How to find the best bargains online
Get shop-savvy with these top tips for getting the best value online.
- Before you do anything, do your research. If you feel you need to see and touch a specific product before you buy it, go and find it in a store. Choose exactly what you want and then shop around for the best deal online.
- If you prefer to do your research on the net, search Google for consumer reports and product reviews to find a product that you know others are happy with (Google Product Search is useful) – comparison sites such as Amazon often include a consumer rating. www.ciao.co.uk is an excellent option too, as it doesn’t actually sell anything itself – it’s a reader review site, about everything from cameras to cars, as well as links to websites that sell the products. There, you can immediately compare how much the product will cost at a range of online sellers. A great site for fashion and beauty products is www.reviewcentre.com.
- Once you know what you want, shop around. Being able to hunt around for the best bargain is half the joy of online shopping. Make use of sites such as eBay and Amazon, as they do all the comparison work for you.
- On price comparison sites, always sort by price rather than “most popular,” which can be bought out by sellers. In other words, the results that come out on top are not necessarily the best, but simply the ones who have paid the most to come up first. When buying items such as books, shoes and DVDs always check the postage costs involved and calculate this into the total price.
- Search around for sites that offer free delivery, or if this isn’t available, you may get free delivery if you buy in bulk.
- Before you buy, always check that the seller is reputable. Sites such as Amazon are incredibly useful for this as they offer buyers’ feedback so you know the seller’s track record and what type of service they are likely to deliver. If that option is not available and you’re concerned, try www.resellerratings.com – it offers reviews of online stores.
- Before you buy the product, do a search for specials by typing in the product’s name + “specials” or “coupons” – www.couponmountain.co.uk is great for this. You may get free delivery, an upgrade or a free gift.
- Always check the seller’s returns policy so you know what the protocol will be if you are not happy with the product when it arrives.
- Beware of unsafe sites. The term “https” should always precede any website address where you enter personal information or pay for anything online. The “s” stands for secure. If you don’t see “https,” you’re not in a secure web session, and you should not enter data.
- Sign up, whenever you are given the option, to Verified by Visa (www.visaeurope.com/verified) or MasterCard SecureCode (www.mastercard.co.uk/securecode).
- Always print out your order once it has been processed – you may need it as proof of payment at a later date.
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