About a year ago, I provided a list of shopping tips that every otaku should know. Well, here are a few more!
For a lot of stores, when you buy something as part of a “spend $50, save $10” or a “buy two, get one free” event, the items are sold as a bundle.
Unfortunately, if you find out your gift turns out to be a duplicate or discover you actually had a copy on your shelf after all, you are often stuck; you have to return everything or lose the discount. Target, however, breaks up the discount across all items. This means you don’t have to give up your discount if you learn you don’t want everything in your original order. Some other stores do that too, but I’ve found Target’s policy the most consumer-friendly and hassle-free, especially combined with their return policy.
Although, a personal plea from me: don’t abuse this. Only cancel or return if you really don’t want it, not because you’re trying to game the system.
If you’re a regular reader of this column, you are probably familiar with my frustration with Barnes & Noble’s pricing discrepancies between their online and physical stores. As a Member, though, if the price is the same at both, you might as well buy at the store and get your 10% off. Unless it’s not stocked, then you’re out of luck, right?
Not necessarily. If you talk to the clerks at your local store, they can special order it for you, and you will be able to get your Membership discount. Plus, you should still be able to get free shipping. My local store had a little difficulty with the buy two, get one free sale, but the friendly manager was able to push it through. Hey, that $2.60 made a big difference!
A lot of people don’t recommend this for travel sites, but for most, adding items to your cart and then leaving may spur additional discounts. At the very least, sites will send you notifications if the price lowers or that you can get an additional discount. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to use browser cookies, this won’t help. But places like Right Stuf will often give you an extra incentive if they know you’re interested. Some sites estimate as many as 80% of carts are left abandoned, so you can bet some stores will be pushing for a sale. A lot of these are rare, one-time use codes, so take advantage of it in case you don’t see one very often!
Piggybacking off of the previous, for a lot of stores, coupons seem to be awarded arbitrarily. Sometimes it’s people who are in the stores constantly, and other times awesome discounts are given to someone who has never purchased from the chain before. While I don’t know how exactly eBay’s algorithm for offers works, I do know there are ways to manipulate or predict when you’ll get a 8, 10% back in eBay bucks or a $15 off of $75.
The latter has been popping up quite frequently as an evening flash sale just before the end of the month. Usually it falls on the 20-something of each month during the last full or near-full week. There’s a higher chance it will come back again if it’s just before the end of a quarter. So if there’s something you’ve been keeping your eye on, look for eBay notifications and emails late in the month.
However, outside of that, if you want to start getting better offers, search for higher priced items. Look for several days, adding items to your watch list. In my experience, this seems to signal to eBay there’s something you want but just aren’t ready to pull the trigger for. They’ll then start sending you these incentives to get you to buy.
This seems counterintuitive: if you order something, you want it as soon as possible, right? Well, while you might need a textbook for class, that last minute present, or some toilet paper when you’re running out, I don’t know if a lot of people have a DVD or keychain emergency.
Amazon and Walmart have been getting into some fierce price wars lately, and they each keep trying to match or beat the other. This means a lot of items keep dropping a little at a time, and it’s hard to know when you should pull the trigger. While Walmart does have post-price protection, if you want to order from Amazon, choose the slowest shipping option and monitor the item until it ships. If it goes lower, cancel and reorder. Hey, $6 here, $1 there, it adds up! Plus, if you’re a Prime member, you can get benefits like $1 digital credit, Prime Pantry credit, $10 off a Kindle, or other offers. Again, this may seem to take away from one of the benefits of ordering online, but think of it this way: it’s not much different than waiting for a sale at a normal venue.
Also, if you’re not sure if an item is going to drop, track Walmart. Whatever Walmart does — increase or lower the price — there’s a good chance Amazon will do the same. If Walmart goes out of stock (they’ll usually have a “only x left in stock” notification on the item page), Amazon will almost certainly raise the price shortly afterward, so lock in your order right away.
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