A couple of weeks ago, I got a HP OfficeJet from Costco (similar to this model). I was a little surprised that an item that costs hundreds of dollars made a big point (a full one-foot sq sticker) that it included it’s own USB cable. I was pretty shocked by this, especially since the cost of such a cable is under three dollars on some Internet sites. The cost to the manufacturer is probably under a dollar. I realize that margins are tight on electronics, but are they so tight that they have to highlight a feature that cost them 0.03% of the amount that I’m giving them?
Just this past week, I cashed in years worth of SonyCard reward points for a Sony HandyCam. Most of the points were acquired before cash back programs were very good. I figured there’d usually be something that I could use from Sony, making it nearly as good as cash in my mind at the time.
I was excited to get a camcorder, the first I’ve ever had. The first thing that struck me was that it was small for camcorder that could record straight to DVD. As it was charging, I flipped through the instruction booklet. It seems that this camcorder uses a smaller version of DVDs – once that are 8cm instead of the standard 12cms. (I obviously didn’t do my research, but it wasn’t like I had a ton of choice – it was the best I could get with the expiring points.) The smaller discs were a disappointment as it records far less video than a regular DVD. At the top quality, I would get only 20 minutes of recording time instead of the standard DVD that gives you two hours worth.
I looked though all the included paperwork and cords and noticed that they didn’t include one DVD that is required to use the video camera. A standard recordable DVD costs pennies in bulk and since Sony makes these mini-DVDs, there’s no reason to think that it would cost Sony more than a fraction of a penny. They wouldn’t be giving up their sales of these blank DVDs as anyone buying a camcorder is going to want to record more than a few minutes. Instead Sony decided to make a product that doesn’t work out of the box. Perhaps this is the reason I’m finding that fewer and fewer of my electronics purchases come from the electronics giant.
The reason that your printer specifically highlighted that it had the USB included is because back before USB printers (10 years or so ago) most printers did not included a cable. Cables were probably a little more expensive back then so it makes a little more sense. Also, there were ‘high speed’ cables, so people had a choice to make (some printers required it, but it was optional for most). Also, I’ve gone thru probably 3 or 4 printers in my days. I’d rather not have an extra $5 or $10 tacked on to the price of my printer when I am able to use my old cable.
I’m surprised that the printer included the usb cable. When you shop at commissioned electronics shops, the usb cables are one of their highest margin products. Thus the reason why they only sell printers that don’t include the cable.
Electronics should come ready to
work out of the box….when I come
across something that doesn’t, I
realize that the manufacturer doesn’t
really care about my business, and like Lazy man, decide to look somewhere
else in the future, or decide I just
don’t NEED a certain item. (Not worth
I think companies make the MOST money from required peripherals that they don’t include with the actual product. This way, they can make a large electronic product (like your printer) look like a good value with an awesome price… and then hit your hard with the stuff you need… printer cable.. etc. Companies will squeeze every dollar they can…
C’mon Lazy Man, if you buy a DVD player do you get a free DVD? How about a tape recorder way back in the day? Or VCRs, mP3 players, stero systems, etc. Heck, half the things you buy don’t even come with batteries! ;)
Sarcasm aside, if you aren’t happy with your Sony cam, eBay is a mouse click away! :)
Lazy Man says
Good points Patrick. What free DVD would come with a DVD player though? What if you didn’t like the movie they chose? Most people already had batteries around and if you buy something for $400 today it comes with batteries for the remote.
The only thing that’s comparable is the tape recorder and I’m not sure about that one. I’m not sure they cost $400 at any point. Also tape recording answer machines came with a tape.
I am glad most new printers don’t come with USB cables, I seem to have 4 or 5 laying around the house and I certainly don’t need another one…
I used to do a lot of printer installs at my last job and I noticed about mid 2002 they quit supplying cables to connect printers. The real scam, however, is trying to buy a USB cable at a Bestbuy or OfficeDepot/Max where they usually charge 10x over market.
Actually, it is quite a big deal because almost all inkjets don’t supply those USB cables. To make the matter worst, buying a USB cable at the same store usually cost something like $14.99.
It’s a big hassle to buy it online for $3+shipping.
I believe that they actually sell the core product at a lost and recover it via the supporting products. This is especially true for items like ink cartridges for ink-jet printers. I have heard of guys that when they run out of ink, they just purchase a new printer that comes with ink cartridges. It cost about the same, and sometimes cheaper than the inks.