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
  • Loading

    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.

    Your Comments

    • Michael Schmidt

      If you mount the TV near the ceiling, it’s easier to see it in a crowded room and it also frees the lower part of the wall for another use or piece of furniture.

    • Randall Starr

      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.
      This is not true. A good cable works better and is less likely to fail. I have installed 100′s of systems and the cheap cables cause many problems. It is not just digital-it is digital over an analog cable.

    • Randall Starr

      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.
      This is not true. A good cable works better and is less likely to fail. I have installed 100′s of systems and the cheap cables cause many problems. It is not just digital-it is digital over an analog cable.

      • Brad

         Hdmi cords transmit digital data in the native digital format.  That is the point of hdmi over component.  Hdmi either works and transmits all of the data or it doesn’t.  If it doesn’t you literally see the result and can consider it a faulty cable.  Only over long runs will expensive cables have an edge over cheap ones and even that is not always true.  If you have a 50 foot cheap cable that works, it works. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gin-Heedneeds/100003922736099 Gin Heedneeds

      Text 3060402 to 69937 for ‘Night Time by Tyler Shemwell…G-ESTEEM

      /I’m i doing too much/Or losing my touch/

      …a brilliantly written song about “can’t wait until night time to party,” with lines like,/Riding through the slum/Where i’m from/A place where crack fiends and fat girls love me the most/Some never made it home to take their work clothes off/Afraid they gonna miss something/.

      -”Real and A Good Time”

      G-ESTEEM-A tenacious confidence;mental toughness”If god is with me than who can be against me? I can do anything. G-ESTEEM Go hard,we dying soon.G-ESTEEM “The game is in belief”

      STAY BOW-LEGGED & THICK. G-ESTEEM (Presidential Election Nov 6, 2012) 44-Life

    • SEAN

      DONT BELIEVE WHAT PEOPLE SAY BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT THE ONE WHO WORKS OR HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH TVS. BUYING A TV AND WRITING OPINIONS ABOUT TVS NOT GOING TO GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO WRITE LIES. DISCONTINED TVS AVAILABLE ON MARCH NOT JANUARY OR SEPTEMBER. PLEASE STOP POSTING SOMETHING NOT TRUE. THANK YOU

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yvonne-Nelson/100000814706240 Yvonne Nelson

        Wow Sean, you posted in all caps – everything you say must be true, AND important, and you only had to use three periods in the whole thing! Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to read caps so most people won’t bother.

        • RB

          Why miss y how you doth sooth my rage of cap flatulating sloth who roam these boards with such abandon.

    • Big Texas

      Ridiculous that the writer of this story couldn’t do a “little” homework.  There are plenty of stations broadcast in 1080p HD not to mention a little thing called Blu-Ray which you will want to watch on said new television.  The piece of cabling is 100% correct though.  Never, ever buy a Monster cable again.  

    • Esau911

      While most of the major networks broadcast in 720p, the pay channels such as HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and Epix  as well as their on demand versions all have content that is broadcast in 1080p. So if you have digital cable it may be worth your while to get the better set.

    • http://twitter.com/TheCrazyCaker Black Widow Nor

      I work at a repair shop, the 100 dollar HDMI cord is wholesale 10 bucks. Doesn’t matter if you buy the super expensive cords, they’re the same stuff you can buy at Radio Shack (and probably made by the same company) Buy the extended warranties.  These all have major repairs in the first 18 months to three years – and that’s out of warranty.  Samsungs have power supply issues that are famously viral.  Sony quit making their own tvs a while back – the panels on their LCDs have tab bonding issues that are not covered by some recall/class action lawsuit that you’ll be stuck with unless you have the extended service contract.  Better yet?  Don’t worry about buying something like this and stick with your old CRT/Picture Tube tv that will probably last another 15 to 20 years.

    • consumerjoe

      don’t buy the warranty, but i’ll be lucky if it lasts 5 years?  $10 hdmi is just as good as $100 hdmi?? seriously this was written by someone who knows absolutely nothing about technology.

      • Jay

        The inexpensive HDMI cable IS just as good as the expensive ones.  Read articles on this on CNET.  We have several LED TV’s in our home and the clarity is the same whether an expensive or inexpensive HDMI cable is used.  I started out with the Monster HDMI cables ($50), read the articles regarding inexpensive HDMI cables, purchased one for $12, and the found that the clarity is the same.

