13+ Things Your TV Salesman Won’t Tell You

Crank up the volume: Learn retail secrets for selling big screens in this TV buying guide.

By Michelle Crouch from Reader's Digest Magazine
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    1. Buy your new TV in September or January.

    That’s when the new models come out and the prices go way down on discontinued models. Another time to get a deal: Black Friday, if you’re willing to brave the crowds.

    2. Shoppers’ questions boil down to this:

    LED, LCD, or plasma? LEDs and LCDs use the same technology, but LEDs are thinner and more expensive. LEDs can also be too reflective in a bright room. Plasmas offer the best picture for your money, especially if you’re watching at an angle, but they’re thicker than the others, and ghost images can be an issue.

    3. Which brands do I recommend?

    For LCDs, LG, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony have consistently been among the best in rankings by Consumer Reports. Among plasmas, Panasonic tops the list.

    4. Our margins on TVs are so thin, they’re almost nonexistent.

    The prices are designed to get you in the store, and then we try to sell you the expensive cords, accessories, and, of course, the extended warranty. Don’t buy it. Problems are rare, and most repairs happen in the first year, when the standard manufacturer’s warranty still covers you.

    5. And don’t spend a lot of money on a fancy HDMI cable.

    The one you can buy for $10 online is just as good as the $100 one in the store.

    6. Flat screens have beautiful pictures, but the sound from most is pretty awful.

    If you can’t afford an expensive audio system, get external speakers.

    7. Want a great deal?

    Buy a refurbished set, a TV previously opened or returned. Check the warranty, though.

    8. We’ve had customers put a tilt mount for a 50-inch television on the wall,

    miss a stud or two, and then have the thing come crashing down. Come on. These TVs weigh more than 100 pounds. Unless you’re a licensed contractor, pay for the professional install.

    9. Yes, the TV we just mounted on your wall is high enough.

    The center of the screen should be 45 to 50 inches from the floor, putting it right at eye level. And don’t put it over your fireplace. It’s a TV, not artwork.

    10. Even if you’re hanging your TV on the wall, keep the stand.

    You never know when you might decide to redecorate and place the TV on a piece of furniture. At least once a month, we get a call from someone looking for a particular stand, but TV technology changes so quickly that it’s a challenge for us to find the one you need.

    3-D TV is just a fad. Nobody is making content for it, and you’ve still got to wear the stupid glasses.

    We’re pushing it only because everyone already has a flat panel and we need to get you in the store.

    12. Televisions in the store are set at their brightest levels to attract your eye.

    Adjust yours when you get home or the colors will be distorted.

    13. Don’t expect your flat screen to be around forever.

    You’ll be lucky if it lasts five years. Today’s TVs are made to be replaced.

    14. Always have your TV delivered and installed the same day.

    If it’s out of our possession and it doesn’t work when you turn it on, we may try to say that you caused the problem.

    15. Thinner is not always better.

    If you’re setting your TV on a piece of furniture, why are you paying a premium for the thinnest technology?

    16. Forget 3D.

    What’s really hot right now are TVs that connect to the Web. Most have “apps” that let you access streaming content on pre-selected sites such as Netflix, YouTube, and Vudu, to name a few. A few, like Google TV, offer full Web browsing.

    17. If you’re connecting your TV to the Internet, think twice before you go wireless.

    Interference is still a big issue, especially if you live near an airport or another location with a lot of radios. To minimize headaches, hard-wire the TV to your modem.

    18. If you do decide to get the extended warranty,

    ask whether the warranty will provide in-home service or if you’ll have to pay to pack up the TV and ship it somewhere, which can cost hundreds of dollars. Also ask if the warranty covers such problems as a power-supply replacement.

    19. A contrast ratio of 50,000 to 1 may sound impressive,

    but because every manufacturer measures it differently, it’s really a meaningless number.

    20. Unless you’re watching a lot of Blu-rays, you don’t need a resolution of ultrafine 1080p.

    Most people can’t tell the difference between 1080p and 1080i, and even if you could, there are no stations broadcasting in a resolution that high.

