Forgive me for offering the two millionth article about Black Friday shopping. But this personal screed will not be about, “Buy! Buy! Buy!”
It will be all about, “Don’t! Nein! Nyet!”.
The current Black Friday ads for all things automotive are getting less deal oriented with the passing of each year.
That’s no surprise given that consumer behavior has turned considerably during the last five years. Yesterdays overlooked giveaways and cheap deals have given way to the coupon clipping shows and budget watching books of the modern day.
Unfortunately for all of you, this stretches all the way to the corporate boardrooms. Deals simply aren’t what they used to be.
Case in point, back in 2007 I could get 5 quarts fo Castrol GTX with a generic oil filter for $5 at Pep Boys during Black Friday. This wasn’t the only time for the cheap in-store deal either. I fondly recall spark plugs, windshield washer fluid, and even the occassional oil deal could essentially be free throughout the year if you took the time to mail in the rebates and keep track of them.
That was the big issue back in the day. Making sure you got the rebate.
The iron curtain that represented contacting a live human being at the company offering the rebate seemed to be an impenetrable fortress of, “Stay on the line.” Eventually, about three months later, you would either get a check in the mail, or a haunting reminder of the fallibility of corporations that were simply too big or ethically bankrupt to care about you.
These days it’s different.
Why? Because auto parts stores finally realized that if you didn’t get the deal that was advertised, you wouldn’t be coming back.
You want a rebate these days? Most of the time you can simply go to the web site of the parts store and fill out their rebate online. You get a confirmation or tracking number. A stamp is saved, and your rebate is essentially in their system forever.
It’s a win/win. But not for every product or every customer.
Some companies are more web savvy than others. If you are looking at any Black Friday deal at all tomorrow that requires a rebate, pause and ask yourself a critical question.
“Do they process rebates online?”
If so you’re fine. If not, then you’re rolling the dice.
I always keep a folder that tracks all things rebate oriented in my work life. But I also buy an awful lot of stuff. We’re talking nearly $20,000 worth of automotive parts a year.
When you maintain and sell hundreds of cars, the economics change.
The question you have to ask yourself, is whether you are willing to create a folder that will give you easy access to all the mail-in rebates come January. I guarantee that at least a few of the deals you find tomorrow will require follow up emails and/or phone calls. I average about two a week during the year.
As for the Pep Boys special I mentioned earlier? If you want to roll the dice instead this is how you do it.
You get 5 quarts of oil for free (before tax) by going to Wal-Mart and picking up 5 quarts of G-Oil, and mailing in the rebate found here. Then just wait until a good oil filter deal comes along, by visiting BobIsTheOilGuy.com, and combine that with online and manufacturer rebates.
For example, Advance Auto Parts frequently offers 2 Purolator oil filters for $10 at varying times. What I do for my personal vehicles is order four of those oil filters online and two air filters using code ES123 which gives you a $20 discount off of $50. Then access the manufacturer rebates you have through Purolator’s web site or go to Bobistheoilguy.com.
At the best case scenario, you have about 30,000 miles of scheduled maintenance that will cost you about $20. Four oil changes and two air filter changes for the DIY consumers will usually cost about $100 in oil and filters for the average car.
So you save quite a bit. But you will have to work for it, time it right, and follow-up on everything.
It’s a new economy folks… with the same old hoops. My advice is to figure out whether your time is worth jumping through all of them. If not, then just buy the equivalent of the Pep Boys special. Or just avoid the whole hassle altogether.
Specials aren’t really that special anymore.