Is Harvey Norman Misleading Customers About HDMI Monster Cables?

Is Harvey Norman Misleading Customers About HDMI Monster Cables?

We’ve all been there — you’re buying a television/console, you’ve agreed to buy your brand new plasma/LCD/PS3/360 and within seconds the Old Gill-esque salesman is trying the old ‘spend $200 on a ridiculously overpriced HDMI cable’ trick. Looks like Harvey Norman has taken that trick to all new levels, cleverly attempting to compare Monster HDMI cables with regular composite cables in store.

Trog for Ausgamers spotted the above, completely unfair comparison in Indooroopilly, QLD.

The first thing I saw was the two screens and the Monster cable sign, so I immediately was interested to see the “Monster difference”.

The second thing I saw was that the difference between the two images was simply staggering. The one on the left – with the Monster cable – was crystal clear and looked fantastic. The one on the right was blurry and terrible. You can’t tell the difference in the photo (from my mobile phone) but it was immediately obvious, even from a distance.

However, the bad one on the right was way, way, way too bad to be anything other than non-digital. Anyone that has ever compared a monitor plugged in via DVI to one plugged in via VGA would know exactly what I mean – the difference is amazing – and completely unsurprising.

I could not believe that they would do a display like this with such a cheap “trick”, but looking behind the screens, sure enough I saw a composite cable plugged in.

This is crazy. I’d love Harvey Norman to plug in its cheapest HDMI cable for a comparison between that and the Monster cable, and see how many poor folks it could rope into spending a ludicrous amount of money then.

As far as I’m concerned this is pretty shady. As Nick Broughall over at Gizmodo Australia so aptly put it: friends don’t let friends waste buckets of money on Monster cables…

Monster Cable Display at Harvey Norman Indooroopilly [Ausgamers — Thanks Gizmodo!]

Comments

  • It seems the common knowledge that pretty much all HDMI cables are the fucking same hasn’t dribbled down to the lay person. I am sure this actually works on people, that is what is truly sad.

    • I work in a locally owned electronics store, and I do my best to tell every customer looking at HDMI (or any other digital cable) that the expensive ones look no different.

      • I likewise work in a chain electronics store (wont name names) and i do the exact same thing too, nothing in them.

      • I used to also work for a chain electronics retailer also.. We never pushed monster cables. I was a manager too, no one is getting sacked for not selling that stuff. Its nice if you can sell it, but its a very hard sell. Some people will still by it even if you tell them a $10 one is just as good.. too much money I guess..

        I remember one time a sales rep from Monster came and told us all about their products.. we lol’d the whole way through it..

        One time they had a contest for who could ‘sell’ the most, so we gave away their cheapest $15 coax cable with each TV we sold and won ourselves a bunch of money from Monster for a night on the piss.. win.

    • Standard practice. They make nothing on the major products but a killing on the accessories. All those $500-$700 laptops, zero profit and in somecases they’re running at a loss. But the laptop case you bought to put it in, 500%+ markup.
      My little brother left HN a month ago because he just wastn’t b@stard enough to keep ripping off the customers, he kept giving good advice and discounts so they “asked him to leave”.

      • Well to be fair giving “discounts” is generally frowned upon unless agreed to by management. It’s kind of like stealing.

        • Wrong, most places add more to the price just so they can give discounts. They usually only discount if someone asks for it and they brag about fools that pay full price. Go to any store like Harvey Norman and watch how many things they will “discount” upon request.

  • This is an incredibly dodgy practice thrown on top of an already dodgy practice – the notion of advertising digital transmission as having a level of ‘quality’.

    Fact is, in the realms of HDMI cables (a digital technology), the data either gets there or it doesn’t. There is no such thing as signal degradation in this space as there is with analogue transmission.

    Either your HDMI cable is capable of transmitting the data correctly or it isn’t – there are no shades of grey.

