Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

It is OFFICIAL! “Consumer Reports” and I are breaking up!

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

For years I have or someone close to me has had a subscription to Consumer Reports magazine.  You are making an important purchase and you look up with they think about it.  AND they dont accept advertisements so you feel a certain comfort level in what they report.  I love the format, I love the ease in figuring out what the selling features are with the grid – what I don’t like is the information on the last 3 products I bought using their recommendations.

The first product was a digital camera and it turned out to be a disaster – I ignored my own experience to buy one they reported as “Best Value.” Well Best Value is sitting on a shelf broken and I am too frustrated with the company to send it back.

The next one is a vacuum from Sears – Kenmore.  I absolutely hate it and it wasnt cheap.  Today I was ready to throw it into the river.  If I spent as much time actually vacuuming as I did trying to fix the one I have (that is a year old and I have a housekeeper that hates it so much she brings her own) I would have the cleanest house in the world. I was so frustrated I posted something on Facebook and sure enough I learned another friend was unhappy with this thing, while 2 others told me DYSON was the one I should get!

The other one is a front loader washer.  It has been fixed twice and there are 2 people in my house, no kids.  It doesnt get much of a work out, but it cannot take whatever 2 people can give it.

So now what will I do? First, I will buy nothing ever again from Sears and I won’t ever bother with “Consumer Reports.” I don’t think they are bad people, I just think they are not like me and I don’t need to pay a subscription to somebody that gives me bad information.

And neither do you have to.  User generated reviews are changing how people get information and make decisions.  “Consumer Reports” has an online website where members (you pay) sign up to get information.  I am not doing that, when Amazon has reviews that website companies like consumersearch.com link to for people’s opinions.  YOUR experiences, your opinions, free of charge.

There is a great user generation travel tool called tripadvisor.com that allows the traveling public to provide their experiences easily and for free.  For those of us that use it, we need to also tell the good news when it happens, because oftentimes it is just people frustrated and angry that bother to participate and that is only half of the story.  So if you decide to use these sites, I suggest you put in your two cents worth. Tell the people and products that are important to you that you like them!  It only takes a minute.  Then the time YOU want information from someone you will get it.  Keep in mind information isn’t always accurate, so poke around and check it further before you make a decision!

A not-so fancy site is consumerreview.com and it takes tons of clicks and unlike consumersearch.com the content seems to be organic, meaning a person has to go to that site that has purchased something from somewhere else and tell it.  With a site using an Amazon feed – the people are there anyway and Amazon prompts you for your reviews on products that they sell.

I suggest as this buying season is upon us, you participate in the review process, it is painless and helpful to those of us that really want information.

Happy Holidays and use the internet as the convenience and time saving tool that it is!

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 pricegrabber.com and google.com/products, 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.

Pricegrabber.com doesn’t have a feedback mechanism for user comments or experiences where google.com/products 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!