16 December 2014

More or Less

I enjoy my tech gadgets, but I'm not usually the person who has to have the thing before everyone else. When I get a new phone, I don't load up on all the extras at the phone store. I prefer to wait and see what my needs are, and maybe I'll happen to read about an interesting product that's being funded through Kickstarter (which is how I ended up with my Elevation Dock).

I've never had a car charger for my iPhone. I don't drive, and most of the time we're in the car, we aren't going more than a few miles from home, and I don't use the phone to stream music or anything like that. But lately I've noticed that using Google Maps in the car, even just to check traffic conditions, puts a heavy drain on the phone's battery, and during our last couple of overnight trips to Rhode Island my battery was below 15% by the time we got home, so I thought it might be a good idea to get a car charger.

I figured the Apple-branded charger would be overpriced and I wasn't wrong, so I started looking at some of the other accessory brands that have been making Apple-compatible products for a while. I looked through some products when I happened to be at a Staples and found that most of the car chargers they were selling were priced at $25 to $30. I didn't want to buy a no-name piece of junk, but I didn't want to spend that much if I could avoid it.

I looked through some websites and noticed that Target was offering free shipping on any order. They had a Belkin charger for $13 but it was sold out online. I could order it to pick up at a store but the one closest to us didn't have them in stock, so I chose the store in Somerville near Union Square since I could get there on my own without too much difficulty.

When I went to the store yesterday I needed to get a couple of other things, and before going to pay I happened to pass the area with iPhone accessories. I was very surprised to see that the item I ordered was priced at $34.99. I'd already paid for mine online and it was being held for me at customer service, but if I'd just decided to go to the store without looking online first, I never would have known about the lower price.

It's surprising that this far into the life of the internet and the maturity of e-commerce this kind of pricing disparity still comes up as often as it does. You should never assume that in-store prices and online prices will match, and you also can't assume that one will consistently be lower than the other.

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