Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Confessions of a Cyber-Shopper

Shopping on line today? Join the crowd. And take these tips.

Confessions of a Cyber-Shopper

Shopping on line today? Join the crowd. And take these tips.

According to Shop.org, a branch of the National Retail Federation, about 122 million Americans are making internet site  purchases this Cyber Monday. That’s not much less than the 147 million estimated shoppers who visited conventional (“bricks and mortar”) stores over the Thanksgiving weekend.

 For sure, there are some good deals out there -  from SanDisk 32 GB memory cards for  digital cameras and game systems as cheap as  $17 to a “recommended buy” (by Consumer Reports) Samsung PN51E7000  51-inch 3D plasma TV for $997. The latter deal is still to be found today (through midnight) at numerous sites – from Amazon to the fighting for survival Sears -  which consistently  offered excellent prices for TVs last holiday shopping season.

But take note - you might also be able to score the same good prices today (and"kick the tires") at Best Buy retail locations. The chain's sales clerks have been given the rare authority this season to match verifiable online prices for a number of product categories

With way too much alone time this holiday weekend (don’t ask), Gizmo Guy saw for myself how online prices  dropped, rose, then dropped again  for products I personally relish  – like  the Ooma Telo internet phone system (normally about $149, but found briefly for $99)  and the myCharge Peak 6000 Rechargeable Power Bank – a  high powered and versatile backup battery/charger for mobile phones and tablets  which bounced between $99, $69 and $79.

The savviest  sites now actively track the price that other retailers  are selling an item for “literally moment by moment  and adjust their own asking prices accordingly to maintain a price advantage, even if means they’ll be selling it at a loss. That’s  their doing, not ours,”  insisted a source at  one of the biggest  consumer electronics brands.

Still, when you repeatedly see the same item or brand prominently featured at several locations, there’s reason to  suspect some, um,  "cooperation" (outright price fixing is illegal in the U.S.)  between the maker and the seller – often to the end of  unloading an item  that’s been in the line for a while.

  Last night, I caught  pitch ladies on Home Shopping Network and  HSN.com touting as  “exclusive” a  2011 model Garmin nuvi 50LM 5 inch Widescreen GPS with Lifetime Map Updates for $99.95 (plus $8.95 shipping)  – down from HSN’s usual $149.95 price. Clearly this is a good deal.  Yet  I then found and bought the same  GPS navigator elsewhere on-line  for the exact same price with free shipping.

To get a handle of the Cyber-Monday (and Cyber-week) sales, drop in at cybermonday.com or TheBlackFriday.com.

 Another way to track changing prices is to put an item in your shopping cart at Amazon.com then click “save for later.” The retailer will send a  price change alert, viewable on return to the shopping cart, when the deal moves by as little as a few pennies.


Read Gizmo Guy's roundup on great holiday gizmo gifts.

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