By Steve Bass | Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 9:02 am
“You’re a bargain hunter,” one of my more polite friends says. My wife’s more to the point: She calls me a cheapskate. I like being frugal, but what do I know? Call me whatever you want (you will anyway), I don’t like paying retail and I’m always looking for a deal, especially when shopping online.
The Internet gives me the chance to comparison shop, see how shipping figures into the price, look over specifications, and feel confident I’ve found the best buy. Here are some of the sites I use.
* You can pick up a decent amount of background info on an assortment of activities and projects at WhatItCosts. Some of it’s fluffy — what it costs to become a stuntman or to buy a Diane Von Furstenberg dress. Other topics are worth a look: buying a hearing aid or contact lenses, hiring a landscape architect, or learning how to fly fish. [Thanks, Mike.]
* The showstopper when I’m shopping online is the cost of shipping. I’ll find something that looks like a bargain, say, a $3 chew bone for Popcorn, TechBite’s HR specialist. When I get to the checkout page, I discover shipping’s $11. I want to smack the site’s owner on the back of the head. That’s why I’ve added FreeShipping to my shopping arsenal. Sure, not everything’s a good match and I often get the same info if I go directly to the site. Yet I got lucky recently when I spotted dog.com’s $5 flat-rate shipping and ended up placing a $25 order. (And yes, prices were actually lower than competitors on the Water Hole water dish I was looking for.)
* I discovered AntiRebate a couple of months ago and now I get its daily RSS feed. AntiRebate finds bargains — coupons, discounts, and deals — that don’t require a rebate. For instance, I spotted a 2GB microSD card for $5, including shipping, and last year I picked up a $10 Office Max gift card for filling out a short, one-minute survey for DHL. The site has mostly high-tech offers, yet I’ve seen occasional glassware, cookware, and furniture deals.
* I hate it when I get to the end of the checkout process and I see an annoying “Enter your Coupon Code” field. So I kill 40 minutes Googling around, searching for a code, one that sometimes doesn’t exist. (Yeah, sure, like you don’t do it? Right.) Try CurrentCodes, a handy spot for looking up, well, the current codes for tons of online stores. Like these other sites, sometimes it’s a terrific resource, other times, as Jon Stewart says, not so much.
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