Bargain-hunting online PDF Print E-mail
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Everybody loves a bargain, right? Paul Furber provides a guide to getting the lowest prices in the virtual world.

There`s nothing quite like bargain-hunting when you`re out shopping, be it for nearly new second-hand goods or perhaps some clearance stock at a favourite boutique or book shop. There`s the thrill of the hunt, the tension as you close on your prey and the victory ritual as you cart the victim off to the till.

Yes, I know: I shop like a man and I have seen Defending the Caveman. Twice. The ladies can substitute their own mysterious emotions and rituals, but we all love it equally.

Is it possible to do this sort of thing online? Well, maybe. Yes, you can search for bargains online, although instead of rifling through that pile of old CDs or jackets in search of a gem, you`ll be browsing websites, which is not quite the same thing but does have its compensations.


Finding the perfect deal

Let others do some of the hard work. The first port of call should be a price aggregator such as Jump, ShopMania or PriceCheck. For instance, while browsing ShopMania`s front page, I noticed that 23-inch Samsung LCD monitors vary from R2 400 all the way down to R1 699.

The latter price is a steal, which is, of course, what we`re looking for. Select `lowest recommended price` from the page`s list of links and there`ll be a choice of sites from which to buy one. It`s as easy as that. Sometimes the reason you`re getting a good price is that the product isn`t backed by the manufacturers` warranty - always check for this.

If there`s no real value in having a warranty, then by all means go ahead and save the extra rands. The second way to keep abreast of the latest deals is to sign up for the regular newsletters that almost all online shops have.

Just as regular browsing over a long period of time pays dividends in the physical world, so too does it online. A quick five minutes reading the weekly specials can save you thousands but remember that this is no quick saving - it will take time and effort.


The third, and possibly most important way to get the most from a bargain, is to take extra care about shipping and handling costs. This is easiest to see when weighing up whether to buy something from an overseas website or a local one. The local one may look way more expensive but once courier fees, import duties (if any) and VAT have been added to the price of your object of lust, you might find that paying the extra from a local supplier is actually worth the money. Sometimes it really isn`t: a $1 000 laptop in the US with all the extra costs is still a good deal less than the R16 000 it retails for here.

The auction and the classifieds route


The reason the internet has revolutionised so many industries is that it`s turned ordinary small industries into global ones.

The local auction has been transformed into a giant global one where absolutely anything can be bought and sold using established brokering sites like eBay and, closer to home, BidOrBuy.

Are there bargains to be had? Most definitely but be careful.

Bid or Buy

There are any number of scams on the online auction sites. Unsurprisingly, most of them involve separating you from your money without you getting anything of value in return. The safety tips that apply to auctions also apply to classified sites, although more to sellers than buyers.

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