Dick Smith sale still three times more expensive

It’s nice that Dick Smith have a 15% off everything sale, however I am simply not interested in shopping there any more.

Dick Smith are meant to be a cheap place to get electrical and electronic kit, but they seemingly abandoned that cause a while ago, and are now selling products to unsuspecting consumers at unjustifiable prices.

I refer of course to HDMI cables (or any cables really).

The cheapest HDMI cable you can buy on sale at Dick Smith, with the 15% discount, is a staggering $55.23.

Meanwhile the cheapest HDMI cable on Ascent is $18.23 – and they have 14 HDMI cables under $36.

HDMI cables carry digital signals. Digital signals either get there or not – there is no degradation. So you can compare those prices directly.

Simply put – Dick Smith is selling HDMI cables for three times more than Ascent. They are doing this because they are either buying expensive branded cables, or they are marking up the cheaper cables by outrageous amounts. In short they could give their customers a  much fairer go but are choosing not to.

The Lesson

Dick Smith has now successfully completed the transformation my impression of their stores from cheap places to buy stuff to expensive rip-off merchants. It now seems that I will go out of my way to tell people to avoid Dick Smith stores.

The 15% off sale seems to be an indication both that their margins are far too fat across the board, and that they are struggling with sales volumes. It raises the question of just what their business model is, and how much longer they will last.

What you can do

We need to send a message to Dick Smith. They are destroying their business, and frankly I’d rather they didn’t.

So ask for HDMI cables at your local Dick Smith store, and when you see the prices loudly exclaim that they are three times more expensive than Ascent and ask “Why is Dick Smith so expensive?” The people behind the counter know just as well as you do that the prices are out of whack, but this is a fun exercise to do with the store manager.

If you do need cables, or anything electronic, then buy them at Ascent or Trade Me.

Wait a few more weeks or months, and then pick up the real bargains at the Dick Smith closing down sales.

To summarise it all nicely when I tried to repeat the search for other types cables I got this:

Published by Lance Wiggs


38 replies on “Dick Smith sale still three times more expensive”

  1. I’ve been avoiding Dick Smith’s for years and telling friends not to go there as well. I’ll try Ascent or one of the comparison shopping sites for most things and if I need something right away I’ll go to a physical store. The key with physical stores is to find one of the many dodgy looking computer stores that has someone working there who knows their stuff. Once you find someone good stick with them, they tend to stock the most esoteric things you could need and know exactly what you are after which is a far cry from DSE staff who don’t know Firewire 400 from 800.


  2. Hey Lance,

    DSE is actually great for some things – not so much for others. Here are a few examples where DSE is great value this weekend.

    Xbox 360 Pro console –
    Ascent: $475.80, DSE: $378.25

    Least expensive ADSL 2+ modem / 4-port router –
    Ascent: $89.59, DSE: $59.48

    WD TV (great product for watching downloaded media on a TV) –
    Ascent: $309.93, DSE: $249

    Canon EOS450D single lens kit –
    Ascent: $1645.20, DSE: $1359.15

    Logitech X-230 2.1 speakers –
    Ascent: $98.75, DSE: $67.98

    Even without a sale, I often find things at DSE at the same price or cheaper than Ascent. For other things, Ascent is a no-brainer. It really does pay to shop around. It’s also nice to have a brick & mortar alternative when you want something the same day.

    Unlike every other big electronics retailer in NZ, DSE is actually pursuing a web presence with some competency, and their service and return policies have always been fantastic. I really do hope they stick around – because otherwise we’ll be left with Noel Leeming, Harvey Norman (whose website still consists of a PDF of their latest catalogue, if you’re lucky) and the like.


  3. Dick Smiths went down hill in the late 90’s when it did what Farmers et al did by jumping on the computer sellers band wagon. Luckily Farmers remembered they were a clothing store and returned to their roots and have become successful again. Dick Smiths hasn’t and Jaycar now proudly (and moderately successfully) fill the niche spot that Dick Smiths vacated. I avoid Dick Smiths like the plague but I’m always spending money in Jaycar.

    It’ll be interesting to see how DSE change. This seems to be their first signal of an attempt to boost their image or sales but looks to me like they’re heading down Kathmandu’s route of the incessant sale. I know for a fact that Kathmandu have horrendous markups in their stores and their sales model represents this clearly, seems I only ever see Kathmandu shopping bags with sale clearly emblazzoned on them.

