With the holiday shopping season in full gear I thought I’d make a list of internet shopping tips for this installment of Macspiration. If you are like me, you’ll be doing a lot of gift shopping on the internet and avoiding those lines at the stores.
1. Use a price comparison site. The internet is huge and there are tons of internet stores. I use www.pricegrabber.com and www.resellerratings.com to compare prices on items I am looking for. The nice thing about these sites is that they have customer ratings/reviews for the stores themselves. This is especially useful if you find a great price at a store and you have never heard of it before. Personally, if I’ve never heard of it before, and it has poor ratings or no rating at one of these sites, I won’t make a purchase. It is worth a few dollars more to buy an item from a site I trust.
Also, keep in mind that if you buy a product directly from the manufacturer it will probably be more expensive. In most cases you would be paying full retail, and not getting the discount that you would find at an online vendor (or in person).
1.5 Check out the vendor. I once heard that you should never buy anything from a website that does not list a phone number and mailing address for contacting them. I have made this my #1 rule of thumb for internet shopping. If there is an email address, you might want to email a question to the store and see how fast they respond. I recently emailed a question to a vendor about a digital camera. I still haven’t gotten a response after three days. That crosses them off my list.
2. Check return policies. This is a biggie. Many internet retailers have short return policies. The comparison sites I mentioned above will also have comments on returning items. In my opinion, Amazon.com has one of the best return policies, and they are the easiest to return an item to. I’ve been known to spend a little more money at Amazon.com just for their return policy.
3. Don’t forget shipping. You might find an amazing deal for an item, but when you check out you find out that the shipping price is insane. This is especially true for a lot of eBay auctions. I have seen numerous items on eBay selling dirt cheap, but the shipping is ridiculous ($20 for a CD?). Remember, shipping prices are not refunded (in most cases).
4. Be careful on eBay (or any auction site). If you are buying from eBay check the seller’s rating, and their return policy. Remember, many items, especially used items, might be a great deal, but you give up a lot. That used iBook for under $500 probably won’t have a warranty. For that much money, I’d want a warranty.
5. Check the shipping method. When you choose your shipping method you want to find out how it is going to be shipped. Is it shipped through a method you can track like UPS or FEDEX? Will the delivery require a signature? I ship most items I order to the place I work. Doing this accomplishes a few things: 1. There is always someone there to sign for the package. 2. I know the package won’t be left out in the rain/snow. 3. I know the package won’t be left outside my house for all the world to see and take.
6. If you are in the education field look for discounts. There are great discounts on software and hardware. Two vendors I have used are www.academicsuperstore.com and ccvsodtware.com. Both of these will require proof that you are a student or educator. Of course, Apple has an online education store also.
7. Here’s a list of sites I trust, and have used, for online shopping:
Apple.com (of course)
Buydig.com (great prices on digital cameras and more)
JnR.com (for electronics)
Other World Computing (macsales.com)
ZipZoomFly.com (computer hardware)
AmericanFrame.com (if you need custom picture frames check this place out)
There’s my tips and suggestions for a great online shopping experience. Leave yours below.