By on November 27, 2015


We used to always hang out together on the day after Thanksgiving.

Black Friday was a complete knockout when she was a young lady. Sexy, seductive, easy to please, and so damn smart! The two of us would go out shopping and pretty much knock out everything I could ever need for my cars before lunch. She was a true gearhead at heart, and for a long time she made my life easy. Oil change packages for $5. A gallon of coolant for a buck. Free spark plugs. She had an uncanny ability to find every item I would ever need for my family garage. With her small army of circulars and rebates, I could get it all for only about 20- to 30-percent off the retail price.

She… was… awesome!

My wife and friends would hang out with her as well. Everyone loved Black Friday for her fun and chatty nature. It wasn’t just the deals that made Black Friday so enticing back then. It was the experience of enjoying that one day when she was the true queen of retail America.

But then she had what could only be described as a mid-life crisis.

Her showmanship — that pizzazz of what made Black Friday so special in the eyes of so many — began to slowly dissipate. Her shapely body that seemed to almost float in an angelic embrace of free market goodness turned ever more manipulative and callous over time. The deals which were once quick and simple turned into a labyrinth of endless rebates and hoops. As big box America saw their profits plummet during her annual event, they asked more from her and gave her strict limits on how much she could sell at a loss.

This only served to tick off her loyal followers.

Most of all, Black Friday’s big box employers wanted her to take on an Amazon woman who seemed almost unbeatable. It was an unfair fight. Her own business partners and fair weather friends were essentially two-faced when it came to their love for Black Friday. What those partners loved wasn’t quite her, but the easy access she afforded to all the things they wanted: customers, revenue, profits — everything but the spectacle of Black Friday herself. As time went by, Black Friday became less of a feature attraction and more of an off-Broadway side show that was getting lambasted by every disgruntled critic and consumer in town.

Black Friday had a complete meltdown. Amazon’s Cyber Monday — and, in the world of cars, Rockauto and Partsgeek — were stealing her show. Amazon in particular was so hell-bent on stardom that she intentionally took over Black Friday’s act and even headlined her own big day. At first it was just Cyber Monday. Then Amazon decided to remove Black Friday’s employers entirely from the buying equation. This year she opened up a new act called GETITNOW where she offered an extra $20 off any $50 purchase on the first purchase at her new retail channel, Amazon Now.

What did I, one of Black Friday’s most loyal and loving friends, do? I had a 15-minute tryst with Amazon Now and got a new Blu-Ray player and Sony headphones delivered straight to my home within two hours. Black Friday’s big box customers couldn’t match this Amazon woman. After a long week trying to make some highlight of Black Friday’s showmanship, I just couldn’t see the old magic in her.

Black Friday was beat. Or so I thought as I took an afternoon nap to reflect on her former glory. She crept straight into my email box in the middle of the night with a big can of spam in one hand and a stack of coupons that contained more small print than a miniature Bible in the other.

“Hey sweetie,” she whispered in an ever-so seductive voice, “wanna buy some motor oil?”

HelmsleyI opened my eyes and saw the horror of Black Friday’s face. Five pounds of makeup had apparently been used to make her more attractive as the years and the stresses took their toll.

The angry gaze of a stranger — a once beautiful lady who had become tired, broken, and defeated — was at my bedside. Yet, behind that gaze there was a ferociousness. Her downright nasty temperament was used to giving orders to anyone whose living depended on her success.

“You need to make me money Steve and start selling my shit again!!!”

“Oh my God! Black Friday! What happened to you?”

“I work for Pep Boys now Steve, and all the other big box stores! We have everyone’s email address. You remember those cheap Chinese scooters that you auctioned off back during the subprime mortgage crisis?”

“Uhhhhh…. yeah? I sold over 100 lots of them in an hour back when I was bid calling. Whatever happened to them?”

“Pep Boys partnered with a small army of bail bondsman and sold all those babies to DUI offenders for an 800-percent profit! You can call me CEO Friday, and I have something perfect for all those older men who have trouble getting it up, if you know what I mean.”

“You’re gonna sell old Playboys at Walmart? God, it would be nice to not read those articles again.”

“Better! I’m going to sell them motor oil, and you’re going to help me do it!”

“Surely you can’t be serious?!”

“I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley! It works like this. We get motor oil wholesale for about sixty cents a pop and oil filters for about thirty-five cents each. Our vendors put them in nice shiny bottles and an army of MBAs and graphic designers pore over every little crevice of those bottles to make them more alluring. I then put them right next to all the crappy additives that actually make cars worse.”

motor oil

“How much do you make with that?”

