Monday, October 13, 2014

Money Monday: 5 Tricks Online Retailers Use To Make You Overspend

More and more people utilize online shopping these days to find discounts, especially this time of year.
There's a good chance, however, that (even if you're a seasoned online shopper) you may
still be spending more than you need by the time you click that "checkout" button.
Considering the retail holiday that Columbus Day (today) has become, I thought I'd share a few
tricks retailers use (so you can sidestep those hidden fees and boost your upcoming holiday budget).

1. Flash-Sale False Urgency
"Score 70% off…for 12 hours only!" "Limited time, act NOW!"
I'm willing to bet that you've seen offers like these at some point in your life, especially online. The manufactured frenzies created by websites like Groupon and LivingSocial encourage the impulse of overspending…especially on things you don't really need. According to a blog post by Norman Silber (posted earlier this year on Huffington Post), Groupon has sold over $7.25 billion dollars worth of vouchers….but the value of unused vouchers may be as high as $725 million. That's right, MILLION.
Silber also notes issues with merchant failure rates…as well as the concept that vouchers
are simply loans (from consumers to merchants) in disguise.
If you've got a few minutes, his whole post is definitely worth reading.
You can also find more statistics on Groupon's redemption rates on Quora, if you're interested.

So…how do you avoid it? Don't buy a deal unless you've reserved a time to use it!
Mark it on your calendar, or set a reminder in your phone if you need to!

There are also other sites that offer a few more options for deals, with less emphasis on an immediate need to purchase. ScoutMob offers online shopping from independent artisans but (in select cities) you can also use their mobile app to find local discounts, events, freebies at restaurants and tickets to shows.

2. Filling Up Your Cart to Meet Shipping Minimums
It can be pretty tempting to stock up on more than you need to get this extra discount. Many e-tailers offer free shipping…but typically require a minimum purchase amount (that must also be reached before any applicable taxes are considered). Though there is usually an indication of retailer policies on their main pages, but don't hesitate to read the fine print of their terms.

To get around this, visit to find online retailers that offer free shipping
without any minimum purchase amounts. If the retailer offers the option, you may also be able
to pick up your order in a store near you (sometimes even on the same day).

3. The Temptation of a Discounted List Price
Seeing a majorly discounted list price can be pretty enticing…but wait before you buy!
In order to stay competitive, few online retailers actually sell products at list price (unless the price is set in stone by the manufacturer). You may think you're getting a great deal, but that 30 % off television might be 40% off elsewhere. Do a little research online to find the true value of your purchase!
Using a site like price grabber, learn what the item is selling for at other retailers.

4. Failing to Notice Delayed Shipping Dates
Never assume that the item you see will be immediately ready to ship, especially around the holidays. A lot of large sites use third-party retailers whose inventory may be limited, which could cause delays. Always double-check your shipping options, so you can get your items on time (and don't end up paying twice by having to get a replacement). On Amazon and similar sites, look for the "Sold By" icon on the product page to indicate the third-party retailer. Amazon, for example, doesn't offer its Prime free two-day option (free with yearly subscription) for all its third-party retailers' products. Check with customer service to confirm inventory, or see if another store may have the item. Some stores allow web shoppers to search inventory at local brick-and-mortar stores if items are sold out online.

5. Paying a Penalty to Make a Return
Even when e-tailers advertise free returns, there may be an additional restocking charge, which can add up to 25% of an item's cost. (This happens a lot with electronics that have been opened.) Before you make your purchase, check the return policy to find out how long you have to send it back, and if any fees apply. Zappos, for example, offers a generous window for free returns - a whole year!
If it's something you're interested in reading more about, earlier this year ComScore (digital data analytics) did a study about the demands e-tailers are now facing from consumers.

Are there any e-tailers or discount/coupon sites you frequent?
What was your best/worst experience with a retailer?

Send your thoughts to:

Happy Monday!

xxxx Alyssa Marie

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