Day #148: Cyber Monday How-Tos

In case you’ve been under a rock, the big news today is that this is the day that you are supposed to be able to get the best shopping deals on the Internet. Just how good are the deals? I’m not sure, but for savvy shoppers, you just might be able to save some cash.

Some Deals to Check Out
I did a little investigating and found three sites that looked interesting:
The folks at Walmart are the masters of squeezing their suppliers so that they can lower their prices to jaw-dropping levels. In fact, they have launched “CyberWeek” which continues through this Friday. The best deals appear to be in electronics. You can get televisions, cameras, video games and MP3 players at amazingly low prices. Watch out for the brands though. Walmart tends not to sell name-brand televisions, so you’ll have to check out the specifications and customer ratings to get an indication of quality. In the other electronics areas, you’ll find all of the big brands at prices that you likely won’t find elsewhere this week. What’s even better is that they are offering free shipping either to your neighborhood store or your home on many items.
Today, Amazon has what are called “Lightning Deals”. Every 15-20 minutes, they roll out a new set of deals. The items are in limited supply, so you have to act quickly. It’s quite brilliant from a marketing standpoint. There is a timer that counts down the time until the deal expires which gives you a sense of urgency and the deals refresh throughout the day which entices you to keep checking – and spending. You can also scroll through the upcoming deal ‘teasers’ so that you know when to check back for the deals that interest you most. There appears to be a lot of good stuff out there in all categories, so you may want to check this one out.
This website is a terrific aggregator of the ‘best of the rest’. Be careful, though! Part of the site appears to be paid advertisements from retailers and another part appears to be editor’s picks. You want to look at the top picks because that means some ‘impartial’ person has actually sifted through the deals to present the ones that are the best as opposed to a retailer simply paying top dollar to get as high on the page as possible. Either way, this is a nice way to see all of the most popular deals in one spot to save you a little Web surfing time.

As always, Internet predators are lurking around every corner and Cyber Monday is no different. There are a number of scam artists out there today with bogus deals and lookalike sites. Make sure that you follow all of the usual precautions. Only give your credit card information on secured sites. You should see “https” at the beginning of the web address when you get to the checkout page and there should be an image of a lock to the right of the web address box. If you don’t see at least one of these items, DO NOT enter your credit card number on the site. Look for clues that the website is legitimate (or illegitimate). If you see misspelled words, that is a dead giveaway. Leave the site immediately! If there is no contact or customer service information, you may be on a phony site. On a day like today, there are lots of ‘bad guys’ out there trying to make a quick buck from all of the extra traffic. Be aware of this and stick with the well-known retailers. Most importantly, though, stick to your budget. Even the ‘good guys’ will pull out all the stops today to get you to give them your hard-earned cash. If you don’t need it or can’t afford it, don’t buy it – no matter how good the deal appears to be. A good deal isn’t really that good if you can’t afford it, now is it?

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