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By Brad Tuttle
Updated: February 3, 2020 1:45 PM ET | Originally published: January 23, 2020
TVs displayed at the TCL booth at CES 2020 technology conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 7, 2020.
David Becker—Getty Images

If you’ve ever gone shopping for TV deals, you’ve probably come across TCL, a brand known for smart Roku TVs sold at surprisingly low prices.

At the height of the most recent Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day sales, 32-inch TCL Roku smart TV deals were available for just under $100. If a 32-inch TV seems too puny to you, TCL has also had 40-inch smart TVs on sale for $180 and 55-inch smart TV deals available for $280.

In fact, many of these TCL TVs are on sale right now for these exact same prices, and apparently they’re selling like hotcakes — perhaps because of all the shoppers looking for TV deals to get ready for the Super Bowl. We just browsed the list of best-selling TVs at Amazon, and 11 out of the top 25 are TCL smart TVs.

The overall best-selling TV at the moment is the TCL 40-inch 1080p Smart LED Roku TV. Amazon says this model has a list price of $299.99, but it’s on sale right now for $179.99. It has a 4.5-star rating based on 6,800 reviews.

Courtesy of Amazon

Now, $180 for a 40-inch smart TV is undeniably a pretty good deal. But is this 40-inch smart TV really being offered at $120 off — a 40% discount — like Amazon indicates? That’s debatable, but we would say no, not really. According to research at CamelCamelCamel, which tracks Amazon pricing history, Amazon has never charged more than $220 for this model, and it routinely sells this TCL TV for $200 or $180. For very brief periods this past November, this 40-inch smart TV was even on sale for $169.99.

What’s more, right now Target and Best Buy also have the same TCL smart TV model on sale for $179.99, though their “list” or “regular” prices are far lower than Amazon. Target says this TV normally sells for $259.99, so the $179.99 sale represents an $80 savings or 31% off. Best Buy says this very same 40-inch TCL smart TV was available for $199.99 before this week’s promotion knocked it down to $179.99. That would mean the TV is only $20 off, or a 10% discount.

What gives? As we’ve pointed out before, Amazon is notorious for employing inflated and misleading “list prices,” which give the false impression that the deals at hand are bigger and better than they truly are. Amazon is hardly the only retailer that uses this strategy, which is known among marketing pros as “price anchoring” and has been around for years. To avoid being duped by inflated list prices, it’s best to shop around and do a little research on an item’s pricing history before purchasing.

Here are the other TCL smart TVs ranked among the top 25 bestsellers at Amazon lately. Bear in mind that these prices are subject to change, and that the list prices mentioned by Amazon might be heavily inflated to make the sales price seems like an extra good deal. Some of these TCL TVs are 2019 models, though a few are from 2018. Also, take note that if you prefer shopping somewhere other than Amazon, you can typically find matching prices and sometimes even cheaper TV deals at Best Buy, Walmart, and Target, among other electronics retailers.

TCL 55-Inch 4K Smart Roku TV: $279.99 (list price $599.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 32-Inch 1080p Smart Roku TV: $149.99 (same list price)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 32-Inch 720p Smart Roku TV: $127.88 (list price $199.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 50-Inch 4K Smart Roku TV: $259.99 (list price $479.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 43-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart Roku TV: $229.99 (list price $329.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 49-Inch 1080p Smart Roku TV: $249.99 (list price $645.80)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 65-Inch Class 5-Series 4K UHD Dolby Vision HDR Smart Roku TV: $500.89 (list price $1,199.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 65-Inch Class 6-Series 4K UHD QLED Dolby Vision HDR Roku Smart TV: $699.99 (list price $1,099.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 55-Inch Class 5-Series 4K UHD Dolby Vision HDR Smart Roku TV: $329.99 (list price $699.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

TCL 43-Inch Class 5-Series 4K UHD Dolby Vision HDR Roku Smart TV: $259.99 (list price $499.99)

Courtesy of Amazon

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