    As an aside, DSE do manage to do some good prices on some things:
    DSE have it at $250, $130 under their nearest competitor but I imagine that’s a loss leader for the cables you’ll buy to make it work!


  4. I twittered about this the other day. USB extension cable @ DSE was $24.75. Next door at “Morning Computers”, $5.63. I went back to DSC and vowed and declared to them that I would never set foot in their store(s) ever again! Hah!


  5. Out of those products the only ones DSE will be price gouging on will be the Titanium ones – these are their own brand. Others will simply have the manufacturers SRP or close to it.

    While DSE are in a sence ripping off their customers they’re also around 50% cheaper than the cheapest HDMI cable you’ll buy at Harvey Norman. Try asking them what their cheapest HDMI cable is… First they’ll tell you a Monster cable is essential and gives the best results. Ask for something cheaper and they carry a cheaper model that sell for ~$119 that they’ll typically do for $99 if you’re buying it with an appliance.

    Are DSE really ripping off their customers? Their price for HDMI cables is comparable to the price of HDMI cables at most retail stores.


  6. Steve
    Yes – even so I still think they are ripping us off.

    Harvey Norman and co are absolutely ripping us of, but Dick Smith was always meant to be the cheap place to get things like cables.

    It now clearly isn’t, and thus they are stuck in a middle ground between Harvey Norman’s economic store sizes and the low prices on the internet driving away their core traffic.

    I had no idea that Farmers went into computer sales. That’s quite amusing.

    Amnon and Scott
    Yes – they do have some items for cheap, but you are now forced to shop around because you know that everything isn’t cheap. If you are going to have to shop around then isn’t it easier to do that on the internet? Sure Dick Smith may be one of the options, but now their nation wide infrastructure is looking pretty expensive.

    With their much larger size Dick Smith should be able to obtain much better wholesale prices than Ascent, and they should be passing these on to us.

    The scary thing for them must be the slowing of sales of things like the XBox and TVs during the economic turndown. Lowering margins on those items may bring sales back to previous levels, but they must be hurting on the cash flow and P/L.

    Best Buy anyone?


  7. @lancewiggs

    Best Buy anyone?

    Have you looked at Best Buy’s website? Chaapest HDMI cable they sell is US$28.49 on special (reg $29.99). Best Buy have suffered plenty of bad press for pushing Monster cables on people using exactly the same sales tactics that Narvey Norman and Norman Ross use here in NZ.

    DSE might be “ripping us off” by making a higher than normal margin on their own brandned products but they’re simply pricing a product according to the market. They are cheaper than their competitors and obviously believe they have a price that is competitive. Is that not a basic rule of business?


  8. Also wasn’t the sale 15% off EVERYTHING as displayed on their TV ad. I note in small print it did sale some exclusions apply, but it didn’t mention what those exclusions were, so they were using ‘Bait Advertising’ to lure customers in. This advetising is misleading because they weren’t offering anything off apple ipod products they were selling. COme on Dick Smiths, 15% off everything is supposed to mean 15% of everything, unless you clearly display all the exclusions. People should support NZ businesses during this recession/depression, as buying products from places like dick Smiths and Harvey Normans, any profits the company makes it exported back to Oz.


  9. Hi there

    I happen to be an employee of a Dick Smith store. You are comparing an internet store to a local retail store. I work there and I will admit you can get pretty much anything we sell cheaper on the internet. The reason is obvious, DSE being a retail store prices on market value and also has other cost recovery to take into consideration that online stores do not. I think if you went into any other major retail store in New Zealand you are going to see things 3 times more expensive then online.. One thing i do not agree with inside the company is being owned by Progressive Enterprises (Countdown, Foodtown) and being brought into line with supermarkets. There is no similarity between a supermarket and an electronics retail store.


  10. Lance,

    Are you sure you don’t have any interest in Ascent, sounds like you own the company.

    There are many other cheaper sites than Ascent also.


    1. no financial interest at all – and I have not even met them.

