This year we decided to go out onto the internet with a budget in mind and try to do our shopping on some of the biggest days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and we thought we'd share some thoughts on how it went.
Our first stop was Newegg.com. They had an iBuyPower Gaming Rig for $569. It had just about everything a gamer could want including an Intel Core i5 2320, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, 1 TB drive, HDD Capacity, AMD Radeon HD 6770 1GB and Windows 7. The site ran pretty well as we signed up for the first time to take advantage of the $10 discount for new customers when you entered the code NEWCUSTOMER10. It took the code easily and marked off the money. But because we were in New Jersey, we got hit with taxes, which came to quite a bit actually, around $30, which was more than the shipping was, a little bit discouraging, but given the great price, it still was worth it. The good news is that we got it really quick without having to pay for expedited shipping or processing, which helped to take the sting out of the tax. Newegg.com was definitely a good place to shop and their customer support is always top notch, although we didn't need to use it this time around. The best thing was we could use Paypal here to make our purchase which is pretty convenient.
Our next stop was BestBuy.com. Now this one did present a bit of trouble for us, but it wasn't Best Buy's fault and they were awesome at getting it worked out. Thus we would recommend shopping with them definitely. Our saga started on Cyber Monday when we found that because we'd earned a lot of Chase Reward Points that we could get an amazing deal on a 59" Samsung Plasma TV. The $1400 HDTV was available for $575 at BB. The catch was that you had to buy it on Chase's site. But their system was not working properly, presumably because everybody wanted the same deal, and we were directed to Best Buy's customer service. We were put on hold for a bit, but decided that perhaps a quicker method would be to email them. So we did so and got a response back the next day apologizing for the issues we'd had, while thanking us for pointing them out, even though it was mostly on Chase's side. And they did make good on the deal for the TV to our satisfaction, which we really did appreciate.
Being the gamers that we are and trying to get the young folks into the fray, we decided to pick up one of the $139 4GB Xbox's at Target on Black Friday, even though they were rumored to be going down to $150 after Christmas. But when we tried to get to it, the website was terribly slow and kept sending us back to the main page, making it difficult to purchase. Now it may have been some sort of internet interference or browser issue, but we had a lot of issues getting this one. We contacted their customer support, but it's unlikely at this point that they will still honor it, but if we hear back, we will update the article accordingly.
It seems that the largest retailers were the ones with the most issues or maybe we were just unlucky trying to buy an Xbox online, but we decided to go to Wal-Mart.com who had a really good price on the Gears of War Gamers Bundle. We got an order confirmation after purchasing for the advertised price, but never got the confirmation email that said that the order had been processed and sent out. When we inquired about it, we were told that the order was not registered in their system, and according to the credit card company had not been charged. Unfortunately by the time we found this out, the sale was over and Wal-Mart, without proof in their system, said that they could not honor it. So much for picking up an Xbox on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. The experiences at the large retail store outlets online had really left a bad taste in our mouth, something we'll consider for next year.
Nothing goes better after a hot game of Call of Duty than relaxing to a good high quality movie and so we figured a new Panasonic Blu-Ray Wi-Fi 3D Blu-Ray player would be just perfect and they had one at Amazon for $119.99 on Black Friday, an excellent price, especially since it came with a coupon to get a free copy of Avatar. It also had free ground shipping, but being members of Amazon Prime because we buy a lot of stuff there, we wound up getting two day for free. Their site was pleasantly speedy considering all the traffic their servers must have had and we were able to get from purchase to checkout pretty easily by just putting in our login credentials. The only hassle that we had, and it's really a minor one, is that because we were adding a new address to ship to, they wanted a new payment method, but the card didn't have to bill to the same address, which is nice because we were buying it for an independent contractor that works for us. This is significant because most stores require them to be one in the same, like Newegg.com.
We then picked up an Apple iPod Touch 8GB for $199 at Toys'R'Us and a Kinect for the Xbox 360 for $99.95. The reason we got the iPod there rather than perhaps some store like Sears was because it had a $50 gift certificate for the toy store, which our webmaster wanted for his family. And like Amazon, we didn't really have a lot of problems there. We signed up, picked what we wanted, and bought them without the site being incredibly slow or lagging. The items came quickly creating a good experience all around.
And that pretty much finished out our budget. The bottom line is that while people were fighting it out in the stores, most of our online experiences were for the most part positive, except for Target and Wal-Mart perhaps, but some went above and beyond the call of duty like Best Buy making our Black Friday not so dark.