“About $2.7 billion last year.”

“Well then, why the fuck do you need me?”

“Because we need people that are trusted in the business. You write for the big names now. We have a blog! By the way, you want some free tires?”

“Fuck off!”

“How about a junket to Vegas where we give you a Lamborghini for a week?”

“The last time that happened was seven years ago. Remember? I got a Super Speeder ticket and a front seat to The Black Eyed Peas. I still don’t know which experience was worse.”

“Steve! We need to sell some motor oil this week! It’s Black Friday! My day! What in the name of Beelzebub do you want?”

“For you to stop jerking people off with limited supplies and mail-in rebates. It would also be nice to get a true deal once in a while that doesn’t make you out to be the new queen of cheap recycled bling. You used to sell things that were worth keeping. What happened?”

Pep Boys 2015 Black Friday

“What happened?! Let me tell you what happened! Three things: Amazon, Wall Street, and profits. Ripping people off is easy because nobody reads anymore! They’re all too busy watching other people play video games on Youtube and posting their lives away on Facebook. I make money on the stupid — always have — and nothing spells stupid better than buying a Black Friday deal.”

“Well, that’s really the hook then?”


“You’re going to send out your marketeers to sell all these oil change deals that are actually cheaper at any other time during the year; especially in October when the weather turns cold and nobody wants to buy motor oil. Then you’re going to line up some cheap aftermarket parts that won’t survive a year of moderate use and advertise the hell out of them; jump boxes, canopies, whatever else you can make out of the cheapest metals, plastics, and vinyls.”


“How else do you think I can afford these press junkets, Steve! By the way, what do you think of Iceland? How about Spain?”

“I would rather visit the Brickboard and teach my kids how to drive a stick.”

“Well, what the hell do you really want?”

“Honestly, I want Mailchimp to catch a venereal disease and the Pep Boys to be deported instead of the illegals. I want people to outsmart the system until it’s forced to change for the better. I’m not talking about just you, Black Friday. The entire auto industry promotes planned obsolescence and ‘gotcha’ legal loopholes these days. Cars should be so durable and easy to maintain at this point in our history that they should last generations. We should be exporting used cars to the developing world. Ease of maintenance is the key to that recipe. As for motor oil, it should be a dollar a quart at most. One more thing: All those herpetological snake oils and additives at the auto parts stores should be regulated right out of existence. They don’t work. Not one of them.”

I was having a Bluto Blutowski moment.

“Most of all, I want owners to have access to new cars that don’t require a small fortune’s worth of special tools to do what amounts to basic maintenance. You remember when you could crack the transmission plug on a Honda with just a socket wrench?”


“Yeah, I took care of that! Now new Nissan owners have to pay over $300 to have their transmission fluid changed on their CVTs! Sucks to be them but good for Nissan and their dealers!”

“That’s my issue with what you have become to all of us, Black Friday. It’s not just the prices that have gone in the wrong direction. It’s the entire mentality of the American marketplace, especially when it comes to cars. Every year I feel like Americans are becoming slaves to a new form of debt-based system that promotes planned obsolescence. In terms of longevity, the cars of today are nowhere near as durable as those of a decade ago because the automakers make them increasingly difficult to service for no good reason. As for parts and supplies, the online world has already become the brave, new world for all things automotive. I’ll be blunt with you, Black Friday: The best thing you can do for America is give everyone the day off and retire!”

“The hell with you! I make the big bucks!” With that, her nails quickly latched onto my face and started digging into my forehead and cheeks. Yet her grip on me didn’t seem nearly as strong as it had been all those years ago. After a second graze which felt more like sandpaper, I woke up… to the reassuring feel of a small Pug licking my face on a late Thursday afternoon.

My advice to all of you is still the same when it comes to auto parts: Wait for the closeouts. Time your purchases to when they are usually most reasonable. And plan ahead. The only thing that changes over time is the price, along with the marketing performed to make you pay more for a good that is far cheaper than the sellers ever care to admit.

Enjoy Thanksgiving weekend folks, and watch out for Black Friday. She’s no longer the real deal.

[Photo credit: Top, Flickr/prayitnophotography]

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60 Comments on “Hammer Time: Whatever Happened To Black Friday?...”

  • avatar

    Great write up and sadly spot on. Another thing the market gave us was cheap $5 sockets sets on black Friday that suck. Enjoy the left overs.

