices of around Rs. 60 were charged.

    But, explained our teacher, prior to the onset of the said grand reduction sales, the prices of around Rupees 40 were surreptitiously marked with Rupees 100 by using brand new price tags.

    In that way the shopkeeper gets his stagnating inventory cleared and still earns a profit.

    By the way, 1960 deserves the qualifier “recently”? Yes, it does to me, as I still remember this incident as if it took place but yesterday.

    I never go to reduction sales period

  12. I see little difference between these doorbuster sales and the old “bait and switch” tactics. Clearly the idea is to sell you something else since the door buster sale will sell out in five minutes.

  13. I read these posts and the funny thing is you’re all very upset because they don’t offer rain checks on items they sell out of, well too bad. Now the west coast thing I get because of the time issue, but this is retail we are talking about. It’s not bait and switching, LIMITED QUANTITIES people, that could be 1 to 100. YOU choose to wake up and go shopping, you choose to become frustrated by shopping at these places. The best thing you can ALL do is tell your friends not to shop there. If you see a line of 300 people outside a BEST BUY at 4am, and expect to come back at 7 to get the door buster laptop with limited quanities at $197.99, who is being a little unreasonable and not very logical.

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