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The Benjamins, while prevalent in nature, are exceedingly rare in this environment. Help me save them!
November 15, 2007 7:59 AM   Subscribe

How do you bargain shop?

Say you're in the market for something, in my case a D40X, maybe an xbox 360, and maybe a big TV, whatever you're looking for. I usually start at ebay, then check amazon and buy.com, then look at retailmenot.com, spoofee.com, and dealighted.com looking for deals. I sometimes use Froogle as well to check what I think is a good price, but it can be finicky. Then I'll pick whatever looks best, has best ratings, and is cheapest.

Basically, I'm looking for people to tell me what they do when shopping online to ensure that they get the best bang for their buck. Specifically right now I'm looking for a D40X, but I'm not married to any lens packages or anything.

Help me save the dollars!
posted by TomMelee to Shopping (19 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
I pretty much do the same thing as you but then I also call brick-and-mortar stores to see if anyone will price match online deals. Some do, some don't.
posted by cooker girl at 8:05 AM on November 15, 2007


If you're uk based, http://hotukdeals.com is the place to keep an eye on.

It's more wait for a good deal to find you, but for common items like consoles a quick search can usually find something thats fresh enough to be useful still.
posted by paulfreeman at 8:13 AM on November 15, 2007


Ditto to you both. Don't rule out Craigslist; I've gotten many a deal from that site. You didn't mention books, but abebooks.com is the only place I buy books. Not only incredibly cheap, but it's mostly comprised of book sellers. They are very accurate in giving a book's condition. And have yet to see one who doesn't ship media mail (another huge savings...).
posted by JABof72 at 8:13 AM on November 15, 2007


I use techbargains.com and slickdeals.net They track rebates, coupons, price drops, etc. For example, I found out to wait a little while to get the Xbox360 because it would start coming in the "Holiday bundle" soon, i.e. with Forza and Marvel Alliance.
posted by poppo at 8:16 AM on November 15, 2007


You're already touching most of the right bases. The process won't be exactly the same depending on what you're after. In some purchases, after-sales support is more important.

Also, don't kill yourself trying to save the last 2% of a $500 item, life's too short. A lemon car or a bad house decision will wipe out a lifetime of bargain-hunting savings, so put your effort most into the big $$$ items.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:29 AM on November 15, 2007


Thanks so far, keep ideas coming. I'm US based, but I'm sure UK'ers will appreciate that link paulfreeman. I check craigslist religously every day, but I live in a small town that gets about 10 postings to the entire "for sale" section per day, and at least 3-5 of those are low-price-late-model-car scams.

Dealighted actually aggregates fatwallet and slickdeals and a couple other sites, but I occasionally bop over there too.

I'm not just looking for deal sites, I'm looking for actual merchants, or really any other fantastic ideas. Is there a great place besides froogle to check a vast array of sources for the best price?
posted by TomMelee at 8:42 AM on November 15, 2007


Not much to add, except googling cheap [item] or [item] low price or [item] best deal or whatever has also found some great results for me in the past.

low-price-late-model-car scams

Scams, you say? Where I'm from we call that divorce.
posted by goo at 8:58 AM on November 15, 2007


bargainhunters.com, pricegrabber.com botheaggregate prices and consumer reviews of the stores. Caveat emptor; A lot of camera deals are total scams. By scam I mean that you will find an unbelievable price, in stock, and you place an order...a day or so later you receive a phone call confirming the order and offering you overpriced accessories or services. When you say no thanks, just send the camera, it is all of a sudden out of stock, or only available in a more expensive kit. YMMV, but these tend to be 'stores' located in Brooklyn.
posted by Gungho at 8:59 AM on November 15, 2007


Subscribe to the 'special offers' feed of the cheap suppliers as well. You'll be notified of good deals as they're offered.
posted by goo at 9:17 AM on November 15, 2007


Wireddeals.com is an aggregator for deals posted on fatwallet and slickdeals (arguably the two best deal sites). Make checking that page a two-or-three times daily habit, and you'll probably eventually find a good deal on what you're looking for -- for the most part, it will already be vetted by the members of those two forums, so all you have to do is buy (often quickly -- in the case of really good deals).

Here's a list of recent D40 deals that have come up.

i believe wireddeals is run by a metafilter member but i am not sure how active he is.
posted by fishfucker at 9:21 AM on November 15, 2007


i usually lurk around the fatwallet.com forums.
posted by ncc1701d at 9:26 AM on November 15, 2007


Regarding the D40X, and digital cameras in general: don't fall into twin pitfalls of either the numerous "lowest on price search engine" scam sites or crappy lens bundle warehouse "deals" (i.e. Costco etc). The former is a great way to either lose your money outright or have it returned after many hours of phone calls filled with mysterious sudden backorders or missing accessories; the latter leaves you holding crappy lenses you'll wind up eBaying at a loss because of the massive flood of them on the resale market.