  • avatar

    America’s government is driving up inflation by printing money.
    America is EXPORTING inflation by trading WORTHLESS dollars for manufactured goods from Asia (mostly). Eventually it will all come back since there’s truly no place to actually spend USD that doesn’t come back to America in the form of higher cost of living.
    The Asian Billionaires and Millionaires can buy up our property and rent it to our children (your children) who have no jobs because we sent their manufacturing wok to Asia.

    Black Friday is a way to kick off the holiday spending season.

    Your job as an American is to take on as much of that “national debt” as you can without capsizing.

    I took one of my family members to Home Depot to buy a new Fridge. He got the same Fridge I got 5 years ago, but paid about $200 less for it. It’s a great model.

    I went out and bought a winter coat I had my eye on for 30% off.

    I will go back out in a few minutes to get air filters for my 300SRT and JeepSRT and buy a set of new tires – also on sale.

    • 0 avatar

      The only people that noticed the fed printing money are you, Wall Street and the old geezers watching Fox News. In case you hadn’t noticed, the American public has the attention span of 30 seconds. Most of Americans have no idea what the fed does except in a real crises – like the one caused by your idol George w. I would bet that if the fed brought up say a couple trillion of the govt debt you are so worried about and didn’t pay it back, we still probably wouldn’t notice it

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      The US is similar to most every country around the world.

      It’s us , the consumer and users that demand these things. You like FCA products because you consider them of value. I’d bet, as I’ve witnessed in your comments a line similar to “look at how cheap FCA/Ram/Jeep/etc performance is”.

      Many know there are issues confronting our nations, but yet, we all complain, bitch, whine and whinge on blaming all but ourselves. We expect all, other than us to make the necessary changes to fix the problems.

      Why should we change our happy little lives, when we can hold others to account other than ourselves.

      The US and Even Australia are where we are due to our greed and need for a better life. This is called competition.

      Why do you want to remove competition? Are you a socialist? It seems so with your views.

      • 0 avatar

        I am an American NATIONALIST.

        We should be looking out for ourselves – rather than intertwining our economy with China and India. We are getting weaker every single decade while “emerging nations” take our money and work.

        If I was in charge, we’d be on top of the world.

        Instead – you people keep electing COMMUNISTS.

        I will not allow “mine” to be redistributed.

    • 0 avatar

      Are you an industrialist with most of your capital tied up in depreciating assets? Is most of your assets held in bonds and other assets that rely on indexing by the Fed & their prime?

      Odds on the answer is no. So in general, you want inflation, not excessive, but a slow constant trickle because your income will rise faster than inflation in most situations. The problem is in the US where our income has remained stagnant due to corporations and their ability to influence one of the parties to completely sell out all citizens for corporate benefit. The Fed doesn’t work the way you suppose it does and even when it does lend through the emergency window to stimulate the economy it really doesn’t drive inflation as badly as you imagine. What it needs to be coupled with is actual spending by the government and for that lending money to be used to be put into the market instead of shuffled into investments that the Glass-Steagal act broke down.

      • 0 avatar

        On point, as always, Xeranar.

        The ability of the Wall Street Financial Corporations to influence the Democratic Party to sell out the citizens of this country is appalling.

        Nice to see you’re coming around to such a rational viewpoint!

        • 0 avatar

          I laughed, I cried, I realized you were serious and I stopped caring.

          The Democrats have problems but it’s mainly in conjunction with the fact that the Republicans are so thoroughly against any government action that it makes Democrats react in accordance to that.

          There is a complicated undercurrent of white voters who generally breed this view but I’m not going to waste my breathe typing it out.

  • avatar

    What really killed black Friday is the low normal prices for electronics. When a nice TV was $4000 and you could buy one on black Friday for $1200 it was worth camping outside for a night outside best buy. Now you have to camp out all week to save $200. It’s not worth it anymore.

    • 0 avatar


    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, basically this. I was looking at the Black Friday online sales in Canada today for an Ipad 4 for my mom for x-mas, and the best “deal” was $40 off — i.e., what you could find with 10 mins of google searching any time of the year.

      Black Friday was, like many things in North American commerce, a victim of people thinking that if doing it a little was profitable, pressing it even harder must be the ticket to untold millions. I used to be into it 10 years ago, but now don’t even bother to try.

      • 0 avatar

        I still follow my same Black Friday custom..of sleeping off the tryptophan hangover! ;-)

        Kudos to Steve for the Leona Helmsley pix! “The Queen Of Mean!” Her and her husband’s hotels were great! Her attitude, which I could argue was clearly the genesis of the “1%-er” argument, was not! Her famous quote: “Only the little people pay taxes!” She left her entire estate (multi millions), IIRC, not to her heirs, but to her toilet brush of a DOG!

