Nov 23, 2017

Black Friday triage: Your deal sold out. Now what?

By Unboxed


It's Black Friday weekend. You've done a ton of work to find the very best deals for the most important items you need to buy right now. You get to the store—in person or online—and whammo! Sold out. No [item you really want] for you.

Don't fret.  You still have plenty of options to find that product on sale somewhere else or a replacement deal that's just as good as the original. Here are the special techniques we recommend trying when you need a shopping savior this weekend.

Phone a friend for deal advice

Though this only applies when you've lost out on a great Cyber Monday deal, The Verge's Circuit Breaker Live show is running a special, shopping-themed episode starting at 9 a.m. Monday (ET).  

Not only can you watch live and tweet questions to hosts Paul Miller, Ashley Carman, and Chaim Gartenberg, but they've even set up a special phone number you can call to help you sort out your shopping feelings—and maybe get a tip or two on a new deal.  Dial up 1-844-4EMOTION (1-844-436-6846) to "share your feelings with the world" on Monday.

Bother the live-bloggers and streamers for help

A number of deal-hunting sites are launching Black Friday live blogs, which you can watch to get the latest information on the best, freshest deals. You can also reach out to the hosts via the live blog itself—or by pinging them on a social network, like Twitter—to ask for help when that TV you wanted is no longer in stock. Here's what we'll be watching tomorrow:

Lifehacker: "The Black Friday Live Blog will begin at 8:30am AEDT, November 24 and will be regularly updated throughout the day! Your host will be me, Jackson Ryan, and I will also be scouting Twitter for any deals I can find at @dctrjack."

Thrifter: "This will be Team Thrifter's first official Black Friday together, and to celebrate we are bringing the team that's usually spread out around the country into one room to work together. Things are sure to get silly (I'm looking at you J.D.), and we will be covering every minute of the Black Friday fun, starting well ahead of Friday."

Slickdeals: We're not sure if they're doing a live show for Black Friday. Just in case, you should go bookmark Slickdeals' Live Videos page on Facebook. If they go live, they're a great resource for tracking down new (or better) deals on the gear you want to get.

Reddit: You can go a little more old school by posting any questions you have about Black Friday deals (or great alternatives) to the official /r/blackfriday "Ask here!" thread. The same subreddit has also set up a Discord server for Black Friday discussions, which can help you get answers even faster (especially if you download the iOS or Android Discord app).

Amazon: Yes, the online retail giant is planning to launch its own live show on Black Friday. Tune in starting at 10 a.m. (ET) on Friday to see all the deals Unbox Therapy's Lewis Hilsenteger, Matt "The Deal Guy" Granite, and fashionista Joe Zee have found. There's no word yet on whether you'll be able to ask them questions about deals on Amazon's show, but we're hoping that you'll at least be able to tweet at the hosts for shopping guidance.

YouTube: We haven't seen any streamers indicate they're hosting live shows about shopping deals this weekend, but some are bound to pop up. Click the link to perform a simple search for Black Friday live shows on YouTube, which might be able to help you find the specific deal you're looking for.

Wirecutter: The fine writers, researchers, and deal-trackers over at @wirecutterdeals are always amenable to taking any shopping tips you find. If you're in a bind, they can also help you search for alternatives to That Deal That Got Away. Don't be afraid to shoot them a tweet during Black Friday if you need help, and follow their Twitter to make sure you don't miss out on the best editorially curated discounts.

Crowdsource newer, better deals

There are p-l-e-n-t-y of websites you can use to find Black Friday deals. Many of them are overwhelming. We care more about sites that let you know when Walmart messes up and offers a brand-new Nintendo Switch game for $29 instead of $59 on Black Friday. (Thanks!)  Or, better yet, sites you can use to find alternative deals—or enhance the deals you're already tracking—during this weekend's shopping chaos. Here are a few of our favorites:

Slickdeals: We already mentioned Slickdeals before, but it's worth bringing them up again for two reasons. First, you can use their deal alerts system to notify you whenever any community-sourced deal is posted about a particular product you're interested in. You can also set up and receive deal alert notifications via the Slickdeals iOS or Android apps, too.

Second, the Slickdeals community is huge. As as result, users are often able to find even better add-ons for posted deals—like stackable coupons, cashback sites, credit card offers, or pricing mistakes—which they leave as comments in the deal threads. These are golden and worth scouring for any deal or product you were interested in. You might even be able to save more money or, if the deal has expired, find a great alternative.

Doctor of Credit: This is a fairly new site I check on a regular basis, but it offers an incredible number of general-purpose deals for various retailers. Here's how that's useful. Suppose you want to buy a game from one retailer, but the deal is popular and the game goes out of stock. Using Doctor of Credit, you can check to see if other retailers are offering more generic "save $xx on a $xx purchase" offers, which might allow you to replicate the savings of the deal you were trying to score—even if a retailer isn't offering a specific deal for that exact product.

Kinja Deals: This continually updated post is a little clunky to read, and it can feel a little "everything and the kitchen sink," but the Gizmodo Media Group puts a ton of effort into its Black Friday coverage. Its primary deal thread is a good "did I miss anything?" resource for all things tech and gaming. Even better, you can leave comments in the discussion thread if you need specific help sourcing another deal for a sold-out item.

Reddit: This huge collection of message boards is a great place for crowdsourcing deals (and asking about alternatives for anything you missed). You just have to know which subreddits to track. Some of our favorite places to find big savings include: /r/deals, /r/dealsreddit, /r/gamedeals, /r/coupons, /r/singleusecodes, and /r/buildapcsales. You can also get Black Friday-specific by subscribing to /r/blackfriday, or you can subscribe to subreddits dedicated to savings for a specific platform, such as /r/ps4deals, /r/greatxboxdeals, or /r/nintendoswitchdeals.

There's an app for that?

If you're still struggling to find a good replacement for a deal that went awry, consider installing a comparison shopping app like ShopSavvy. This app, available for iOS and Android, can help you quickly see if other retailers are matching a deal that just expired, sold out, or disappeared. The app's barcode scanner is especially useful when you're shopping at a store in-person, as you can quickly confirm that the price you're seeing is a great deal—or not.