      They are not perfect, but seem to get it. Ascent was very slow on delivering my latest hard drive, and sent the wrong model by mistake. However before it arrived they had contacted me, offered an exchange (but the one I wanted was still in back order) or a refund of the difference. I took the refund and they paid it. L


  11. Here is my experiance recently with Dick Smith.
    Was in the market for an external hard drive for backups.
    Saw on Dick Smith a Western Digital 500gb My Passport essential on special with $70 off normal price of $319. $249 was in my price range, I liked the size of the unit, price seemed OK from a reputable name so purchased. 2 days later they had it on a further special on their website…another $30 off the “normal” price of $249…yeah but I thought $319 was the normal price??!!. So I took the one I bought back to the shop, got my money back, no questions asked and went back home and purchased it off their website for $219. The same item on Ascent is $263. So they can be OK for some things.


  12. Lol moron…1stly ppl here have it…dick smith make low margins on things like consoles and TVs (see comparisons ppl make on gaming console prices at ascent to DSE) 2ndly people behind the counter DO NOT CONTROL PRICING nor do their managers…i hate dick heads like you who think they do…if you want results do something constructive like creating a petition or wirting a formal letter of complaint (i doubt youll get far but its a hell of a lot mroe productive to abuse people who actually control these things. Lastly if you look into it there are actually different speed categories of HDMI cables which are categorically rated, further with cheap brands attenuation may happen over longer cables…do some research before flaming


    1. thanks for the comment.

      1&2 – This is about abnormally high pricing for HDMI cables, and that is set by HQ. 3: I wrote a blog post instead. Fair Go, a huge consumer rights TV program here, picked up the same issue a bit later (no idea if there was a connection) and it’s now well out there.

      There is no difference in speed in cables- its a digital cable and it either works or it does not. L


  13. This isn’t comparing apples to apples, this is comparing cheap Chinese made cables with known brands. When you get down the Ascent list to a known quality brand like the Belkin cables and look! Similar prices to Dick Smith.

    I don’t like some of the crap they sell at Dick Smith but if your going to compare prices at least do it properly!

    Ascent wins by not having the expense of a retail outlet, selling cable sourced from cheaper (possibly less quality control) suppliers and doesn’t have the requirement to carry the stock.

    When you buy a brand new Mega sized TV, are you sure you want to wait 3 days for the delivery of a cable? What’s the cost of that?


  14. Has no one taken into consideration the retail stores like msy, pcdiy, scorpion, umart etc?
    There is no debating that Dick Smith rip people off shi*loads.
    NO ONE CAN DENY THAT!!!!!!!!


  15. There customer service is pretty shocking. I went into the Newmarket store with a MP3 return, the desk guy “Ali” took it personally, very angry. Thought I was about to be in a MMA match. Then the Manager backed him up. Had to go to another store to make the return!!

    Made a complaint with a few of the managers, but of course it was my fault for buying a piece of crap outdated MP3(new model waiting out thew back for all the old ones to sell!!).

    So decided to take my business to PB Tech in Penrose and EZone in Takapuna for computer stuff, JB Hi Fi for games. All prices are cheaper, and no angry staff with no idea. Why shop at DSE at all, when a quick interweb search gives you much better prices at PB Tech. And their customer service is fine.

    So I am mystified as to how DSE intend to stay afloat, charge higher prices you need excellent customer service. And I don’t really need customer service, I know what I want, research prices online, then buy it.

    PB Tech do have good technical staff. DSE staff woulodn’t know a computer if it slapped them over the back of the heads.

    I suspect DSE is holding a lot of old gear from Australia and flicking it in NZ. Oh well, my last experience with them anyhow.

    I’m not sure how being angry with customers is a win. Forget complaining also, better to go online with your concerns.


  16. @lancewiggs

    Interesting post. However, your statement that all HDMI cable prices can be compared directly, on the basis that digital signals either get there or not, that a HDMI cable either works or it does not, is unfortunately a somewhat flawed argument.

    Yes, a HDMI cable carries digital signals which either get there or not. However, saying a HDMI cable either works or does not is most certainly over simplifying the story.

    The reality is that depending on various factors, including the quality of the cable, the quality of the shielding (to resist interference), the length of the cable, the bandwidth required (resolution of the image), and even the design (chipsets used) of the HDMI interfaces being connected, it is actually quite common that all of the digital bits do not in fact get there!