        I’m as pro-capitalist as BTSR, but part of what’s screwed the system over is the “Gordon Gecko” mentality, “greed is good!” Also, the demise of Judeo-Christian values applied to business — give back, treat others as you would like — instead of get every last dime! (Just like the furniture-store mogul in Detroit, Art Van Elslander (sp?), who wrote a $200,000 check 25 years ago which saved Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, arguably up there with Macy’s as the top in the country.)

    • 0 avatar

      Completely. I’m building a new computer, and was pricing an i7 CPU. The best deal I could find was $50 off. I can go to eBay any day of the week and buy one for even less. There are a few stray deals, but nothing that really makes you want to go out and buy something on an impulse.

      That’s the problem for retailers- consumers using their brains.

  • avatar

    Brilliant writing, Steven.

    • 0 avatar

      and that the retailers are commissioning special cheaper models of electronics and appliances specifically to sell in a Black Friday sale. So you are getting a more cheaply made item for a lower price – not a real savings off the regular model.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not even a savings when ‘specific’ models are made for any particular events since it won’t generally be available for sale after the event ends.

        Sometimes, those models, particular electronics, are stripped down versions of existing models or specially built ones so you can’t even compare it online elsewhere.

        It’s not even worth the money or effort to buy them.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s not really true, since it would cost more to produce a special black friday version. All modern electronics are made as cheaply as possible. The special black friday models are the same as another model that is/was produced just with a slightly different model number to avoid price matching. It will have a suffix like BF (Black Friday) WM (Wal-Mart) etc..

  • avatar

    I’m 50 years old now and I’ve never been out on a Black Friday. Even back when I was a kid and my mom would drag me out Christmas shopping with her and my aunt, we would never go out the day after Thanksgiving. That was back before that day had a name other than the Friday after Thanksgiving.

    About 7 years ago I had a girlfriend that loved this stuff. She and her mom and grandmother would leave at like 4am and hit all the stores. She would text me saying what door busters they got where and who she found something for. Of course we still would have to go out at least two or three more times before Christmas to find stuff for the kids.

  • avatar

    Sorry. Never participated in the long con. Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving for our family was going -en masse – to the movies. And besides, you have already educated me on the idea of buying in bulk when prices are low. That will be problematic when changing cars very often. Anyone need filters for an old 450 SL?

    • 0 avatar

      David ;

      They should be dead easy to sell as they fix 6 and 8 cylinder gasoline Mercedes from the 1970’s through the 1990’s :

      MERCEDES-BENZ 280CE (1978 – 1981)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 280E (1977 – 1981)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 280SE (1977 – 1980)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 380SE (1984 – 1985)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 380SEC (1982 – 1983)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 380SEL (1981 – 1983)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 380SL (1981 – 1985)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 380SLC 1981
      MERCEDES-BENZ 420SEL (1986 – 1991)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 450SEL (1977 – 1980)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 450SL (1977 – 1980)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 450SLC (1977 – 1980)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 500SEC (1984 – 1985)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 500SEL (1984 – 1985)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 560SEC (1986 – 1991)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 560SEL (1986 – 1991)
      MERCEDES-BENZ 560SL (1986 – 1989)

      Please refer to catalog for application details.

      Were they applicable to my old Mercedes Diesels I’d be all over them like white on rice .


  • avatar

    As much as I hate Wal-Mart, their oil prices are so ridiculously low on a day-to-day basis that they beat “sale” prices at the chains.

    Five-quart jug of Mobil1 for $25? Yes, please!

    • 0 avatar

      Plus, they have great prices on filters for a lot of common cars. A Motocraft filter for my F150 is about $4, and oil can be had almost any time for less than $14. That’s cheaper than the specials at the auto parts stores…

    • 0 avatar

      They also have German Castrol for $25 for the 5 quart jug. That’s the real bargain.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ll have to grab that next time I’m there. That would be ideal for the Audi.

        For our trucks, though, they’re not too fussy. Ford 300s and small block Chevys take anything that’s brownish in color, though I usually go for Mobil.

        I wish Walmart would see Wix filters, though. I won’t use a Fram, but I’ve never had a problem with ACDelco and Motocraft filters.

    • 0 avatar

      Have to admit, oil is just about the ONLY reason I have gone to Walmart for many years. And even that is in jeopardy now that will deliver that same jug of Mobil1 to my door for free with no sales tax.

      As for Black Friday, you could not pay me enough to set foot in a retail store today.

  • avatar

    Those tree things behind Ms. Tractor Seat look like they’re made from Zagnuts.


