Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=36381
Story Retrieval Date: 12/9/2013 5:30:19 PM CST
Scoring a killer deal online can be as easy as comparing prices, but with so many Web sites to choose from, how do you make sure you’re really getting the best deal on that 50-pack of blank DVDs? Based on my personal experience, check out these tips for buying electronics online…
1. Poke around the Internet and save.
As Elmer Fudd would say, “Shhhh. Be vewy vewy quiet…I'm hunting gadgets.” The wonderful world of online bargain hunting often provides ways to beat the best listed prices. I use Amazon.com as my cost barometer since its prices are typically competitive. Among my favorite sites to hunt for bargains, BensBargains.net posts the hottest offers each day, FatWallet.com hosts deal discussion forums, and FlamingoWorld.com has a searchable coupon database. Bargain hunters like me browse these sites everyday to check for deals that are just too good to resist.
Many of these Web sites started in the early 2000s, when e-commerce was just getting big. Ben Chui, president of BensBargains.net, started his site to capitalize on merchants who were scrambling to impress investors with online sales figures. Today, BensBargains has a reputation for cluing buyers into “unbelievable offers.”
“Merchants go out of their way to give us exclusive offers and tell us in advance of coupons,” Chui says. “We work with merchants to find a good price point for their profits.”
2. Be creative
Think about combining offers to get what you want. I recently had my heart set on the new Super Paper Mario game, but I didn’t want to pay $49.99 to get it. FatWallet.com alerted me to a promotion where I could exchange any two used Nintendo Wii games for one new one. I didn’t have any used games that I wanted to trade, so what did I do?
Well, luckily for me, I live by a GameStop that is directly across the street from a Best Buy. My bargain-hunting neurosis kept me informed of Best Buy coupons for $5 off any Wii game. The day Paper Mario was released, I printed out a couple of those coupons, marched down to Best Buy, bought two copies of the terribly-overstocked Over the Hedge Wii game for $14.99 each (after discount), and skipped across the street to GameStop. Voila! For less than $30, I “bought” my brand new, coveted Wii game. Maybe all that maneuvering is not worth the $20 savings. But for me, it’s almost always worth it to feel like I’ve outwitted corporate America.
3. Gamble on the rebate game
Many of the hottest deals online are contingent on mail-in rebates, which require the laborious process of filling out paperwork and sending it to a rebate center. Many buyers stray from these offers, mainly because they don’t expect their rebate to ever be fulfilled. Web sites like RebateRoullete.com, however, allow you to “know your odds” of actually receiving a rebate check in the mail. Just last month, I ordered a horribly-juvenile, electric-blue Superman keyboard and optical mouse, free after rebate at NewEgg.com. I’m crossing my fingers that the rebate will be honored, given NewEgg’s high rating on ResellerRatings.com. If New Egg doesn’t send my check, I still spent less than $30 on my matching, super-cool Superman hardware!
4. Older isn’t necessarily worse
Many electronics are considered “older models” after just a few months in stores, but these products can have better reviews and almost always have cheaper prices. Such was the case with the Canon Powershot SD600 digital camera, which I saw listed on BensBargains and later bought from Dell.com. Canon had come out with four newer Powershot models at the time of my purchase, but the SD600 received superior reviews on Cnet.com and Dell was offering a significant discount on the camera. I hopped over to eBay.com and spent 99 cents on a coupon for an additional $35 off, and purchased my camera for substantially less than Amazon’s asking price.
“We get exclusive offers through Dell that you won’t find through other channels,” Chui said. “Dell has some pretty amazing deals on digital cameras, consumer electronics, computers. We tend to be right on the pulse with those things.”
5. Maximize your upside
Try parlaying several deals to get the most out of your purchase. Some retailers such as Dell and Staples allow coupon stacking, which could land you free shipping, cash rebates, and free goodies all in one purchase. Also, see if your seller processes transactions through Google Checkout or Paypal, because both companies frequently offer cash back for using their service. Lastly, look to earn airline miles with any purchase. Northwest Airlines’ WorldPerks Shopping Mall, for example, gives buyers multiple miles for every dollar spent at stores like Sharper Image and Tiger Direct. It can be dizzying to stay on top of every perk opportunity, but they add up.