        • Randall Starr

          Cheep cables cause problems and fail more often than ones built with higher quality control.
          This is what the experts in the field say, not the reviewer who did a single anecdotal test.

          You get what you pay for so be reasonable, not cheep

           

          • Anonymous

            Randall Starr,

            What’s “cheep” b/c I’ve never heard of that brand?
            This conclusion is based on what? Even if they did, you’d be able to buy 5 or 10 of them before they cost more than the Monster and other “premium” brands.

            • Skylarmiles

              ok costco, have fun going back to the store every time the cord starts getting shaky right when you and your chick,(probably a dude for you), jusssst sit down to watch something.

              you might drive a prius and eat organic, but nobody cares

            • Skylarmiles

              ok costco, have fun going back to the store every time the cord starts getting shaky right when you and your chick,(probably a dude for you), jusssst sit down to watch something.

              you might drive a prius and eat organic, but nobody cares

            • Frank

              Who plays with their HDMI cables?…I have had mine for years (cheapie) and my TV, DVR, and DVD player work great…so don’t dance with your HDMI cables…ok?.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yvonne-Nelson/100000814706240 Yvonne Nelson

            LOL – I’m not sure I’d take the advice of someone who can’t spell “cheap”. Besides, just because something costs more doesn’t mean that it has higher quality control, or higher quality for that matter. Anyhow, you can buy the exact cable online for pennies on the dollar online – check EBay or Amazon. Why waste your money foolishly?

          • Brad

             Buying a 100 dollar cable that performs exactly like a 5 dollar one is the antithesis of reasonable.

          • Anonymous

            Why do morons continue to think expensive cables are better?  Don’t get me wrong, don’t buy something made out of twist-ties and bubble gum but geesh…  $100 for a cable?  Are you nuts?

          • geicogecko

            Hate to tell you bud, but the slideshow is right. Would you like to tell me just what problems they cause? How they fail? Guess what stores use when they hook up displays: the cheapest possible cable (usually store brand).  For runs longer than 20 feet, quality can become an issue, but the vast majority of consumers need a six-foot cable at most. When I worked electronics retail, even though we got Monster for 1/3 the price, we still bought the store brand because it was the cheapest.

            I did laugh at the second tip though. LED and LCD may use the same basic display technology, but the lighting technlogy is definitely not the same. LED consumes less power and has a longer life than CCFL. If you get a set with local dimming, you’ll have superior black levels.

          • Wally Osmond

            Dude, HDMI is a digital interface. It uses error correction schemes. So outside a pin getting bent or something there’s absolutely no difference between cables. Maybe some extra shielding? Meh. If there is signal degregation that actually affects the picture the picture will be blank.It’s not analog. it’s digital. And any HDMI cable is to the HDMI standard, which means they all do the exact same things.

      • Jay

        The inexpensive HDMI cable IS just as good as the expensive ones.  Read articles on this on CNET.  We have several LED TV’s in our home and the clarity is the same whether an expensive or inexpensive HDMI cable is used.  I started out with the Monster HDMI cables ($50), read the articles regarding inexpensive HDMI cables, purchased one for $12, and the found that the clarity is the same.

      • Anonymous

        zerocredibility,
        Apparently you know nothing about technology. It has been clearly proven that the expensive cables are a waste of money. Spending 10x more on something doesn’t equate to it being any better whatsoever. But you keep right on buying them so Monster can stay in business.

      • joshg

        Speaking as someone who was in electronics retail for a long time, there’s some right and some wrong here.

        Buy the TV warranty. Buy the laptop warranty.  Don’t buy the desktop computer warranty. Newer TV’s use cheaper components since there’s less margin, regardless of brand. Replacing one lamp or circuit board will quickly surpass the warranty cost.

        That $5 HDMI cable is just as good as the $100 cable. Digital is digital, you’re either getting the data or you aren’t.  Just make sure the cable version matches the HDMI version you need transfer rate for(ie 1.3, 1.4). This rule doesn’t apply to analog connections.  Get higher quality cables for those.

    • zerocredibility

      who makes up this nonsense?