Is That Deal Really as Good as They Say?

Amazon misstates retail prices to inflate savings.

It’s a twist on my Safeway whine from last week. Stores — including online stores — purposely misstate the retail or regular price of items to make their own prices look better.

Amazon's PriceHere’s proof. I was distracted by a tweet that took me to Amazon.com and was further distracted by a “Lightning Deal” offer for the Garmin nüvi 500 GPS. Here’s the deal as it appeared on Amazon.

Wow! I thought to myself. A $499.99 GPS for only $169.99! That’s a savings of $329 or 66% off retail price!

I’m shopping for a new GPS — something with a bigger screen that still supports topographic maps — and thought this might be an excellent deal for me. So I went to the Garmin Web site to get the full details about this particular model.

Real Retail PriceWhat did I discover on Garmin.com? That the suggested retail price of this GPS is not $499.99, as Amazon advertises. It’s $299.99. That’s $200 less.

Doing some math, I calculated a savings of only $129 or 43% off the real retail price. Admittedly, that’s still pretty good, but it’s a far cry from 66%.

Not Such a DealAnd the deal isn’t so sweet when you look at Amazon’s regular (not “Lightning”) price: $232.38. Now you’re saving only $67 or 22% off retail price, despite the fact that Amazon claims you’re saving $267 or 54%.

My point? Don’t believe retail prices as advertised on reseller Web sites or in stores. Do your homework. Don’t let fantasy savings con you into making a purchase decision before you have all the facts.