Electronics Store Ripoff

I just finished buying some audio cable adapters online at monoprice.com, marvelling at how I was being charged about a quarter apiece for something that I paid six or seven dollars for in the past at a physical store.  It’s not often that I do this sort of thing, but I am so happy with monoprice.com’s low prices and intelligent shipping costs that I’ve decided to provide a shameless plug for the best place to buy cables, adapters, and such online:

Below is a random sample of typical A/V cables and adapters, comparing the price from Future Shop and monoprice.com.  Note that Future Shop’s prices are the same for both their physical store and their online store. Also note that I’ve included local sales tax prices for Future Shop and shipping costs to Canada for monoprice.com prices.


Sample comparison: RCA Y-adapter (male to 2 female)


Sample comparison: 6′ HDMI cable


Sample comparison: 20′ RCA audio cable


Sample comparison: 25′ Male-to-male VGA cable w. Male-to-Male stereo 3.5mm audio plug


Sample comparison: 12′ Toslink optical audio cable


To help visualize the difference in price, I made this little chart:


So, if you can stand to wait a week for your cables, you are way better off ordering them from monoprice.com instead of driving to a “big box” electronics store.  And not only are the prices cheaper, the selection is incredible!  There are lots of options in cable length (and sometimes wire gauges). Some types of cables (like HDMI cables) are even available in multiple colors, making it easy to color-code the mass of wires behind your entertainment systems.

It’s true that shipping adds a lot to the cost of items from monoprice.com, but the combined cost still beats out the big box store price by at least half in the worst case.  If you are buying several smaller items, the shipping price can remain pretty low.  For example, the shipping cost for a single RCA Y-adapter (male to 2 female) listed above is $2.03, but if, for some reason, you need ten of them, shipping comes out to $2.45 in total.

I remember buying four or five HDMI cables for a little over $3 apiece around the time I bought my LCD TV.  At the time, similar cables were selling for almost ten times that much at the store.  The equivalent Monster brand cables still sell for $90, which is an awful lot to pay for cables filled with snake oil to lubricate the electrical signal waves to travel faster down the cable.

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