  • avatar

    Excellent , and insightful , writing Steve . Here in Canada , we celebrated our Thanksgiving 6 weeks ago. Wow everywhere I look , I see Black Friday sales . The papers have full page ads reading ” We have U.S dealers here, ready to offer you top dollar for your trade ins” .??
    I asked a salesman “what’s that all about ” it seems that if you have a nice clean low KLM , vehicle ( mostly trucks all brands) the dealers are loading them on carriers and sending them south…..???. Must be the .32 cents on the dollar. ? The cost of a new truck here is obscene. All in, taxes etc..$ 50 – 60 K…will get you a fairly decent truck. You can’t find gently used , they have all been shipped to the USA.

    Interesting trend.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a pretty common trend. When the dollar was at parity a couple years ago they did the same thing, but with the cars and trucks going the other way. It’s basically arbitragers enforcing the law of one price within used cars — economic theory in action.

  • avatar

    Happy Buy Nothing Day!

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Why not buy what you require, when you require?

    You’ll end up with a home full of useless sh!t otherwise.

  • avatar

    A petty but annoying thing I noticed:

    I’m lucky that Black Friday is not celebrated in my country. I’m a shameless hoarder and even in normal conditions you don’t have to tell me twice to buy multiples of something I would probably keep in storage forever, always on standby but never to be used.

    What’s funny is that I am almost always scorned because of that but the person who goes overkill on every purchase somehow gets a free pass and is seen as a well-informed, responsible customer; a cognoscente of sorts. A 12-speaker TV set for a guy that watches nothing but 24h news channels? Nothing to see here, move along. Top of the line smartphones every year only to browse the net and text? Nothing wrong with that. A new, powerful, fully loaded car for someone who uses it as a portable dumpster? Sounds good.
    You bought 7 flashlights?! Oh, the horror! Oh, the humanity!

    I’m not arguing here that my approach is better or anything. I don’t even claim that it makes a slightest bit of sense. What I’m trying to say is that if you are going to criticize, at least criticize both deviations equally and consistently. If you’re deriding those who take part in the Black Friday “celebrations”, think about those who pay through the nose for minute improvements in their quality of life.

    Better yet – think about whether you truly aren’t one of those.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m critical of what Black Friday is because of the ridiculous behavior people often display today. I don’t care if someone buys seven flashlights or if they are upgrading to an iPhone they probably don’t need. I find fighting people for consumer electronics or camping for days outside of a Best Buy to be ridiculous. I can direct my scorn at those people. They certainly deserve it.

      • 0 avatar

        Ah but we have built an economy on frivolous consumer spending. I’m surprised “Black Friday” isn’t a national holiday or holy day.

        • 0 avatar

          It’s not? We had 16 people at our house for Thanksgiving. Only my wife and I had to work today. Out of the 14 that are not working, 12 are doing some sort of Black Friday shopping. My parents are watching our daughter instead of shopping because they are awesome. As we know, my parents are smart enough to follow 28CL’s CD3 Zephyr recommendation instead of wasting money in a frivolous manner.

          • 0 avatar

            Unofficial holiday perhaps, but certainly not official. Although if it were official the proles manning retail operations would get time and a half, and we can’t have that now can we?

            Your parents are indeed wise, although this seems troubling on the 3.5:


          • 0 avatar

            Yeah the water pump change takes a long time. I called the Lincoln dealer and they do them for $1100. They also said that they don’t have to do too many. Most are after 150K miles or 7-8 years. That isn’t the best news, but my parents can afford it if it happens. Considering that they have another 4 years of warranty and the MKZ will be paid off after 24 months from purchase, they’ll be okay.

            Also, on the Duratec and Ecoboost V6s, I would suggest adding a coolant flush earlier rather than later. 75K miles is reasonable. Ford/Lincoln dealers do it for about $100.

          • 0 avatar

            This sounds cheap compared to other estimates. Its probably cheaper and easier to pull the motor to change it instead of following Ford’s byzantine procedure going underneath. When I saw the link I was actually thinking more about you than the Zephyr since it was a Flex referenced.

            I look at this situation and think this is the new D186 Conti. The second and third gen Contis (V8) weren’t the worst IMO, but they suffered from two maladies: transaxle and air ride. Sure for leasees they were mostly ok, but as the cars aged their value plummeted because of these factors while the Town Car would eventually find an equilibrium in its value. Contis were bought and then crapped out on owners as repairs exceeded value (or owner cash flow). I predict the same for the FWD Lincolns as they hit water pump time and folks get slammed bc the dealer/indy follows book hours etc. Opportunity though for the scrupulous wholesaler who knows to look for maintenance paperwork in the glove box.

