Best tips, guides and newsletters to help you shop smarter.
Buy Stuff At A Mega-Auction Site
AuctionWatch.com offers free buyer and seller services for auctions. If you're a seller, you can post pictures of the items you're selling and track hits to all your auctioned items. For buyers, there's daily news and reviews of popular auction sites, suggested tips and tactics for winning bids, and a comprehensive directory of many Internet auction sites.
Compare Prices Across Many Auctions
The BottomDollar.com shopping agent lets you compare prices at many sites, including auctions. It doesn't cover all auction sites, but many major sites are covered: Yahoo Auction, Webauction.com, Auction Addict, Up4Sale and more.
Compare Prices At PriceScan
This price-watching service refreshes its price database by scouting magazine ads, catalogs and the Web, to bring you the most current scan of who's selling what for how much.
Comparison-Shop Any Product At Product Review Net
Browse thousands of consumer product reviews! Net Magazine calls Product Review Net "Consumer Reports on Steroids", while Yahoo Internet Life picked PRN Number 2 among the "most incredibly useful Web sites"! You can even submit your own reviews, opinions, and product experiences.
Net Magazine called PRN "Consumer Reports on Steroids," and Yahoo Internet Life picked PRN second among "The 25 Most Incredibly Useful Web Sites."
Comparison-Shop Products At CompareNet
CompareNet is the best site available for searching for products that have the features you want! You'll find sections on Product Comparisons, Side-By-Side Charts, Product Reviews and Classified Ads. Many products are covered, from TV's to SUV's.
Download "Gator" To Fill In Web Forms, Passwords
Gator is a free online tool that eliminates frustrating web chores like filling out forms and remembering passwords. Gator safely stores all your personal data in an encrypted file on your hard drive. When you hit a web page that has a form or requires a login ID, account number or password, Gator surfaces and provides the information, with no typing needed! It's a small file -- under 3 minutes to download on a 56K modem. On top of all
that, you'll also receive $50 worth of free coupons for online stores.
Gator is one of the easiest and most useful downloads you'll ever get. It's one of those new "eWallets" that help make online surfing and shopping a snap.
Earn Money For Reading E-Mail At MoneyForMail.com
MoneyForMail.com will actually pay you money to read e-mail from advertisers. You'll get $.20 to $2.50 per email message you read. Your confidential information is never released, because MoneyForMail charges advertisers a fee to send the email to you, instead of selling your information to the advertisers. An amazing deal!
When you get there, you'll see "davesnell" (the author of iMarvel.com) as the person who
referred you. Keeping it there would send a few bucks our way (from MoneyForMail, not from your own loot.)
Explore The Bottom Line Web Site
The publishers of the famous Bottom Line newsletters have created a new web site, BottomLineSecrets.com. You can search the site's excellent database of articles, try a subscription to any of their publications, and read secrets from America's best source of inside information. They offer interesting new content every week, and a free weekly email newsletter.
Explore Your Legal Options At Lawyers.com
At Lawyers.com, you can search for a lawyer by their locations, legal areas of expertise, and even language(s) spoken. You can also use this site to learn about the law and your legal options. You can pose legal questions to the legal experts who maintain this site, talk with other visitors on their bulletin board, and read the latest legal news. Their services include Arbitration/Mediation, Legal Aid Programs,
Self Help Legal Publications and "Law Links" to other legal sites.
Find And Map Any Business
At American Directory Assistance, you can get the address and phone number for almost every business in the country -- plus a map showing the exact location!
Find The Nearest ATM Machine
The Visa.com site can find the three closest ATM's to any location. It even gives you a map showing where they are!
Find The Right Price For Any Product
The Center for the Study of Services maintains a free consumer reference guide to features, buying advice, and real world "target prices" on over 8,000 big-ticket consumer products. Their "BARGAINS Plus" subscriber-only area lists over 2,000 "best" prices from BARGAINS retailers who are competing for your business and willing to ship products direct to you. "Unlike the other online sites, where retailers pay a fee
to appear, BARGAINS Plus retailers can't buy their way into our listings--the only way their prices get listed is if they offer some of the best prices around." Prices are based on weekly research of the lowest prices from newspaper advertisements in seven major cities around the country, as well as mail-order catalogs and brochures.