    That ‘premium’ cable companies sell their product at a premium with any reason that does not relate to the durability of their cables upsets me know end.

    Damnable misinformation.

  • I’ve used Monster cables, and I’ve also used $8 cables I’ve bought online. Never saw appreciable differences, in either video or audio… YMMV.

    • Yeah, that’s on par with the Myer “Get’s the right size” gaffe.

      Both the grammatical error and the practice itself are appalling.

    • If this was Kotaku US I’d heart you, or do one of those sorts of “I approve this message” things. As it is, all I can do is make a more or less useless comment.

  • If your spending more then $30 on HDMI your getting ripped off. I bought a Apple TV from JB and they asked if I need a HDMI cord. I said yes but then asked how much and they said $60. I laughed and said I’ll buy one somewhere else. I was told that by them that the $60 cables are the only HDMI cables that will work with it. I laughed at him and left.

  • Back when Sony were offering free PS3’s with their TV’s, I got the TV/PS3 deal from Harvey Norman, and as I’d never had any HD products before, got roped into buying a $200 1 metre HDMI cable. No problem with the cable… it remains plugged into my TV and PS3 and have not had a problem with it.

    I also use a HDMI cable to plug my PC into my TV to watch movies etc. For this, I use a $5 5 Metre HDMI cable I bought online. Out of curiosity, I swapped the cables to see the difference…
    …There was none. At least, none that I could see.

    The only problem with the $5 jobs, is that they don’t seem to last as long. That being said, I use the $5 one, as I said, to connect my computer to my Tv. Often the cable is running across the floor, and gets tripped over, etc. Also, I am constantly plugging/unplugging the cheapo one, where as the expensive one remains constantly plugged into the PS3.

    Still, I’d rather spend $5 once a year toi replace the cheap one that spend $200 on the “good” one.

  • I hope this has been passed on to the ACCC. If a big company like HN gets away with it once, then everyone will try it on – the margins they can make on those cables are insane.

  • Take a photo.

    Take a photo of the back.

    Ask a shop assistant (record on phone in hand) if they’re both HDMI cables.

    Report to ACCC.

      • Then after realising that ACCC is about price fixing and anti-competitive trading and that you went to the wrong place; report them to consumer affairs as false and/or misleading advertising is within their jurisdiction and they will take action. Eventually.

    • The thing is, if you look at the sign in the picture – the one on the right says “connected with the cable in the box”. It doesn’t actually say that it’s HDMI or not. So there’s not reeeeally anything wrong with it. Sort of. Technically. Still pretty dodgy though.

  • I used to work in HiFi for a big Aussie retailer, and while there I took advantage of the buy direct discount for Belkin’s top of the range cables to refit all my interconnect and speaker cable. What would of cost me nearly $2500 at retail I got for just over $400. Talk about mark up!

  • and this i why i am glad not to be working for that mob anymore… shit like that happened ALL THE TIME where i used to be working…
    they easily make 200% to 300% margins on those cables if not more

  • I am shocked and appalled.

    Not really.

    I remember, i once won a 1k gift voucher at HN, so i thought, what the hell, might as well get a new TV from there.

    The salesmen tried so hard to push crap like Monster cables on me, claiming i would not be getting the real ‘Hi Def Experience’ with normal HDMI cables and that Monster cables could only produce True 1080p.

    • “Your ‘your’ should rather be spelt you’re. You’re probably infuriating your customers with your slipshod use of your/you’re. You’re welcome. Your.

  • I work in retail, for a competing company, and you wouldn’t believe how many people Harvey Norman have brainwashed into thinking that Monster cables are so much better.

    There was one customer who came in asking for Monster HDMI cables because his system was so “high end” that it NEEDED Monster cables, otherwise it wouldn’t work properly.

    *sigh*

  • My mate works at dick smith and he gats a commission on most of teh stuff that he sells. He says that the markup of any type of cable is astronomical. He always tries to sell one whenever someone buys a tv because he gets a bigger cut from the cable then he does from the tv.