          • 0 avatar

            The Lincoln dealer I go to bills 8-10 hours to do the water pump replacement instead of 13-14 like other places do. That’s a big cost saver.

            There are plenty of 200K mile 3.5/3.7/3.5EBs with their original water pump. Many other manufacturers recommend replacing the water pump as regular maintenance. I think it is a minor issue. The water pumps aren’t, and won’t be failing en masse.

          • 0 avatar

            The last water pump I had done was in the 98 Sat and it failed at 149477 on the highway and needed to be towed (whole job $500 my cost). The GM manual suggests water pump replacement at 100K on the 3800 which I will be doing around this amount. The water pump will eventually fail and I suspect whenever it does in terms of age and miles it will be a factor to takes these FWD Fords out of circulation.

          • 0 avatar

            It’s certainly something that could kill a 15 year old MKS (or whatever else). I won’t dispute that.

          • 0 avatar

            The poster who first alerted me to this problem had an MY08/around 120K IIRC, so the clock could start ticking in as a little as eight years from new. You will see Panthers for the next twenty years, CD3/4 V6? Ehhh…

          • 0 avatar

            You aren’t going to see many Panthers in the ten years. I really wouldn’t worry about the Cyclone V6 either. 2010+ versions have also been upgraded. Either replace the water pump at 150K miles like you would with most other cars, or keep it until it goes. I can’t stress enough that the failures are rare. Give all the CD3 V6s to me!

  • avatar

    Kudos on the fine writing, Steve.

  • avatar

    Sexist write up and then an argument about the good old days. WOO! ‘Merica!

    I got through the entire write up and all I good discern was that Black Friday has become less advantageous which seems to be generally true as discounts have generally plummeted. Then I got that new cars are too dang ‘new fangled’ and we should go back ‘to the old ways’ even though a 2015 car will likely suffer less deterioration than a car just built 10 years ago over its given lifespan.

    But hey, don’t let me rain on your creepy parade….I just ordered a 2nd monitor at a fair price and walked through OfficeMax for a cheap jump drive. :)

    • 0 avatar

      I’m just speculating, but perhaps the margins for electronics have gone down and competition has increased over the years? I did however pick up a 22in ViewSonic at 46% off on Monday via Amazon so perhaps this idea isn’t accurate.

      “Then I got that new cars are too dang ‘new fangled’ and we should go back ‘to the old ways’ even though a 2015 car will likely suffer less deterioration than a car just built 10 years ago over its given lifespan.”

      I’m not saying you’re wrong but I’m bearish on this myself if “deterioration” is the TCO and not literal as in materials.

      • 0 avatar

        I think the need for consistent markdowns to be competitive has really eaten into the benefits of electronic sales on this day. There are deals to be had but TVs are not going for the insane values they were going for a few years ago. This year it was largely sound systems, Video game systems, and peripherals like headphones that were on better markdown but nothing was as good as it was during the rough retail times of 3-5 years ago.

        I would gladly bet you a brand new car if the average maintenance of newer cars cost more than a 15 year old car adjusted for inflation. The shade tree mechanic is not a myth but has become so rare as to be practically irrelevant.

        • 0 avatar

          I didn’t go out but the last time I was out in the madness was 2008. I cannot recall any one thing jumping out at me in great price other than televisions. Wal-Mart had larger LCD TVs (maybe 40in) for 299 bucks or some-thereabouts but were limited to five per store. I think jewlery was cheap too. The last time I had bought jewelry in that period was 2006 and I think it was 60% off at the time.

          I think this is difficult to actually do. We’d have to define avg maintenance and lifespan, then compare it against previous recommended maintenance and lifespan for multiple makes/models to get something accurate. One could argue the interval for simple procedure such as a water pump replacement (as Bball and I discussed) is lengthened, but in the same stroke the amount of billable hours is double or triple that than of say the Ford 3.0 Vulcan (I cant find a source for hours right now and I’m heading out).

          • 0 avatar

            You’re starting to sound like a genuine social scientist now. I think I like this…

            I would agree, the comparison is apples to oranges and for sure as newer vehicles use their engine bay space more judiciously it creates complex issues for what would be a simple job if you didn’t have to dismount half the car to get to it. It’s still a bit facetious to argue though that because newer cars package things in more complex ways they’re inherently more prone to ‘planned obsolescence’ since this very website loves to report on how our fleet is aging (arguably mainly due to the fact that these cars CAN survive longer).