Digital cameras depreciate rapidly and thus have very fast turnovers; thus, dealers don't want to hold on to too much stock for months on end and they're always priced to move. That's why you shouldn't wait for "deals" on digital cameras that won't materialize, since prices drop naturally over time anyway. Find a reputable discount dealer and buy at whatever price they've got listed, and start enjoying the camera already. I personally use BuyDig.com; they have the D40X listed for $549 with free shipping, no tax, and a free (crappy no doubt) 2GB SD card. Waiting for what may seem like a better deal really just means waiting for natural price drops over time. It's extremely hard to find legitimate deals for digital cameras as they're increasingly becoming commodity items sold for similar prices everywhere. You're not waiting for a better deal so much as wasting lots of your time and possibly playing Russian roulette with your money.

Bottom line is, don't look for the lowest price deal on a digital camera -- look for a low "within the pack" price AND free shipping AND no taxes AND from a reputable company with an actual return policy. This is what will save you both money and time in the long run when it comes to buying digital cameras.

Two caveats:

1) Certain manufacturers (like Canon) have regular seasonal rebates, but they're usually on lenses and not on the cameras themselves. Research your camera and your camera manufacturer -- for instance, Pentax's year-end rebates include $100 off all their DSLRs right now (rebate form) but Canon's fall rebates are lenses/flashes only. The D40X is selling too strongly for rebates.
2) On big ticket items (like the Canon 5D), it may be worthwhile to wait for a Dell stacked coupon deal. This invariably means waiting 1-3 months for actual shipment though, which combined with the normal rate of price drops means that it only winds up being cost effective on $1k+ items.

In any case, buy your camera already and start shooting!
posted by DaShiv at 9:44 AM on November 15, 2007


Deals On the Web is just one of the many e-mail notifications I subscribe to. Perhaps set up a 'throw-away' account for all your subscriptions.

Also be diligent about rebates, and sending in those forms! Check for "coupon codes" and other types of discounts like this.

Lastly, do homework on any vendors/web stores with whom you've not done business before but seem to have good prices. By spending a bit of time researching, you avoid a lot of headache and heartache. Be sure to read users comments/reviews about these stores, too. They give good insight into any history of a retailer being superb or jerks.
posted by kuppajava at 10:00 AM on November 15, 2007


boddit.com aggregates the other deal sites.
posted by k8t at 10:07 AM on November 15, 2007


I agree with everyone's suggestions... I do the same thing especially when looking for big ticket items. The one thing I would add though, especially if you buy from Amazon, is to keep an eye on the price of the item *after* you have purchased it. Amazon (linky)
has a 30-day price guarantee... if the item drops in price within 30 days, just drop them a nice email with your order number, item, price you paid and point out the current price. They will usually issue you a refund for the difference.

And keep an eye on it... if the price drops further within 30 days, just send them another quick email and ask for a further refund.

Stores like Best Buy have similar policies, you just have to come in with your receipt, so keep an eye on their Sunday circulars after your purchase.
posted by jerryg99 at 10:30 AM on November 15, 2007


I'm subscribed to the following RSS feeds, and I just set up a search in my reader across them and wait for my item to pop up. Other than that, fatwallet/slickdeals/techbargains are good.

http://pricenoia.com/
http://consumerist.com/
http://dealhack.com/
http://bankdeals.blogspot.com/
http://www.techbargains.com/
http://www.freeafterrebate.info/
http://www.slickdeals.net/
http://www.cheapassgamer.com/
http://www.thefreebiesource.com/
http://www.bensbargains.net/
http://www.edealfinder.com/
http://dealnews.com/
http://www.dealcatcher.com/
http://www.dealuniversity.com/
http://fatwallet.com/
http://dealsofamerica.com/
http://nextag.com/
http://pricegrabber.com/
http://epinions.com/
http://ecost.com/
http://forums.anandtech.com/categories.cfm?catid=40
http://www.froogle.com/
http://www.woot.com/
http://cheap.typepad.com/
http://resellerratings.com/
http://ecoupons.com/
http://motherofalldeals.com/
http://www.gotapex.com/
http://www.passwird.com/
posted by Mr. Gunn at 1:15 PM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's that list in OPML, if you like.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 1:19 PM on November 15, 2007


At the risk of self-plugging, and only because it is actually on point, I run a site that aggregates deals and posts them in a daily format similar to many of the sites Mr. Gunn posted.

And we've got RSS too!
posted by MaverickX at 4:22 PM on November 15, 2007


Sweet. Thanks everyone--sorry for the delay in my response. Work ran away with me today. I'm going to go through and mark several best answers. Right now I don't actually subscribe to any RSS feeds besides steepandcheap.com (and I do that w/ firefox), but I suppose I should change that. Now to pick a reader, eh?

Thanks everyone....and REALLY thanks for the words of advice about camera shopping.

Oh--and about "divorce" versus "scam", I don't care who you are, you don't sell an 06 lexus with 12k miles for $4000. It's a pretty well known scam, you send them a deposit to hold it and you never see or hear from them again.
posted by TomMelee at 6:58 PM on November 15, 2007


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