    At the extreme end this is easily demonstrated by connecting a cheap 10m HDMI cable carrying a full 1080p signal, and noting the “sparklies” (for want of a better term) that can be clearly seen appearing all over the screen. This is the visual representation of the lost bits that did not “get there”. Most importantly, the bits that “get there” is far from an “all or nothing” thing. ie. It is not a case of you get an image, or you do not (works or does not etc.).

    Sure, to the average punter, a few lost bits may certainly go unnoticed, however to those Home Theatre enthusiasts with an eye for detail, a few lost bits will impact their viewing enjoyment. My personal experience in testing a range of cables over the years, is that there is a wide diversity in the quality of HDMI cables. As with most things, you do in many cases get what you paid for. I can confirm that the DSE Titanium range are significantly better than many of the cheap cables you can find shopping around online.

    Sure, if you don’t notice or care about an occasional dropped digital “bit” on a budget LCD TV using a cheap HDMI cable, then for sure, go buy the cheapest you can find. But if you have an eye for detail, and have invested in a high-end TV, then spending a few more dollars on a better quality HDMI cable will ensure less “bits” are lost (or perhaps no “bits” are lost) in the journey down the HDMI cable’s electrical connection.

    But, please do not imply that all HDMI cables are equal in performance. Basing your conclusions on this flawed argument is really not that much different than saying DSE are rip-off merchants because they sell a Sony 32″ LCD TV for more than 3 times the price of a 32″ Transonic. After all, a digital TV either displays an image or it doesn’t! :)




  18. In reply to Calienteh: HD cables for $7.00================ Possibly….But, you will NOT even get quality gold plated connections on a good HDMI cable for that price !!

    How many microns of Gold are on the connectors of poor cables ???? 01/02/03 ??? Perhaps remove the cable a few times and it has gone ??. I have seen specifications ranging from 3 to 15 microns of plating. Also, there is the quality of Shielding, SWG wire gauge, Mbps speed ratings,etc etc. Apparently, a few of the high quality 1.3 cables may work with HDMI 1.4. Of course, there are also some ultra cheap makes around that only have Zinc plated connectors. So….they are not born equal. While some of the poor quality short length cables may appear to work satisfactorily, poor quality cables are renowned for degrading when over 5 metre in length.

    TV holder brackets are not all born equal. if you are unhappy with $125.00, you can find them up to $800.

    However, if you want to drool over a Transonic TV, Cobol or whatever, perhaps a cheap Chinese stereo with poor speakers instead of a Quality Denon or Yamaha 7.1 or 9.1 Receiver matched to quality speakers – go for it and enjoy if that’s what you like. The fore mentioned could be likened to cheap carpet – may look great ! …..providing you don’t walk on it !!


  19. “Harvey Norman and co are absolutely ripping us of, but Dick Smith was always meant to be the cheap place to get things like cables.”

    Umm, I know this is dredging up an old post(I somehow ended up on this blog after reading the mercury post)-but since when have they meant to be a cheap place to get cables?

    Probably not since Mr Smith himself sold the company.

    DSE etc are slaves to suppliers.

    Belkin are known for being margin cash cows, they no doubt have stretch targets with the suppliers such as Ingram Micro. For DSE and Harvey Norman, these stretch Targets and Rebates ensure a nice cash flow for company and Franchise stores.

    Generally they’ll be selling them at the SRP, meaning there’s a bit of fat to pay for things like Mall rent/wages/lights/security that Ascent n co don’t have to.

    Online retail is changing the landscape, but apart from Apples standalone stores, no one is doing a thing about the brick n mortar presence that is anything outstanding.

    Anyways, this subject has been done to death, along with extended warranties and the Iphone 4’s flaws.

    Next topic?


  20. hi im sick of dick smiths first their staff dont know what you are talking about. Also I bought an ipod for my son who came home in sept 2005 he started it and the dam thing wouldnt work he took it in to dick smiths and they said they had fixed it he took it home and it still didnt work properly as it should so i pick it up when i was up in auckland to take it in to the guy who told me any problems mam and we will replace it noe after it has been taken in to them 3 times in auckland there manager says no we have to send it away as IN THIS INSTANCE IT IS THE FIRST TIME YOU HAVE BOUGHT IT TO US AS WE ARE A DIFFERENT STORE. he told me it will have to be sent away for their tech guys to look at, i said under the comsumers gantees act if is not working for the purpose it was bought for then im entitled to a refund or replacement but no he says not and he finihsed with if i dont like it i can leave the shop. so it looks like 349.00 down the drain why is the consumer has to fight so sdarn hard after spending big bucks to get a fair deal with dick smiths


    1. Lol you have no idea what you’re talking about, if you can’t use technology don’t buy it, And don’t even start about the consumers guarantee act.


