Liquidation no-deals: shoppers beware

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The next time the words ‘going out of business’ start giving you a mega-sale arrhythmia, stop for a second and take a breath. Then maybe skip the trip altogether. We just stumbled upon this ABC News story on store liquidation “sales” with even higher prices than the stores had before. The Dec. ’08 expos√© (some caveats are timeless) featured now-closed Linens ‘n Things and Circuit City stores at the ends of their lives, under the ownership of liquidation companies there to get rid of all the merch. But the liquidators are profit-seekers too—they come in, charge what they want and still call the thing a blow-out.

The ABC footage, much through hidden camera, shows reporters peeling back liquidation price-tag after price-tag to reveal older, lower sale prices beneath. Calphalon sauce pan at Linens? $124.99 on liquidation, $109.99 before. The liquidators take over, jack the item back up to its full, original, pre-any-sale price, and start the “sale” from there. So that 30, 40, 50 percent off is all true—from the msrp, maybe—but not from what you could have paid before.

And there are plenty more tricks to watch out for (like outside items brought in and sold with the store’s label, just to piggy-back on all the close-out hype). Here’s the video with the full story to keep in mind.

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  1. The (very) short-lived Circuit City that opened at the new Target mall… I got a schmancy desk chair (they were selling their *actual* furniture too), but only after dealing with some obnoxious shenanigans. $50 for the chair (big sticker)… second to last day of ‘liquidation.’ I offered $40. They accepted. Rang it up. It came to $40 + tax + a $10 “auction fee.” Long story short, I took a serious fit. They couldn’t waive the retarded fee, so they just lowered the price to $30. :-)

    Meanwhile, the store was otherwise empty. They were down to serious dregs with weird prices.

  2. Steve, in today’s economic enormvnient, nothing is certain, but the fact that Circuit City is not only honoring gift cards but also issuing new ones tells me they think they can survive at least through the holidays. So, you should be fine if you use your card by 11/25. Beyond that, anything is possible.

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