  • They are dodgey. Full stop. I was robbed recently, and my insurance company forced me to go to Harvey Norman, with a certain amount of money to spend. I went to HN at Garden City and did a list, was then forced to go to Aspley. The prices at Aspley were ATLEAST 15-20% dearer than Garden City – Aspley is the “Insurance Store” apparently.

    I will never shop there again if I can avoid it.

  • While it’s not a fair comparison at all, no where on the sign does it say it’s plugged in with a HDMI cable, it’s just saying it’s from the box. So while it could actually be useful and helpful to some people, the fact that they’re trying to push with the stupidly expensive cable is just dodgy. Especially when you know how much the store pays for those cables… And for the really expensive ones, I would be surprised if they paid more than $30 for it.

  • I don’t think it’s dodgy, just overpriced. The sign doesn’t say it’s a ‘better’ HDMI at all.

    It would be another thing if you could catch an employee claiming that both TVs are on HDMI. But honestly, if you reported this to any watchdog they’d ignore it cause it’s not making any false claims.

    Having said that, it might not be dodgy but it’s completely overpriced. They’re just sharks. I don’t shop at Harvey Norman’s cause it’s all overpriced.

  • Its not wrong though? They COULD sell they’re cheapest HDMI, but why would ya?

    I bought my TV from them on a 40 month interest free deal, they had no boxed ones left so I took the display model and all the cables that were plugged into it anyway haha. Win for me.

  • Monster HDMI is just another fleece merchant like Turtle Beach, Razer, Apple, Beats Headphones.. the lists goes on I don’t know why people surrender to them.

    • The headphones thing is interesting, Gizmodo did a story on it a while ago. Brands like Skullcandy and a bunch of others all use the exact same cheap-assed headphones (from the same factory) and jsut add their own shell. They then add the approprate mark-up and market them as anything from budget to “dj quality”

  • This is a pretty old and well known thing (at least in the home theatre world) thing – in particular, it is a Monster cable marketing trick. They used to do it back in the analog days comparing a component (red, green blue) again a simple composite (yellow) cable. Of course the cable with more bandwidth is going to look better.

    Didn’t think they’d try the digital vs analog though.

  • Actually I just noticed the sign says “See what your missing”. There’s more of a crime against English here than anything else.

  • Domayne had a similar display when I bought my new TV last month. I did get a Monster cable, only because the salesman threw it in.

  • While I think the display is definitely ingenuine, it’s hardly ACCC affair. Besides, by looking at the photo in the link, it looks like its in HNs Monster cable section of the store. Why would they be advertising a quality difference between any other HDMI cable?

    Hell, does HN sell any other brand of HDMI cables?

    To avoid this whole affair, all they need to do is scrub the Monster name from the first comparison sheet. That way, it’s HDMI vs “cable in the box”. But as its in the Monster section, I doubt they’ll do that.

  • I actually work at the Myer in the same shopping centre as this Harvey Norman, and the amount of people we get in our store saying that Harvey tried to sell them a $200-$300 Monster cable to go with their $120 bluray player is ridiculous. They also try and sell people “digital tv starter kits” and powerboards, both of which apparently you NEED. Otherwise your shiny new digital tv “won’t work”.
    We did the same display of HDMI vs Composite at Myer, but we labeled it as such. We used it to show customers what the difference was and showed them a range of different HDMI cables. Harvey is just trying to trick consumers into thinking Monster is the only choice. Wish they’d get shut down.

  • Appalling how misleading HN is with their displays.

    Unfortunately the problem with monster goes further then HN as all throughout the headphone scene Monster have been conning people into buying their Beats by Dr Dre headphones, which fortunately have just been bought out by HTC who seem to take a little better care of their customers. Still that doesn’t forgive them for charging as much as $600 for headphones which are out performed by ones a third of the price.

