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Savvy Shopping Tips From Online Shoppers

Contributed by mm | November 29, 2004 12:36 PM PST

Think yourself as a veteran online shopper? Still, it does not hurt to refresh your knowledge from this long no-frills list of online shopping tips. The few bucks saved will magnify your holiday happiness.

Below are my favorites:

Shop Safely

- Shop only at reputable sites. If an online merchant is new to you, research the company. Beware of merchants with bad reviews.
- Make sure you only order on a secure server.

Surf Around For The Best Price

- Use a comparison Web site, such as Bizrate.com, Shopzilla.com, Froogle.com or PriceGrabber.com, to compare prices on similar products from thousands of merchants. These Web sites also offer customer reviews and merchant ratings.
- You can also visit Web sites such as 247malls.com and MonkeyBargains.com that offer coupons and coupon codes toward purchases and shipping costs for hundreds of merchants. These sites allow you to search for coupons by store or category.
- Take advantage of free-membership Web sites, such as ebates.com, netflips.com, butterflymall.com and mypoints.com that offer cash back for making purchases -- that you were already planning to buy -- with their listed merchants. Plus, earn points that you can redeem for rewards or gift certificates on future purchases. The more you shop online, the more you earn.
- Some stores, especially large national chains, allow you to purchase your item online and pick it up at the store -- often resulting in free shipping on a low-priced sale item found only online.

Special Offers

- Sometimes buying an item online is cheaper than going to the brick store since many sites don't charge sales tax and offer free shipping.
- For people who enjoy receiving books or music, consider buying them through the reseller option on Amazon.com. You're able to buy new and nearly new books and CDs for significantly less than the "new" price from Amazon.

When to Shop

- Sometimes it pays to put items in your basket or shopping cart, but not purchase the items right away. Then when you come back, say, the next day, the site may offer you a discount code.
- When eBay-ing, use Auctionstealer rather than starting a bidding war. Your item is being watched and you're notified if your bid is lower than the current price. The service will bid for you seconds before the end of the auction.

Shipping

- Print out and save records of all your online orders. Keep the product description, price, online receipt, order number and customer service number. Save any e-mails the company sends you for purchase verification.
- Be wary of the shipping charges; that is where many merchants make extra dollars and you lose money.

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