Another Black Friday is in the books, and while you have another day of good deal-shopping ahead of you on this lovely Cyber Monday, it's time to assess the deals we've seen so far. Who served consumers well, and who stumbled? Read the sixth annual dealnews awards for the best and worst of Black Friday to find out!
Cheers to Black Friday, which stepped up its game this year, surpassing Thanksgiving in the total number of Editors' Choice deals. That's the opposite of what happened in 2011. Black Friday also edged out Thanksgiving for select categories, with a greater number of top deals for HDTVs, laptops, home and garden, and gaming and toys.
Jeers to the Google Shopping tool, which crashed for several hours early morning on Thanksgiving. The price-sorting service has lately become difficult for consumers, as it omits Amazon and Walmart from many results. And on one of the most important shopping days of the year, shoppers were temporarily out of luck if they wanted to use the tool to compare prices on often short-lived sales.
Cheers to Amazon for adjusting prices throughout the week to match other retailers's deals. In some cases, the mega store seemingly took note of discounts that other stores had announced in their Black Friday circulars, then dropped its own prices before the competition. Amazon wasn't the only store to price match and strategically undercut, but it did it the most effectively.
However, jeers to Amazon for "lightning" deals that, once again, were essentially 100% claimed the second they started. An example: a choice Lenovo dual-core 16" laptop deal was going for $200, but was out of stock within 30 seconds. We appreciate mind-boggling prices, but the online equivalent of doorbusters seem to be beyond the reflexive capabilities of most human shoppers.
Jeers to Best Buy for continuously advertising "free shipping on everything," then erratically adding a $3.50 shipping fee during checkout. The store also bizarrely stopped charging sales tax at the point of placing the order, since its "tax calculation system" was temporarily down. That means customers would be charged tax at a later time, and if you didn't want to be surprised when you checked your bank statement, it was up to you to figure out what that amount might be.
Cheers to cell phone deals that yielded a net profit. Last year, we saw a plethora of trendy Android phones that were free with new 2-year contracts, and this year, stores took it one step further by offering gift cards that surpassed the amount they charged for the phone.
Jeers to a handful of temporary site outages throughout the week. Dell Home, Best Buy, and Canon all had glitches at some point. This was sometimes at night or very early in the morning, but those are prime shopping hours for Black Friday week.
Similarly, jeers to stores that made it exceedingly difficult to check out. Walmart and TigerDirect sometimes took several minutes to load, while hhgregg reportedly "shut down" for maintenance moments after releasing a doorbuster; when it returned, all items had sold out.
Cheers to newegg for not requiring coupons for many of its best deals; it is somewhat tedious to apply a coupon with the site, as they require you to sign in before even testing a discount. So this turn of events was a welcome change.
Cheers to the first refurbished iPhone 5 deal arriving ahead of schedule. Based on past deal data, we projected that service providers wouldn't start offering iPhone 5 refurbs until January, but AT&T beat everyone to the punch about a month early.
Jeers to Apple for not offering free shipping on all items in its Black Friday sale. The online branch of the Apple Store has offered free shipping with no minimum since 2006, when it first joined in on the Black Friday game, but not this year.
Jeers to MidnightBox for a misleading sale. It took 20% off all past offers, implying that many former promotions would now be even cheaper. However, according to our archives, this was not the case because the store inflated its starting prices.
Cheers to storage deals, which returned to Black Friday week 2012 in full force. Last year, we were disappointed with hard drive promotions, since the industry was badly hit just the month before by floods in Thailand. This year, it appeared to bounce back, as we saw a 40% increase in the number of Editors' Choice offers for all storage deals.
Last, but not least, a massive cheers goes out to the dealnews staff. Our writers, editors, and beyond worked extra long hours, not only on Black Friday, but also on Thanksgiving. They sought out and tested hundreds of deals, so our dear readers could save money and time, all while avoiding the in-store madness.
Black Friday may be over, but there's still many stellar deals to be had today. Be sure to check out the sales as they come in, and consider setting up an email alert for the category or product of your choice.