  • HN are awful for the extras. My parents bought a TV from them and got roped into buying a $180 power board which it ‘needed’

    • I’m pretty sure the powerboard/surge protector thing as for the salespeople to make a bit of extra commision. A guy I knew sold me a tv at slightly below cost, but he said the only way he could get it through management was if I bought this $50 surge protector thing – I may or may not have been conned, but he got me a damn good deal on the TV.

  • Every chance you get you should explain to people that a cheap HDMI cable is perfectly fine.

    It’ is sad that some, shall we say, less savvy consumers are tricked into buying HDMI cables they don’t need. A salesperson telling you if you don’t buy some expensive cable you’ll essentially be missing out what your shiny new TV is capable of.

  • Whilst it is dodgy – you can see what they have done.

    They have compared the HDMI cable to the ‘cable that is in the box’, without specifying that the cable in the box is indeed composite. So it is a true comparison of HDMIs ability vs. composite but that’s it. Nothing illegal here, just unscrupulous.

  • Not surprised to see this from a corporation that has been fined over $2m in 12 months for shady practices. Sure, that’s a drop in the bucket, but far more than its competitors. How can they keep getting away with this?

  • I own a Jaycar Electronics stockist in Australia. We are a locally owned and operated business. Our HDMI v 1.4 cables are $9.95 each, and I sell 4 of them in a bundle pack for $25.00. There is absolutely NO discernible difference in image quality between them and MONSTER cables.

    We constantly have customer after customer come in after being ripped off and lied to about MONSTER cables.

    Needless to say, I bet you can imagine their faces when we show them our cables.

    Too bad people don’t research before buying.

    • Sometimes you can get them for $5! I’ve got 4 of them, never had a problem, thanks Jaycar.

      I was in videopro one day and the bloke next to me at the counter was being sold a $90 HDMI cable, I quietly told him that a $5 or $10 cable would do exactly the same thing, as it was a digital signal… he bought the $90 cable…

      • Yeah people don’t believe you. Its sometimes quite hard to convince people that digital cables are 1s and 0s. They believe the sales person for some reason because the sales person plants a seed of doubt that by not getting the expensive one you will be missing out.

        + to Jaycar. I’ve bought a couple $10 cables from them and the 1s and 0s appear to be travelling fine.

  • While I wouldn’t be surprised if Harvey Norman did do this, I see nothing in that picture to indicate that this is HN.

  • If your stupid enough to spend $200 on anything without doing adequate research you deserved to be fleeced.

    My golden rule is , if I am spending green , check the unforeseen.

  • Just this weekend my mother was nearly subjected to this scam. She wanted a $200 26 inch tv, but was nearly convinced by a HN salesperson that it needed a $150 cable to “work”. Good thing she called me.

    • And they also tried the digital TV starter kit line as well, as George mentioned.

      I keep trying to tell my mum not to shop there at all, but she won’t listen cause they have 50% off (so are only 25% more expensive than everywhere else).

  • bag hdmi looks good there cooking books which is probs something the ACCC would feel annoyed at them about. local store manager thinks all customers are dumb is all this is.

    • Please understand that not everyone who comes into a RETAIL store has your level of proficiency with technology. Many customers myself and my team serve on a day to day basis can only string together the letters HDMI in the right order about half the time. “What is HMDI mean?”

      This is a great way to show a customer that it’s much better to purchase a HDMI cable than use the composite out of the box cables.

  • I worked in Dick Smith for a year and we were told to upsell to the more expensive HDMI cables. I always told the customer that no matter what brand and price your HDMI cable is, it will be the exact same picture quality.

      • I actually think he is – management made a bad call here. Eventually people find out the cable they bought was a rip off cause their kid makes fun of them, or their neighbour or whatever. Last ever time they shop at Dick Smith. Thats assuming the up sell even works. I won’t shop at HN because I walk in there and they try to fleece me every time.

  • Due to the relatively low resolution of Full HD as opposed to Bandwidth available to HDMI cables all images regardless of cable will be the same.

