JB Hi-Fi is one of Australia’s most well-known retailers and home to some of the sharpest reviews in the country. While we’ve previously explained how you should always ask for a deal at JB Hi-Fi, these tips from an insider will help you to get the most out of your trip to the black and yellow behemoth whether you’re in the market for video games, a new laptop or a fridge.
I've had the opportunity to work in several big retail chains in my life and they all operate slightly differently. Some are results-driven and all about their bottom line, some are interested in personal service and repeat customers and some I'd rather not talk about. What follows is a primer on some of the things I learnt as both an employee and a customer while shopping at JB Hi-Fi.
What Does JB Hi-Fi Sell?
Approaching this top-down, JB Hi-Fi stores are separated into different departments that fall into two different sections. The first - and most relevant if you’re looking to save a few dollars - is “Hardware” which contains most consumer electronics and entertainment devices, in addition to things like musical instruments and car audio. Depending on the type of store you’re in, JB Hi-Fi also sell small appliances and whitegoods.
Salespeople that work in these departments are required to meet personal and departmental budgets every week. They also earn a commission on the items that they sell.
The other section is “Software”, which deals with Music, Movies and Video Games. Somewhere in between the two are accessories staff that predominantly deal with things like phone cases, cables, power banks and smaller pick-up-and-go items.
Staff who work in the software departments, or on the counter, don’t work on commission and are not beholden to budget targets each week. Fundamentally, this means that you can’t try and haggle with them or get them to give you their ‘best price’, but they will try and price match for you, or find someone that can price match for you, if asked.
How To Price Match
The policy at JB Hi-Fi is relatively straightforward. If you want to price match, the item you're matching has to be the exact same product (down to specific model numbers), able to be bought in a brick-and-mortar store within the vicinity of the JB Hi-Fi you’re shopping at and the competitor has to have the product in stock. Basically, staff are generally willing to price match for you, if you can provide them with reasonable evidence.
Therefore, you should research what you’re in the market for before you enter the store and if it’s advertised cheaper elsewhere, save the webpage or an image on your phone to make the transaction much faster. Most of the time, price matching occurs without any questions asked, but if a price seems too good to be true – it usually is. If you try to pull a swifty on the salesperson, they’re going to go and check the price online.
On the other hand, if you have seen a cheaper price at an online retailer it is worth questioning the salesperson about it. Some of them may be willing to meet you in the middle and offer a price that’s better than the RRP but not quite as good as online.
Notably, they will not price match places like Kogan or websites that feature grey imports. JB Hi-Fi does also not have a ‘price guarantee’ where they will refund you if you find the item at a better price after you purchase it. So, it’s definitely worth researching a baseline price first and ensuring you walk out with the best price you can.
If you’re in the market for a big ticket laptop – such as Apple Macbooks and Microsoft Surface – then keep an eye out for specials. Apple products are very, very rarely sold for less than 10 per cent off their retail value and generally a 10 per cent off Apple sale will only run from Thursday to Sunday, at best. Similar deals occur with the same consistency for Microsoft Surface products. Deals on other laptop brands run more regularly and can net you up to 15 per cent off the RRP or more. It pays to be patient when buying a new laptop and keeping your eye on the latest deals.
I feel like JB Hi-Fi has become the pre-eminent destination for purchasing TVs with a great range of all the biggest names and really competitive pricing that stacks up with competitors like Harvey Norman and Bing Lee. TV specials don’t roll around quite as cyclical as something like laptops, so you have to keep your eye on their website and catalogue, our Dealhacker series and places like OzBargain to ensure you catch the best deals on offer because sometimes these are only available for a single day.
Most punters still look at JB Hi-Fi as a retail store that deals with electronics, but they’ve rapidly pushed into the whitegoods and small appliances market over the last couple of years and are a great option when looking for new products for the home. It’s important to remember when buying fridges or washing machines that these are generally purchases you make out of necessity, not because you want the latest, greatest drinks cooler.
Thus, all retailers that operate in this space generally try to up-sell customers from lower-priced models to fancy ‘you-can-order-groceries-from-your-fridge-door’ type models. Saving money in this department is 50 per cent about becoming a great haggler, 50 per cent about waiting for great deals. JB Hi-Fi will often run free delivery on certain models and also offer longer interest free terms (often up to 50 months) through their finance provider, HSBC.
Music And Movies
CDs, Vinyl, DVDs and Blu-Rays are items that don’t have a lot of margin in them. To save money in these departments, the best thing to do is wait for clearance sales (for CDs and DVDs it’s typically 20 per cent), 2-for-1 deals and release-day specials.
When buying video games: Most staff won’t just turn around and give you a discount because you asked. There is very little margin in these sorts of sales. But if you are armed with the best price (we routinely cover best prices at release over at Kotaku), then price matching is the best way to go. JB Hi-Fi are really good at ensuring that on release day they have a really competitive, if not the best, price. I’ve also found that there’s a culture of honesty that permeates the business too so if there is a better price in the local area, most of the time they’re already across it and will ensure you pay the best price at the time.
When buying consoles: One of the most misunderstood aspects of the video game department is console deals. JB Hi-Fi is routinely changing their console deals but salespeople cannot alter these deals in any way because they are negotiated with the upper management and the console manufacturers. There are occasions where they will price match crazy bundle prices at competing retailers, but for the most part, they are unable to.
When Dealing With A Salesperson
If you read the reviews of employees that have worked for JB Hi-Fi, you find that it’s a mostly positive experience, though many comment on the imposing sales budgets as something like a Sword of Damocles. This works to the consumer’s advantage because salespeople are looking to get you a deal that both helps them meet their weekly budget and ensures you don't leave the store empty-handed.
In my experience, the salespeople that work in each department are knowledgeable about the products they sell. I would say it’s worth hunting down salespeople from each particular department – try not to get a camera salesperson if you want to buy a TV – because they are often across the latest developments and pricing in their particular department, but not so much in others. This will ensure that you are getting quality recommendations and not just some mumbo-jumbo a salesperson is recycling from the ticket underneath the product.
If you feel like a salesperson is overtly directing you to a particular product then that product may be worth extra money to them. It’s not necessarily because they think it is better, but because it is earning them a little extra cash. High-end laptops, TVs and fridges are all prime targets here and brands also encourage salespeople to sell their products by tacking on a ‘spiv’ – a bonus that they receive for selling that particular product. Therefore, a little background research on the type of product you want beforehand is a great idea to ensure you’re getting honest information and not just grabbing a pitch to try and line a salesperson’s pocket.
After Sale Support
JB Hi-Fi, like most retailers, are at the whim of Australian Consumer Law and have extensive documentation detailing your rights in regards to warranty and refund. Of particular note is the 'Minimum Voluntary Warranty Policy' which "sets out the minimum time periods within which JB Hi-Fi will offer you a refund, replacement or repair". It is important to note that you may still have extra rights under Australian Consumer Law though, as we have documented previously.
From experience, staff are willing to help with any refund or warranty issues provided that you approach them in a friendly manner and don’t make it seem like they caused the issue. Sometimes things just don’t work, so work with the salesperson to remedy the situation, rather than blaming them for it.
JB Hi-Fi is a company that built itself up over the last 30 years but has maintained a highly personal approach to retail. Staff still make hand-drawn signs and posters, write every single ticket you see on display and provide excellent one-on-one service. No matter what piece of tech you're going in to buy, JB Hi-Fi is a great option. But it isn't the be-all, end-all. Getting the best deal and best product for you is all about shopping around, so while I fully believe you should make JB Hi-Fi one stop on the train to Discountsville, there's plenty of retailers just as worthy of your time.
This story has been updated since its original publication.