JB Hi Fi Smartway is a finance option offered by JB Hi Fi in collaboration with Flexirent. It enables consumers to buy electrical and technology products, without an upfront payment, by entering into a rental agreement for anywhere between 12, 24, 36 or 60 months.
It’s like a Harvey Norman interest-free type deal, except no credit card and exclusively for JB Hi Fi.
Now as someone who has used this service first hand, I will use this post to explain how the Smartway agreement works, how to get the best deal when using Smartway and the tips and tricks you need to know (and avoid) to get the best JB Hi-Fi deal.
Before we go on, it’s wise to note that Smartway is a rental service. You do not own the products you ‘rent’. Smartway own the product and they reserve the right to recover the item off you at the end of the rental agreement. Alternatively, you can offer to purchase the item yourself; sales staff at JB Hi Fi told me I could simply ‘offer $1 to purchase’ – however this isn’t always the case and something I will elaborate on shortly.
Step 1: Haggle a JB Hi Fi deal and discount BEFORE you discuss Smartway
I’ve spoken previously about how to get a JB Hi Fi discount, so would suggest reading up on this technique prior to visiting the store.
The abridged summary is that you should visit multiple stores and play them off against one another; get a quote, use it to get a lower quote and so forth. You can even use a store like Bing Lee or The Good Guys who will price match competitor’s prices (if it’s written down on a sales representative’s business card or advertised).
Pro tip for the truly ambitious hagglers; ask for a freebie to close the deal. Buying a computer? Ask for a keyboard or mouse. Buying a camera? Ask for a memory card. You’d be surprised how many items I’ve received using this method.
Once you have the best possible price, tell the JB Hi Fi staff member you wish to finance the purchase using Smartway (avoid discussing this up front, as it can work against your negotiating tactics of acting ready to buy today).
Step 2: Smartway monthly repayment amounts are negotiable
JB Hi Fi have a margin within the Smartway repayments they quote you. This means the repayment amount can be negotiated downwards and the amounts change from store to store, sales rep to sales rep.
Let me tell you a true story…
A few years ago, I was in the market to purchase an Apple MacBook Air. I negotiated a very low price and received a monthly repayment quote to use Smartway (as my cash flow was terrible back then). I opted not to purchase and instead wandered around the shopping centre thinking ‘do I really need this?’.
After an hour of wandering, I stumbled on another JB Hi Fi store and decided I would go in and make the purchase. I told the sales attendant the price I was offered (which he kindly matched) and proceeded to discuss using Smartway. I soon realised the monthly repayment he was quoting me was $29 a month higher than the other store.
Over a period of 36 months, that was $1,044 more expensive, yet the purchase price was the same between stores. The staff member was obviously offering me a less favourable interest rate and backloading his commission (and some!) into the agreement.
I couldn’t be bothered explaining this to him, so instead went back to my original store and gave him the sale (like I should have done in the first place).
What does this teach us? Smartway repayment amounts can vary between stores; don’t be afraid to shop around on repayment amounts or tell the store you intend to get a quote from another JB Hi Fi store to check you are getting the best deal.
Step 3: Pick your Smartway rental length wisely
Smartway offer 12, 24, 36 or 60-month terms. The longer your terms, the smaller your monthly repayment amount will be. However, while the repayment will be smaller – you will end up paying more for your items due to the extended terms.
Opt instead for repayment terms that are somewhere in-between; you want to feel slightly stretched without scrambling for money. This will ensure you lower the amount of interest you pay over the course of the rental agreement.
Step 4: Don’t finance small accessories with a big purchase
Don’t bother financing small items like keyboards, mice, memory cards or similar. You are better off paying for these outright (if they didn’t throw them in for free per the tips above!) to avoid paying interest on items that you can easily afford.
Final tip: Be cautious of the mind games Smartway play when it comes to making a payout offer
When I asked the staff member about what would happen after my three-year lease ended, he stated ‘Simply ring Smartway to end the agreement, they will ask you to make them an offer to purchase the laptop – simply offer them $1 and they will accept”.
36 months to the day later I did just that, I made an offer, only to be told ‘we don’t accept’.
The Smartway representative instead told me that I could do one final monthly repayment of $79 (or thereabouts) to get what is called ‘double time’ – essentially giving me another 12 months of rental for a single repayment.
This would in turn gave me an extra 12 months of rental (including insurance cover for damage) but relied on me ringing them again to cancel the agreement after that. I agreed and verbally confirmed with the Smartway rep that after this I would be able to make an offer of $1 – which they confirmed.
I made a note of the conversation, word for word, including date/time/name of representative and put it in my calendar for 12 months’ time. I rang back and couldn’t believe it when the Smartway representative was apprehensive about my $1 buyout offer. I quickly pulled out my notes and started to voice my concern at this game.
This could be a simple miscommunication or misunderstanding at Smartway, but it felt like a range of mind games that contradicted not only what the JB Hi Fi sales rep told me, but what the Smartway rep had told me. So tread carefully when it comes to ending your agreement.
Renting products from Smartway is a double-edged sword; the downside is that many everyday consumers opt to enter into these types of arrangements for things they truly can’t afford (and don’t need).
A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t pay cash, you are in over your head.
However, sometimes financing items can be a good thing. As I mentioned above, I purchased a laptop using Smartway at a time I otherwise couldn’t afford to. I went on to write and publish over 300 articles on this website using said laptop, which generated me a side income that repaid the laptop many times over.
PS: For those of you wondering, Flexirent is the parent company who runs similar rental arrangements for Harvey Norman, Domayne, My Mac, Joyce Mayne and more, thus if the deals and advertising in-store looks similar – it’s because it is.