    HOWEVER, from personal experience, using a cheapy cable for PS3 guitar hero works fine on my XBR Bravia as long as I switch it to game mode. With the colours turned to vivid however, it provides inconsistent frame lag. Meaning constantly having to adjust the millisecond delay on the tv. When using a monster cable (Which I bought for cost, thankfully I work at an electronics retailer) I can play with all colour settings set to vivid.

    Resolution is the same, but a better cable CAN provide you with better colour depth and consistant frame lag rates.

    FLAME ON.

    • I would suggest you were using the wrong standard of HDMI cable, not neccessarily a better or worse one.
      See here for more info on HDMI cable standards/version –

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HDMI#Versions

      There is still no need to buy Monster as there are many cheap options that cover current standards. Maybe more research is required by yourself.

  • After working at HN for 5 years, i can confirm this is standard practice for all the stores. It was something i never agreed with as the cables cost as little as $5 – $12 and have the same bandwidth as same version 1.4 HDMI cables which sell for $10-$30 in other retailers. The consumer really needs to be informed of the ripoff in all “addon” items not just cables.

  • “the cable in the box” ?
    I have bought 4 hdtv’s in the past 4 years and not one of them had any interconnect cables in the box for any format.

    • This. My TV for my lounge and the last two TV’s my parents purchased had no composite cables included. I didn’t think any did.

      • That’s because they’re in the box of the device you bought to connect to your TV, e.g. Set top box, Blu ray player or PS3.

  • I had the same thing happen at JB, I bought my surround sound system and sent the guy to get me a HDMI cable. He came back over with a $70 one. I told him to jam it and that I could get them for free from my mates at electrical wholesalers. He then proceeded to run off and find a $15 one. Another salesmen poked his head in between all of this and was blown away when I told him that they were all exactly the same.

  • Lol. Love the incorrect grammar on the signs they’re using to advertise their Monster cables.

    SEE WHAT YOUR MISSING!!!

  • Ive had this happen to me by a HN sales assistant first hand a few years ago and i feel horrible and ashamed to this day but i was young and stupid.

    I stupidly brought into getting a Monster HDMI cable when i brought my TV on interest free so i didnt care too much cause i was not laying down the cash initially. After realizing i was ripped off I could not return the cable (not even opened) due to no fault of the cable i was greatly regretting buying a 300 dollar cable!

    I want everyone to do their homework before buying anything and not get sucked into salesman BS in which HN salespeople only know how to do. Don’t suffer my fate! I will never buy from Harvey Norman again.

    Although the cable is still being used 3 years later and is still going strong lol.

  • This is hilarious. Myself and a mate of mine used to work for a particular HN in Perth and were doing this same sort of display, against other brand HDMI cables/component/composite in a side by side comparison as well, 6 YEARS AGO. Bit late on the article mate. We were the highest selling Monster Cable store in Australia for 2 years straight. BAR NONE.

  • This has been going on in Best Buys and Fry’s in the US for ages. The margin for retail TVs is rather low, so they market the hell out of overpriced accessories like this. Same reason game stores make a large % of their profit from DS game cases etc.

  • I saw this at JB Hi-Fi a few years back but it was a slightly different sign, one that looked like Monster themselves created it. I thought to myself that it was a classic fallacy (failure to compare like with like) but knew it probably wasn’t illegal.

  • One of my friends bought a 3d TV from JB Hifi and was told that she needed a $200 cable for the 3d to work. I was shocked when she told me, and got her to take it back.

  • I don’t work for HN or support them or anyone else but we as customers go in to these shops and want everything as cheap as we can get it then go into the store next-door with that price and use that to bargain with, of course they have to find a way of making money out of us they are not there for us but to make money surely everyone knows this. Everyone knows about the Internet so you should be doing your own research on such matters that’s what it’s there for ,why are you in HN asking them about hdmi leads who do you think is going to pay for their advice and time plus it’s not a misleading …comparison anyway. I buy most things on line and it’s always cheaper but I spend my time doing my own research on things I want to purchase

  • But these are the most ultimate cables money can buy!!!
    The comments for these things are definitely worth the read!