            The “Doorbuster” deals on black friday are always soulcrushing. Would you give 12 hours of your life to sit outside of a Wal-Mart to save $300? I understand the ploy and even feel for those who suffer in poverty since that could be the make or break for a Christmas for a child. But I also realize that if we just did better by our citizens those deals wouldn’t seem so sweet….

            Plus, my time calculated by the hour is a bit over any savings on TVs.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m not up on social science but I suppose this is intended as a complement and I will take it as such. On automobiles I have searched Google several times for this source with no avail, however years ago I read manufacturing process of a single automobile on average consumes 900/gal of fresh water. Better design of an automobile could extend its lifespan but of course this could/does impede production/sales so its all a very vicious cycle.

            I compared the previous Ford FWD and its base V6 motor to the Lincoln FWD because there is no Fusion V6. Not quite apples to apples but not apples to oranges either. While looking for billable hours just now, I did come across this site:


            Its gives these figures for water pump replacement:

            MY12 Lincoln MKZ:

            $1412 to $1772

            Labor: $1240 – $1582
            Parts: $172 – $190
            2 Hose Clamps
            Water Pump
            Water Pump Gasket

            MY12 Ford Mustang

            $193 to $262
            Labor: $164 – $207
            Parts: $29 – $55

            I find this puzzling since they are both Cyclone V6 motors and have to attribute it as a combination of lack of engine bay space as you noted and deviation from its intended mission as a RWD motor. One might argue planned obsolescence but after seeing the Mustang estimate its a case of scope creep. Unlike GM, Ford in the last twenty five years or so has shared its motors between front and rear drive platforms and I imagine with the Cyclone rear wheel applications took precedence. Just my two cents and while it might explain why it doesn’t excuse the excessive repair cost IMO (GM has done some sharing with 3800 and 60V6 in F-body, Chevy SBC in D/B-body, and the Opel 2.2 in S-10 and J-body but its not on the same scale as Ford in my view).

            I agree the “fleet” is aging but the question I pose is what is this fleet comprised of? If we say every registered vehicle from MY00 to say MY10, how many more of those proportionally speaking are a percentage of Toyota and Honda products vs a previous sample set of MY90 to MY99? The whole thing could be partially explained by Japanese product taking up a bigger slice of the pie. Maybe. I’d have to see data.

            “The “Doorbuster” deals on black friday are always soulcrushing. Would you give 12 hours of your life to sit outside of a Wal-Mart to save $300?”

            Nah not only because this isn’t enough money to entice me but also because I would feel icky from taking part in such consumerism. Nearly everything in this apartment was bought used or gifted and it is nearly all old when acquired. The only exceptions in this living room/dining room are the leather recliner and couch which I bought at Roomful Express and the monitor I now type on which I just purchased last week – that’s it. I have six pieces of art, this desk & chair gifted, a TV stand my father built, a CRT television, a second LCD monitor gifted in 2006, a laptop bought used, an electric piano keyboard from CL, my three marble table set, lamps, books, an LCD projected bought used, and stereo bought from a friend in 2008. But of course much like used cars, its yucky consumerism which produces all of these things in the first place for me to acquire them later at much more favorable pricing. Yet another vicious cycle, right?

  • avatar

    Hi, I’m tired of Black Friday .

    All Fridays matter .

  • avatar

    “The entire auto industry promotes planned obsolescence”

    “Every year I feel like Americans are becoming slaves to a new form of debt-based system that promotes planned obsolescence. In terms of longevity, the cars of today are nowhere near as durable as those of a decade ago because the automakers make them increasingly difficult to service for no good reason”

