Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Shopping: Finding Bargins Technology Online

Are you looking for ways to find a good deal online on your electronics? Several years ago when you used the Internet it was easier to find good bargains, but those days seem to be gone. Now you have to hunt for these deals, and use a few tricks to save money.

For example, there was a PDA that I wanted to buy from Dell, but before I bought it I spent a few minutes looking for a coupon code. I was able to find one, and saved a nice chunk of change on the purchase. I have to admit this is the exception to the rule, and not the rule itself.

Below are some suggestions and tips for finding the best deals and to avoid getting ripped off.
  1. Rule #1, burn it into your mind: "If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is..."
  2. Shop from sites that you trust, or ones that you know friends or family use. There are a lot of fraudulent retailers out there. If in doubt Google the site's web address to see what others might have said about it. Other things to look for:
    • Make sure you can find the company's contact information (physical street address, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses) just in case you have problems with your purchase.
    • Read the web site's return policy and make a sure that you understand it. There are generally time limits, required documentation, and other restrictions. Some sites charge a restocking fee for returned items.
  3. Generally the safest way to purchase items online is using a credit card, it offers the best protections against fraudulent retailers. Avoid using debit (or ATM) cards they don't offer the same protections.
  4. When looking for the best deals, make sure to compare the cost + taxes + shipping, and not just the price of the item to find the best bargains. Some stores have really good prices but ridiculously high shipping and handling fees.
  5. Print your receipts, and keep copies of them. Personally I store electronic copies of them using Microsoft XPS format (similar to a PDF document). This feature is built into Vista, all you have to do is select the 'Microsoft XPS Document Writer' from the printer dialog.
Product Reviews
Use these sites to find product reviews of equipment you want before you buy it.
Online Retailer
The sites below are ones that I have used or ones that I know that others have used to get good deals in the past.
Overstock/Refurbished Computers
You have to shop carefully at these sites, my suggestion is only buy brands that you trust.
Product Auction
eBay is the only auction site that I use. Although you have to be extremely careful of what you're buying and who you're buying it from. Make sure that you carefully read the description of the item you're bidding. Read the sellers rating and other feedback, if there is a lot of complaints then buy stuff an your own risk. Also watch for exorbitant shipping costs.
Price Comparison Sites
These sites can help you find good deals on computer equipment. Make sure to check the reseller ratings before purchasing from retailers that you don't know about.
  • (If you have some price comparison sites that you would like me to add, please put them in the comments area.)
Rebate/Coupon Site
If you buy things on major sites like Dell, Circuit City, Best Buy, etc. check out these sites to find bargains and coupon codes.
Government Auctions
The site below offers government surplus, seized and forfeited property.

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