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Save money with "Comparison" shopping sites?

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

I got an email from a reader that asked me what I thought about comparison shopping websites and of course whenever I (or anyone else) can save money, my initial answer was, “I’m all for it!”

Since I really never used a comparison shopping website myself, I needed to look into some before blogging about the subject. After a bit of research my NEW answer is, “I’m for it, but for godsake be careful and pay attention.”

Comparison shopping websites, I experimented MOST with and, as well as these seem to be the most popular with those I have spoken to that comparison shop online often.

Here are a few guidelines I would use when using any of these types of portal shopping sites:

1. Take the time out to shop and read descriptions.

Getting a bargain has a price to it and that is TIME. Don’t be in a rush, because it is likely you will be disappointed. How much money are you saving if you have to send the item back?

2. KNOW EXACTLY what you are “searching” for, aka the product you want to BUY.

Have all your specifics in hand, size, color, specifications whatever you can because any Portal shopping site, (this includes eBay) will serve you up whatever you ask for and MORE! If you choose to sort from lowest price to highest price, don’t get too excited! I was looking for a flat screen computer monitor and was extremely excited with one I saw for $59.95, the manufacturer was the right one and I was thrilled only to read on to see it was a glare screen for a flat screen monitor!

3. Understand WHO is actually SELLING the product. And WHO you are paying.

On some portal sites you jump right off that site and onto the sellers site and it is obvious. Some not so much! When you “check out” your confirmation as well as the confirmation on your credit card should read consistently with the online store you purchased it from. Unless you actually “CHECK OUT” on the portal site, it wont be the name of the portal site from where you started in the first place.

So keep track of where you are and who you are buying from – print the confirmation receipt for sure!

4. If you want FIRST quality, make sure it IS FIRST quality.

This goes back to the “make sure you have enough time to bargain shop.” Lots of bargains are easy to find if there is a “slight imperfection” and those are often difficult to “see” what that means through your computer screen.

5. User Comments are helpful. doesn’t have a feedback mechanism for user comments or experiences where does. This objective feedback helps clarify the product as well as the experience of using the vendor.

I hope this helps and thanks for the question – again I don’t say “don’t do it.” I just say “do your homework” and you can save lots of money!