The Classic Upsell – Back To School Computers

It’s that time of the year again, that magical season when advertisers everywhere try to explain to you that you are doomed to fail in the upcoming school year without their product (or on the flip side, if you buy their product, you basically can’t screw it up from there). One of the favourites for back to school flyers is electronic gadgets. It’s interesting that as technology can do more and more, we are told we need more and more products. I’m not a tech guy, but that seems kind of fishy to me. For all you parents out there, just because Future Shop or Best Buy tells you that your student needs a smart phone, a $1500 Apple laptop, and a netbook to take notes on, that doesn’t mean your son or daughter is doomed without this technological cornucopia. A basic laptop and a slightly out-of-date smartphone will likely do just fine. Unless you are going to be doing a lot of gaming on your laptop, you don’t need 90% of the random terminology that the computer stores throw at you anyway. The other day I seen a commercial that was marketing one computer as having a great “Beats” sound system. It blew me away that someone would spend an extra $800 or so on a computer that was special because it could play music. Does anyone else see anything crazy about the fact that you could basically outfit your whole room with surround sound for that price difference?!

The Only Time “Techie” and “Naked” End Up In The Same Sentence

Anyway, a lot of the back to school consumer push for post-secondary students will revolve around the computer. The really interesting thing that I learned from a few of my buddies that worked for Staples and Future Shop was that they actually make almost nothing on the computer itself. If they sold a computer without anything extra being tacked on it was referred to as selling a “naked” model and it wasn’t exactly encouraged. See the idea is that people will come in to buy the cheap laptop on the front, and then upgrade to a better model, buy extras to go along with it, maybe buy a few other things while they are there, and then finally, the really profitable upsells like “change over” or “setup” services. If you are actually looking to just buy a “naked” laptop (which is probably all most students really need), then their actually is no better time to buy one than in late August, aside from possibly Boxing Week.

Related: Shopping Tips and Deals

When you walk in to purchase your naked model (purchasing a naked model just sounds so much cooler than “buying a computer”) do yourself a favour and don’t get talked into the classic upsells. Bring a techie friend with you if you’re like me and aren’t too sure about some of this stuff. My buddies would say they got great commissions on things like increased warranties, and setup services. This gave them pretty good incentive to push them hard. Another upgrade is the Microsoft Office pack. Some people will say that you need this at all costs, but I’m not sold. If you have a buddy that is in the world of education, ask them to get a $15 version for you. If you can’t track down a cheap copy, I would honestly just recommend Open Office. You can download it for free online, and it did everything I needed it to do. Ditto for virus protection software and all that stuff. This is where the huge profit margins are, so don’t let them gouge your precious bank roll that you worked so hard for during the summer!

You Really Need This $200 Solid Gold Jump Drive…

Before you head into the store (or look on Amazon) make sure and think about what other “extras” you really need/want. If you actually need a new printer or wireless router for example, this often this can be negotiated into the deal for the actual computer. On the other hand, if you let a talented salesman or saleswoman tell you what you need, you will undoubtedly be talked into that new state-of-the-art mouse that will basically do your essay for you. My personal favourite is the expensive computer bag that you absolutely NEED in order to protect your valuable investment that you just made. Ironically, this is done right after they just praised the durability of the product you purchased. When is the last time you seen someone use a laptop case? You will inevitably get lazy and slide your laptop into your regular old backpack and it will most likely be just fine. Again, take into consideration the basic idea behind a retail employee is to separate you from your money. It’s nothing personal, it’s just how business is done.

Some stores also offer $50 recycling programs for your old computer. I took advantage of this once, and I simply recommend that you make sure all your old information is definitely wiped before you pass it along. I never had any problems for what it’s worth.

You’re a bright person that obvious cares a little about making and saving money if you’re checking out this site, so it goes without saying that you should do a little comparison shopping before looking around. There are numerous guides out there for how to pick out a laptop if you simply fire up the old Google machine. I personally like to check everything out on Amazon to give me a good baseline and know what I’m looking for before I ever talk to a salesperson. This allows me to buy naked models more effectively ;)


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11 years ago

The one place where going more expensive might make sense for school laptops is screen size and resolution. At least 15″ and 1080P/”full HD” makes a big difference if that’s the screen you’re going to do all your school work on.

11 years ago

You’re right. I never really thought about it but there is a big push around now to buy a back to school computer. News flash people, I finished my degree about two years ago and I never had a laptop. Just old school pen and paper and I did just fine.

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