This month’s Pro is Josh Grinis, Media Designer at OnYourMark, LLC.
Josh offers ways to find good deals online.
When it comes to shopping online, there are so many options to choose from it may be difficult to find a good deal. Here are some simple solutions to keep in mind to ensure you aren’t getting ripped off.
First off, be sure that any site you consider ordering from has a secure server using a Secure Socket Layer (SSL). This ensures that any credit card information you submit will not be stolen or given to any other outside party. There should be a verification logo on the site to indicate if it is secure or not. Thawte or VeriSign are common security providers. A reliable company may link to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Reliability Program. As long as you take notice of these items, you shouldn’t be worried about your credit card information being stolen.
Now that you know the website is secure, its time to start looking for deals. When you decide to buy something online, shop around and do your homework. You may be able to get a low price but remember that you may not get exactly what you wanted to order. Just as you can make the mistake of picking up the wrong CD at the store, it’s all too easy to make the same mistake online. I’m sure everyone has heard what I like to call “eBay horrors,” such as someone attempting to sell exhaled air from a celebrity or auctioning off an Xbox360 when in reality it was just the box.
In my experience with eBay, most items found on the site are legitimate and worth your money. Sometimes you’ll come across an item that can be immediately be sold and skip the auction process. Some sellers will set up a high sell price to get people to bid on it, likely making the final winner pay more for it than average retail price. If you did your research on what the item is worth, you can make the decision for yourself if you would rather put in a bid or buy it right away. Sellers with a physical store or location will often set prices a dollar or so lower. You may avoid paying tax, but you often end up paying more for shipping to make up for it.
Stores which specify in selling certain products may offer discounts or free shipping on newly released products. Instead of buying that new movie or video game on Target’s website, go toBestBuy.com or EBGames.com and see if they offer any special deals. Recent movies, CDs and other electronic items may not be discounted, but older products may have been reduced.
Companies may bundle your item in with others for an increased value. Amazon.com will sell two related CDs for a lower price than buying each CD separately. Don’t be afraid to search for used items. Online stores often get used items from their physical stores and will not re-sell them if they are damaged or malfunctioning. Generally these items cost less and are just as good as new items.
Comparison shopping websites allow you to search many online stores at once. Google’s Froogle, Dealtime and NexTag are comparison shopping search engines. When you search for a product, the search engine will pull prices from several stores and allow you to sort based on price or other features.
Sometimes deals can be found using online coupons. Be sure to verify a coupon’s source. Often coupon scams are sent via email chain letters. Forwarding an email chain letter is not going to get you a free pair of GAP jeans! If you print coupons to use at a physical store, be sure they include bar codes. Legitimate online coupons can often come from surveys. Many sites will offer a survey after a purchase with the promise of a rebate or discount in the future. If the offer is presented immediately after your purchase and through well known discount companies like www.Entertainment.com, then you will get that discount you were promised.
It’s easy to find a deal online, although it may not be where you expect. Remember to buy from safe, secure sites. Do your research and compare your product to similar ones or to the same one that other sites are selling. Don’t be turned away by online coupons or discount codes, they can work to your advantage.
My last piece of advice is rather simple. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Check out the product first before diving in head first and buying what you may not need or want. You may not get what you were looking for in the first place.
- How can I use eBay safely? – June 2003 Ask the Pro
- How can I shop online safely? – November 2003 Ask the Pro
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