    AudioQuest K2 terminated speaker cable – UST plugs 8′ (2.44m) pair
    $8,450.00
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000J36XR2

    Diamond HDMI Digital Audio/Video Cable W/ Ethernet Connection (5M)
    $2,694.75
    http://www.amazon.com/Diamond-Digital-Audio-Ethernet-Connection/dp/B003CT2A6I/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_2

    Denon AKDL1 Dedicated Link Cable
    $9,999.00
    Yes, thats right. $10,000 for a network cable!
    http://www.amazon.com/Denon-AKDL1-Dedicated-Link-Cable/dp/B000I1X6PM/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_1

  • The sign doesn’t say the non monster tv is connected with hdmi, it just says “cable in the box”. So misleading perhaps, but not an outright lie. Clever Harvey Norman…

  • Old Gerry will send his minions after the source of the article, to make sure it doesn’t go mainstream. R.I.P Mark

  • Although I agree that Monster cables are a rip off. I don’t get why people are so pissed off about paying 200%-300% for a HDMI cable? If a staff gives me great customer service in a product, I will buy a HDMI cable at full price to thank him. Retailers work on gross profit and they also try to make commission. If the staff gave me crap service I’d haggle that HDMI cable in for free else I walk out.

    What we need to remember is that profits of an item goes into the service of the sales person and the shop. Would you be pissed off if your local JBHIFI closed down because it made $0 profit off any items? Sure 200%-300% is a huge mark up, but 200% of a $5 HDMI cable?

  • Whilst I do understand that not everyone is going to buy a monster cable, I think that the rant’s here are just that.

    At what point does the guy at harvey’s pull a gun out and demand your money? Are you all f’ing stupid????? Fact is the display just shows the difference between a monster cable and what is provided in the box. Sure they could have done the comparison with any cable.

    I have seen cheaper cables not perform as well as monster cables, I constantly return cheaper cables too. So there is a difference albeit a small one.

    Now get your head out of your arses and get back to reality. The sales guy that is trying to “rip you off” is trying his hardest to earn a living. He is on commission and the fact that the tv market has slumped with prices so low the sales guy is basically on minimum wage. Do you really have to hate on them for trying to earn a dollar?

    I’m pretty much of the attitude now if you’re gonna be a rude arse prick to me, you’re getting it back tenfold. If you don’t want it just say you don’t want it, don’t try and make b”ullshit excuses as to why you don’t want it.

    • Yes, thats right.
      Commission sales people resort to cheating, lying, manipulation, misdirection and flat out slimy tactics to earn a buck.
      They take advantage and make money on other peoples lack of knowledge and understanding.
      Im sure youre happy with yourself screwing people over to make a buck.
      Personally, not the sort of person I would like to know or deal with.

  • I once saw an even shadier demo at JB hifi. It was a single screen with a split image, the left side was the monster cable with the right being the dodgy cable. But get this, it was being played off a DVD encoded like this, through a single crappy composite lead. Wasn’t even a monster cable connected.

  • It’s not as bad as I would have thought as “The cable in the box” would be component or composite, and vs HDMI the HDMI will be better, and they are marketing their expensive cables…
    personally I tend to buy my HDMI cables through http://www.dealextreme.com/ as the price is way better than in store, and there is no quality difference between digital cables (at least not in short runs, long runs – 5+ meters – may be a little lossy). I think the only real BS here is that they sell HDMI cables for the prices they do.

  • Yeah if you look at the sign the composite cable is described as “the cable in the box” vs the “HDMI” cable that monster supply.

    Of course if the cable in the box was a “HDMI” then that would be misleading or worst deceptive.

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