How To Distinguish a Sale from a Rip-off

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During the bargain feeding frenzy that holiday shopping has become, it's easy to be led astray by shady marketing tactics. Here's how to avoid being ripped off.

Black Friday is nearly upon us, a time when adrenalin often overtakes common sense.  Today Lifehacker published an article detailing the tricks unsavory merchants use to reel you in and steps you can take to fight back.

Tricks they use

  • Discounts based on inflated prices: This is something we talked about last year in Tips for Outlet Mall Shopping – it may say “50% Off!” but 50 percent off what price?
  • Rebates: This is something we discussed just last week in 5 Tips to Win the Rebate Game. If you don’t get the rebate, you didn’t save anything – and many people don’t jump through the required hoops to get one.
  • Liquidation Sales – Avoid them like the plague. They’re often put on by specialty liquidation companies that inflate original prices and otherwise suggest you’re getting a much better deal than you actually are.

Your Defenses

  • Make a list – If you get lured into an impulse buy, you have only the merchants word that it’s truly a good deal. Make a list and buy only what’s on it.
  • Research, research, research – The best (in fact the only) way to know if you’re getting a good deal is to research prices and comparison shop before you’re standing in a store staring at a 50% off tag.
  • Technology – If you have a smart phone, you have the ability to scan a bar-code and see if the deal you’re seeing is truly a deal, or if you can buy it elsewhere for less. For Android phones, Lifehacker recommends Milo for Android and Pic2Shop. ShopSavvy is an app for both iPhones and Androids, and any phone that gets the Internet can use Google Product Search for Mobile.

That’s just some of the tips Lifehacker put in their article – check out How to Figure Out When a Sale Isn’t Really a Sale

Stacy Johnson

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