    21. Save the box your TV came in, and the plastic Styrofoam that’s inside.

    If you move or something goes wrong and you have to ship the unit back to the manufacturer, you’ll be so glad you did.


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    Your Comments

    • Guest

      I can tell the difference between 1080i and 1080p, but I can’t tell the difference between 720p and 1080p. Anything interlaced is worse than the next step down progressive.

    • notdumblikeyou

      Lol woww is this the dumbest thing I’ve seen. There is a tremendous difference between the cables for starters, only high end (some mid-range but 40$) cables are actually certified by Simplay for TrueHD and provide uncompressed or scrambled signals. Then let’s also add that 3D is actually huge and there is tons of releases for 3D content out there now. Seriously did you just do a bunch of drugs and try to brain storm ideas about TVs? How do you even have a job for Readers Digest..go work for some free local newspaper

      • james braselton

        hi there you forgot too mention 3d tv channels like 3net 24/7 and 3d sky bbc 3d and few other 3d channels you can reqest if you dont have them

    • John Berggren

      There is a ton of 3D content available on blu-ray.

    • Corey

      This writer is very incorrect about a lot of this.

      A 50″ TV weighs between 40-60lbs, not 100. 40lbs is a huge difference.

      Salesman tell you that the TV’s have a crappy sound! Why would they ever tell you a flatscreen sounds good when they have HTIBs and soundbars they want to sell you?

      “Margins on NEW TV’s are almost nonexistent.” The title of this slideshow is things a salesman won’t tell you. A salesman WANTS to tell you the margins on TVs are small so you’re more likely to buy it.

      And again, why would a salesman not say what TV’s they recommend…

      And LEDs too reflective in a bright room…NOoooo…. LED TVs work BEST in a bright room. And plasmas look best in dark rooms.

      So much fail in this article.

    • John

      Some of this is right, and some is hilariously wrong

    • Cindy Gilbert

      I used to work as a warranty service coordinator for an electronics chain and I have to disagree with your claim that “most repairs happen in the first year”. Warranties used to be longer (2-3 years) because that was the time frame that manufacturers considered a low risk. When repairs started trending to just outside the one year mark, manufacturers cut back the warranty period so they wouldn’t have to eat the repair costs. That`s why in many cases the extended warranty IS worth it. Just be sure to read and understand the terms and conditions before buying.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/34URZOPRN2LXDV7E7E6FTUVT4Q Zen

      “3-D TV is just a fad. Nobody is making content for it”

      That is not necessarily true. I have noticed a big increase in 3D Games for PS3 and Xbox…Not to mention most if not all Movies that are 3D in the theater are Released 3D Blu-ray for home.
            A good cable is a good idea.You get what you pay for…you don’t need some $300 esoteric one, unless your into that. But a nice monster or Audioquest is good enough for the average consumer who want quality…Remember HDMI 2.0 is soon to be the new standard and will support 4k resolution…Extended warranties are always a good Idea.

      • Liberty_and_Justice

        “Extended warranties are always a good idea.” This is nuts. What if the warranty costs as much as the object covered? A cost/benefit analysis is a matter of failure modes and their cost and probability and the cost of the warranty. And you might want to consider all of your purchases together. If only 10% fail within the extended warranty and you buy warranties on all of your purchases, is that reasonable?

    • Anonymous

      HELP – I have to send 32 inch tv back to manufacturer before warranty runs out – vendor did send me a UPS label – but UPS no longer handles big boxes for shipping tv;s etc.
      They will help with the packing – just not the box (unfortunately son threw away shortly after setting it up) 

    • Thedude

      As someone who sells TVs i would say there are some truths to this although the first slide is nonsense Plasma is the cheapest but has by far the worse picture and is the most reflective.

    • Julio

      im a high school teacher.  can you come up with a “13+ things your child’s high school teacher won’t you”? Like “When I call, pick up the phone or call me back.  Do not complain I flunked her or him and didn’t tell you.”  ”On Parent-Teacher Conference night, do not take up more than 4 minutes.  Be considerate about the 30 other parents behind you.”  etc…