With all the information at your fingertips via the Internet, shopping for big ticket items like computers, audio and video equipment and home furnishings can be a snap. Saving big is easy, but takes a little bit of time…
I learned a lesson when I bought my first desktop MacIntosh , several years ago. There were 5 stores nearby that carried Macs and Mac clones, and I wanted one. I searched high and low, and found the best deal I could in a brick and mortar store.
Armed with that information, I went back to my office, and searched online. I was able to save over $600 on the exact make and model clone I wanted, and it was shipped the next day. Shipping included, I saved over $550! (Yes, this was a while ago, and desktops were much more expensive. You can probably get a good one now for less than what I saved, but the principle still applies.)
Here is a method for saving the maximum when you want to buy a big ticket item like a TV, computer or piece of stereo equipment.
- Figure out what features you need
- Do a little research online for the brands that have those features. You might even use a comparison shopping engine, or Google Shopping .
- Write down the model numbers, and the brands that you are now interested in, and the prices offered.
- Look up the model or models you have chosen in Consumer Reports, or a third party review site (one that has no affiliation with the brands and models in question) Compare reviews for your best value.
- Find a brick and mortar store that sells those models, call them and see if the item is in stock or on display
- Go to the store, if it is local, and check out the item in person. Ask questions if necessary
- Ask if the salesperson is on commission (this will help tell you how much is “sales puffery” and how much is factual. No offense to salespeople intended!) If they are on commission, get their name. If you purchase from this store, it is only fair that you buy from this person.
- Ask if the store has a price match policy, and if they expect the item to go on sale in the near future. If they have a price match policy that includes online pricing (some do not) you now know where to buy your item at the best price. And of course if the online option is still the best, when you figure in shipping costs (most sites will provide free shipping for larger purchases) you will have done your due diligence and most likely have the real best deal.
This method is generally only for new items. The best deals are usually on used items. Personally, I would first go to Craigslist.com, freecycle.com or eBay.com to scout out what I can find used, but when that is not an option you can still save a lot with a little bit of research.
Its a tough world out there in retail, and brick and mortar retailers have to compete viciously on price and service in order to keep up with online retail. By using both, one for research and finding a baseline price, and the brick and mortar for a closer look at the goods, you can get the best deal for you.