We’ll Pay You $100 To Take The Monitor

I always laugh (more like shake my head) when I come across retail specials like this. I have been looking for a desktop computer for my mom who currently doesn’t have a computer. All she needs is something basic as it will almost always be used for email and rarely anything else. That being said, I don’t want to get an outdated computer as I will also be using it from time to time, so I’ve been looking at the basic low cost computers on the market.

In today’s paper I saw that Frys was offering a Compaq computer with everything we’d need for $350 which included the tower and monitor. Most of these low cost desktop computers come with a fairly large monitor, and since I already have one of those that is in perfect shape, I asked what the computer would cost without the monitor. Now, I really didn’t think they were going to offer me a huge discount, but I figured if it was even a few dollars, it would save me the trouble of carrying the monitor home.

The answer? If I wanted the computer without the monitor, it would cost me $100 more than if I bought the two together?


I really thought the salesperson had misunderstood me. I explained that I didn’t want to upgrade the monitor, I simply didn’t want the monitor at all. He explained that he understood and if I didn’t want the monitor, the price of the computer would be $100 more ($450). To this, my question was “why?”

The salesperson simply shrugged his shoulders and said that is what his computer said. He didn’t care and even though it didn’t seem to make sense, he wasn’t going to make any effort to find out why. I left figuring that one of two things is going on:

  • There is some type of computer glitch that makes the computer more expensive without a monitor than with it
  • The store wants to get rid of the monitors for an inventory (or some other) reason and therefore is highly encouraging buyers to buy the monitor by offering them $100 to take it

    Either way, it seems strange that a computer store would pay me $100 to take a computer monitor even when I don’t want/need it.

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    6 Responses to We’ll Pay You $100 To Take The Monitor

    1. Trent says:

      Actually there is no glitch and no excess monitor inventory (at least, if there is that’s not the cause of the price discrepancy.)

      The retailer is advertising a very low price for a package in order to lure customers. The package price is less than cost. If you break up the package in any way they will not offer the same deal on it, and sell it at a profit.

      Likewise, that is probably the only package in the store that is sold so cheaply. You will likely find that you could buy that system and add upgrades (second hard drive, more RAM, etc.) part by part and still come out cheaper than buying an alternative system because they are losing money on the one computer advertised. It is a loss leader.

      The salesman is not interested in finding out why because it happens all the time, and won’t tell you it is a loss leader because he would probably be fired if he did.

      Incidentally, this is also why retailers offer the lowest price guarantee on the advertised system – because their competitor will offer a slightly different one and thus there is no way for you to tell which is truly cheaper.

    2. Kevin says:

      Exactly. It’s like going to a sub shop when the ham, turkey, and bacon sandwich is the daily special for $2.49, and you want a ham sandwich. Hypothetically, if the sub shop had different SKU’s and a tight inventory for each sandwich like a PC retailer, the clerk could very well say, “I’m sorry, the ham sandwich is $4.99.”

    3. pfadvice says:

      The retailer is advertising a very low price for a package in order to lure customers. The package price is less than cost. If you break up the package in any way they will not offer the same deal on it, and sell it at a profit.

      Except I was offered the option of upgrading monitors, so (at least in this case) it wasn’t a set “this or nothing” package.

    4. mapgirl says:

      Was it a CRT monitor? Because if they break the package deal, there is probably a restocking fee at the manufacturer, which makes it more cost effective to dump the monitor on a consumer to keep/dispose than it is for the company to dispose themselves, i.e. take a loss on inventory/restock at the manufacturer.

      Restocking fees. Heh. Rapidly depreciating items like electronics are the only time I’ve ever had to deal with them. Fortunately, I don’t get hit with them as a consumer. I’ve only had to deal with them as a professional purchaser. I see that lately places like Best Buy are charging them to consumers. I have to admit, it makes me a bit wary about buying stuff. Yet another hidden cost to consider when I ask myself if I really want something.

    5. Trent says:

      Exactly. When they offer you the monitor upgrade they are trying to recapture some of the profit they otherwise lose. Let’s say the monitors (sold separately) are $100 and $200, and at those prices each one gives the retailer a 30% margin. For argument’s sake, we’ll say the $350 package deal is a 10% loss ($35). So now, if you upgrade monitors by paying the extra hundy, the retailer gets the incremental $30 of profit and is only losing $5 on the deal. Instead of a 10% loss margin, it is now $5/$450 = just over 1%.

      He is hoping you take the monitor upgrade and possibly buy some extra printer cartridges so the deal can become profitable.

      That’s the whole point of offering a loss leader.

    6. empty spaces says:

      its a loss leader. its just an advertising ploy to get people into the store. they will then try to upsell you to something else.

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