    I’m glad that you noticed it, Steve. One thing I cannot stand about auto journalists and, to a lesser extent, car guys in general is their endless fascination with everything new, and the focus on trivia, and complete ignorance on the subject on the planned obsolescence.
    I literally cannot recall a review in which a new, untested piece of tech was described negatively when compared to an older, proven one. No one mentions predicted reliability (unless it’s about a Toyota or Honda), servicing costs, part costs, or common failure points. What do they talk about instead? Soft touch plastics, size of screens, size of wheels, how upscale and prestigious the car looks, how you’d really, REALLY want to step up to the 50 thousand dollar LTZ Platinum Brougham d’Elegance trim with the Luxury and Sport Packages, powered by the 1.4 twin turbo direct injected 300HP engine with a 120k mile self-destruct timer built in.
    The car guys are not much different. We know the “rear drum brakes=shit car” fad from Jalopnik. We all heard that “haha rental spec lol u poor” thing. We know how we should speak about the Mitsu Mirage in polite society. Better yet, some of you might recall that some guy here talking about how he is only interested in the quality of his BMW (because of course it is a BMW) for the first 36 months. Putting aside the obvious idiocy of that statement, the fact that a similar (although much less extreme) line of thinking is gaining popularity is, in my opinion, very worrying. It’s based on a very optimistic assumption that you’ll always be able to afford a brand new or CPO car with a warranty, and that you’re never gonna be that sad chump that has little choice but to pick up some nickel-and-diming hunk of junk past its warranty period.
    And before some of you say “but you can still buy a Versa/Fiesta/Corolla/Grand Caravan/other low tech, traditional car”: it’s just a matter of time. Look at Europe: the only new passenger cars that haven’t been complicated beyond reason are city cars and subcompacts, with a few compacts thrown in. You want to buy a bigger car with acceptable maintenance costs? Tough shit, pal. You’ll get direct injection, DPFs, common rail injectors, touchscreens, thousands of troblesome sensors and electrically activated everything whether you like it or not. Deal with it, you prole.
    It’s coming to you, too, under the guise of safety, fuel efficiency, and prestige. But underneath it all, no automotive progress is being done. It’s all just a way of making sure that you’ll have no other choice but be back in line for a new model, once the warranty runs out.

  • avatar

    I ordered 198 race deck tiles for my 3rd garage bay where my car and bicycles sleep. It was marked down about 30% from the quote I got over the summer from the same company, so I pulled the trigger. I finally ordered some bike stands earlier this week to get 3 of the bicycles up on the wall (and the have space for the new one coming next week). I think that was the catalyst for finally doing my garage floor.

  • avatar

    About the only thing I’m a sucker for come Black Friday is $10 TV show seasons on DVD. Wife and I hit Walmart and Best Buy last night and got about 15 titles, all for significant savings.

    We picked up a few other things too. Pair of Wrangler’s at Walmart for me for $10, regular $18.77. 30-pack of different colored Sharpies at Walmart also for $10 which seemed like a great deal for markers that last nearly forever.

    Best Buy had some good electronics deals I would have taken advantage of had I been in the market. Denon and Pioneer Elite receivers for nearly 50% off, 60 inch Samsung 4K for $799. Nothing I’d stand in line like a fool for, but still some deals and it’s kind of fun to get out of the house after being cooped up with family all day.

    I traditionally like to do most of my big ticket shopping in June or July when stores are slow and everyone else is outside. Weekday shopping is great at that time.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Just as Steve said so well in the above article that Amazon and other online retailers is what happened to Black Friday. This is not a bad thing. Why camp out in front of a store for days to save a couple of hundred dollars on a cheap no name TV or DVD player that will not last. As for cars and trucks designed with obsolescence that has been true for as long as I can remember. This is true as well for appliances and other things. The manufacturers and retailers count on consumers buying or leasing a large ticket item and coming back in a few years for a new one. There are a few of us that keep things a long time. I am not saying that obsolescence is a good or bad thing just that it is what it is. I am not also saying Black Friday is good or bad but Steve’s article accurately describes what has happened.

  • avatar

    Thanx Steve ! .

    Well written and enjoyable to read .

    I’ve only once been to a black friday event , it was a few years before Pops passed away and I decided to buy a digital camera , we arrived an hour after the craziness began and only had to wait in line 15 minutes or so , the sale people were amazed I only wanted a camera , no one else was buying them .

    I can’t imagine spending hours outside in line , that’s foolish to the extreme .

    I’m one of those who tries to buy things I know I’ll need , well in advance , a bud consumer I guess but it worked well for my depression era parents so no reason to change I think .

    As usual , the comments have taught me much , always more to learn =8-)


  • avatar
    Brett Woods

    F-JB. Long live Steve Lang!

  • avatar

    REI did the right thing this year, stay closed on Black Friday and tell everybody to go outside. This is what I do most years anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      REI earned major respect from me for this.

      America and Americans are way over retailed, with way to much useless crap, marginal crap, and over-saturated with commercials/advertisements/marketing for useless crap or barely marginally useless crap that reduces quality of life.

      Now let me go order a Nutribullet, some of this Wen by Chaz Dean and a George Foreman grill.

    • 0 avatar

      “REI did the right thing this year, stay closed on Black Friday ”

      The people actually out shopping just took their business elsewhere.

      That said, my initial impression was that not as many people turned out this year for the Brick&Mortar stores as had turned out in the past.

      Maybe more people will be shopping online this year. Cyber Monday everyone!

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