Is it a waste of money to buy branded tech accessories over cheaper third-party ones? Yes, probably. There are many lesser-known versions that do just as good a job for half the price.
When you buy a new TV or laptop on the high street, you’ll probably find the staff trying to sell you umpteen accessories for your lovely shiny new gadget. More often than not, these come at a premium – an £85 HDMI cable for example, or security software for an extra £60. It all adds up.
So why shouldn’t you buy the pricey HDMI cable, or that all important paid-for security software? The answer is; you’re probably throwing your money away.
Cheap vs pricey branded cables
Apple, in particular, is known for commanding a high price for its extras. If you own an iPad, iPhone or iPod, then the dedicated USB cable is an essential bit of kit. But if the one you get in the box is lost or damaged, an official replacement will cost you £15. Our scientists looked at lots of third-party USB leads for Apple products, some costing just £2, and though they were of a cheaper build quality, it didn’t affect their function in any way.
We’ve also found that a £10 HDMI cable gives the same picture and sound quality as one of those Monster cables that costs eight times as much. Don’t be fooled by the striking claims on the packaging of the expensive version, the end result will be the same – crystal clear sound and picture. With the money saved from buying a £9.97 Tesco cable instead, you could get yourself a Blu-ray player. Much more entertaining than a pricey cable.
What about that extra security software? Well, naturally you want to make sure you’re safe online, but there are plenty of great free alternatives to choose from, like Microsoft Security Essentials, instead of pricey paid-for anti-virus. Again, the money saved could buy you a Best Buy printer.
Top tips to save dosh on tech accessories
The key is to do your research before you buy. Of course, here at Which? we do most of this for you, but here are some extra tips for saving money on tech accessories:
- Don’t be tempted to buy accessories at the same time as you’re buying your new gadget – the store may try to upsell you expensive versions.
- Prices are likely to be cheaper from online retailers. If you can wait a few days for your accessory, you’ll save money buying online.
- It doesn’t hurt to ask the retailer to throw in the extras, like a lead, battery or case. Independent retailers have a lot more flexibility to haggle than chain stores.
- Oh, and don’t feel you need to buy branded. If you buy a third-party accessory that claims to be compatible with your product, but turns out not to be, you’re within your rights to ask the seller for your money back or a replacement.
- You also have rights if an accessory damages your product, which you can read about in our guide to dealing with faulty goods.
Have you got any tips for saving money on accessories? Maybe you’ve got a great bargain by shopping around for ink cartridges, or persuaded a store to chuck in a free pair of 3D glasses?