  21. I agree with all those saying the customer service at DS is crap. I’ve had a number of issues with the utter incompetence of their “knowledgable’ staff and insane price hikes on inspection work – over $80 to take the back off a DS lite. There are no circumstances in which I will give my money to Dick Smiths again


  22. Take the back off a DS lite? You do realise that there is no way a staff member would be doing that in store?

    Most likely its had to get sent back to the supplier, who has inspected it for liquid damage. Then charged DS if there is no fault found?

    Go to any other retailer, and it will probably be the same.

    Go easy on these guys(i have never worked for DSE-but two competitors), its all the same. New technology, customers with overblown expectations. There is NO margin in consumer electronics. Hence JB hifi, having massive massive shops to make cash.

    Consumer electronics are pretty much like Mcdonalds now.


  23. Im sorry to say but your just ignorant if you think a $20 dollar or even $60 dollar HDMI cable is going to work properly. You are also mistaken if you think a HDMI either works or it doesn’t. Hate to tell you but HDMI can make up to 50% errors and still marginaly work because of error correcting that is done by certain products. If the memory that does this is filled however you can get end up with dropouts. This one cable is replacing in some cases 11 cables (3 for video and 8 for 7.1 audio) that would be fair to charge up to $10 each for good quality cables it also has 19 pins which arent all connected on the cheap crap. On top of all it can handle if its certified, its capeable of better picture, sound, full surround audio return, ethernet and there is even provisions for products to communicate together. If you had near as much experience with different cables as some one who deals with the cheap cables and their problems you wouldn’t waste your time or money on crap. You obviously have no useful knowledge on how digital signal is affected in an analogue medium or any useful experience with HDMI problems. So you keep using what you want but don’t go arround missleading people with your lack of education.


    1. I really hope this commenter isn’t selling these cables. It does make me wonder where this garbage information justifying wildly expensive cables comes from – are the suppliers providing it?


  24. Wish stupid people like you would understand the staff including the Store Manager don’t decide the prices and they try to do deals whenever they can but they have the lease and power and wages to pay. Well, dreams are free. But staff aren’t and power isn’t. Get a clue, grow up. They need to make money or they can’t run a business. DUH. I bet Dick Smith is glad you don’t shop there anyway, you’re so obnoxious, arrogant, ignorant and annoying…


    1. Please leave personal attacks aside.
      Stupid and smart people everywhere understand that retail staff and managers in chain stores have restricted levels of authority. The blame here goes squarely on the senior management for Dick Smith, not on frontline staff who are often just happy to have a job, and sometimes genuinely helpful, despite poor training and inflated prices.


      1. well there seems to be alot of personal attacks against Dick smiths workers.there is absolutley no margin in consumer electronics.the average profit on a xbox console is $5!!!!
        and as for that person who says they exclude apple ipods from sale.they make less than $10 on an ipod u doofus.if you want things that are below cost go to the salvation army.

        as for this article.what a load of BS.saw a HDMI cable for $12.50 at Dick smith the other day.and yes they are a retail store and have to pay rent on properties and pay staff etc.

        the staff are there to assit customers who DONT know what they need or know what they are after.


        1. and no im not a dick smith worker.i actually work at a compediter of theres.but none the less an electronic store.


      2. You said its a fun exercise to play with the manager. That is ridiculous. The manager has NO say in prices for things like that. Dick Smith is getting sold now, guess that puts a smile on your face. Yay for you!!!!!!!


  25. I think they are on the way out more and more. Especially now found out reselling returns as new. They are in the same space as JB Hi-Fi and will be getting pounded big time. A bit like Fletcher Placemakers vs Mitre 10 and Bunnings – can’t mgmt see they are heading to a disaster – its like they are asleep at the wheel. Oh well…….


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