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Black Friday Cheers & Jeers 2009

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Black Friday, the kickoff to the holiday shopping season, has come and gone. For our third year in a row, dealnews takes a look back at some of last week's biggest doorbusters and biggest failures. We present to you, the Best and Worst of Black Friday 2009.

Cheers: To Blu-ray movie prices. For $10 or less, we saw The Dark Knight, Harry Potter 1-5, Monsters vs. Aliens, Star Trek 2, 4, and 8, and many many more. At these prices, we'd prefer Blu-ray over streaming HD video. It's a pity we've only seen these prices once ever. DVD movie prices were at all time lows too.

Jeers: To newegg, whose Black Friday Sale began on Wednesday afternoon, only to see newegg's web servers immediately bog down under the traffic. By the time you could get through, the item was often sold out. Cheers to Amazon, for matching prices with newegg on almost every item that Amazon also sells. Amazon's web site had no outages or slowdowns.

Cheers: To early releases of Black Friday doorbusters. Many shoppers were able to buy doorbuster deals online as early as the Sunday before Black Friday. Shopping online is safer, more convenient, and much more relaxed than shopping in stores on Black Friday, the most hassle-filled shopping day of the year. We hope this trend continues.

Jeers: To Apple, for yet another Apple Store Black Friday sale with modest discounts that, at best, offset the cost of sales tax. But perhaps the biggest jeer should go to blog "Boy Genius Report" (a.k.a Weekly World News: Tech Edition) for reporting that Apple's sale would be stellar. Apple wasn't the only one whose Black Friday sale underwhelmed. We're looking at you, Buy.com and mwave. Cheers to MacMall and Amazon, for undercutting Apple's Black Friday prices.

Jeers — with emphasis: To Sears, which had Black Friday sale prices that were substantially worse than other times of the year, or at least worse than its competitors. Ironically, this is the first year that Sears' web servers didn't go down, at least since we started tracking such things.

Cheers: To Office Depot, for free shipping all week with no minimum requirement. It's an annual tradition for Office Depot, and it's one we've come to love. Jeers to Staples and OfficeMax for not matching it.

Jeers: To Costco, for recycling the same old GPS deal — its lead product in its Black Friday sale — that it's had since November 7. If we didn't want it three weeks ago ...

Jeers: To Roku, maker of a popular Netflix streaming box for your TV. Its servers crashed on Black Friday during its 50% off deal. Once you got through — you guessed it — the 50% off deal was over.

Cheers: To Walmart, who put 100% of its Black Friday doorbusters online at 4 am on Friday. We must regrettably offer a mild jeer to Walmart at the same time, since its best Black Friday deals sold out in mere minutes. (We've heard of "Limit one per store," but this felt like "Limit one per web site.")

Cheers: To TigerDirect.com and its "Pink Friday" promotion, which this year donated at least $100,000 to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Jeers: To Target for waiting until Thanksgiving Day to post its official Black Friday ad. It was the last major store to do so once again. Last is bad.

Cheers: To 20% off coupons. Well, that's assuming you think that 20% off is a lot, because we saw more 20% off coupon codes on Thanksgiving and Black Friday than any other discount. The list includes Reebok, Disney Store, Petco, Ann Taylor Loft, and many more. Jeers to stores that offered their same old discounts, or worse, on Black Friday. Two of these "Lame Friday" stores include Bluefly and AllPosters.

Jeers: To the Overstock.com Black Friday Preview. It listed the products, but it didn't list the prices!

Jeers: To "Deal of the Day" sites like Woot. We love these daily deals sites most of the year, but on Black Friday, when every store had dozens of stellar bargains, stores having only one deal seemed hollow and irrelevant. Excluded from this jeer is Yugster, which had several products throughout the day.

Cheers: To AT&T, for cutting prices on the refurbished iPhone 3GS to $49 (sorry, since expired). Less than fifty dollars for an iPhone 3GS! Now if only AT&T had enabled them to work on Verizon's network, we'd really have something to cheer about.

The BIG WINNER: Amazon's customers, who saw the online giant match the best Black Friday prices at Walmart. And Best Buy. And newegg. And Staples. And Office Depot. And Apple. And Target. The list goes on. We imagined all of Amazon's product managers skittering about in a Black Friday war room, in a mad frenzy, unshowered, reeking of coffee and cigarettes, smashing their fists into their keyboards screaming, "You think you got a Black Friday deal, Staples? BWAHAHA! [Click.] SO DO WE!" We watched Amazon cut prices live, and it was a phenomenon to behold. But before we keep gushing, we should point out that there are another 364 days in the year.

Cheers: To the dealnews Staff, who worked 24/7, even on Thanksgiving, to hunt down deals or to keep dealnews.com up and running smoothly despite record traffic.


Compiled by the editors and writers of dealnews. See also our Cheers & Jeers pieces from 2008 and 2007.

Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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