Get 6 Bottom Line/Personal Free Issues
Get 6 free trial issues of this great newsletter, packed with useful information about how to live smarter, richer and longer. Get tax tips, consumer insights and tips for success, save time and make money. They have really made it
their mission to help people lead a happy, healthy life. They sell great books too!
Get Free Consumer Advice From Uncle Sam
The Consumer Information Catalog has the full online text versions of hundreds of federal consumer publications in a searchable database. You can view them for free online, or purchase printed copies that they will mail to you (some of which are free.) There are sections on Cars, Children, Employment, Federal Programs, Food & Nutrition, Housing, Health, Money, Small Business, Travel and Miscellaneous.
Learn Consumer Kung-Fu!
Here's the best tricks for safe and savvy online shopping. Read about the advantages of shopping online, use online shopping guides, and find out how to ditch annoying telemarketers and spammers.
To read more, click: Flea Market
Learn How To Find The Best Airlines
The Department Of Transportation periodically publishes an airline quality report. Want to find out which airlines are the best?
Check out these pages for airline rankings:
Learn How To Save Big On The Web
An excellent article at ComputerShopper explains how to save big while shopping the Web. Many online stores offer hefty coupons and deep discounts to new customers, hoping you'll keep buying from their site. The article also explains that this won't last forever, and some online stores may get eaten by bigger fish.
If you're going to need service and support for a product you buy online, find a reliable site that will stay in business to provide support, and make sure that its products carry a warranty from the original manufacturer.
Privacy Tip #1: Don't Send In Warranty Cards
Don't send in product warranty cards: they are almost never required. If you do, your name will be sold.
Privacy Tip #2: Don't Put Phone Numbers On Checks
If you use a personal check to pay for purchases, your address and phone number could be captured. Pay with cash, if at all possible. Don't put your phone number on your personal checks. If it's already there, then ink out your phone number on all personal checks you give to any company.
Privacy Tip #3: Don't Buy From Direct Marketers
If you're ever tempted to buy something from a direct marketer, get it from an online store or local store instead. Buying from direct marketers just encourages more junkmail and telemarketing calls.
Privacy Tip #4: Use An Unpublished Phone Number
Get an unpublished phone number or an unlisted number, so that it won't appear in the phone book. Or, for about $3/month you can get a "distinctive ring" phone number. When people call this number, it will ring the same telephones as your regular phone number, but will sound different to you. Give out the new "distinctive ring" number to your friends and family. Answer the phone only on a distinctive ring, and let the answering machine handle all phone
calls to your older telephone number. The telemarketers will get the answering machine when they call, and will just hang up the phone (they almost never leave a message.)
Privacy Tip #5: Tell Telemarketers To Go Away
When a telemarketer calls you, say "Put this number on your do-not-call list". Theoretically, this legally forbids the company from soliciting you at this number for 10 years (unfortunately, there is still no certain way of pre-empting the first call.) If they don't obey the law, an article at U.S. News Magazine actually shows you how to sue telemarketers (there's a penalty of
at least $500 for each violation.) You must maintain an exact record of who you've told to be placed on a do-not-call list. There are many people who have made a few thousand dollars by suing telemarketers who called them twice.
To read about how to sue telemarketers, click: U.S. News article
Privacy Tip #6: Never Give Them Your Phone Number
Never put your phone number on any form, unless the form specifically states that you are required to give your phone number in order for the form to be accepted. In that case, include a letter requesting that all information be kept confidential and never be used for direct marketing of any kind. You do not have to put your phone number on your voter registration form. Remember, quite a few people don't have phones, so it hardly makes sense for companies
and agencies to require someone to give their phone number.
Read Consumer Protection Advice Online
The Consumer Protection Agency has a site that's dedicated to serving the interests of consumers. It's a good site to consult before making an important purchase, in order to avoid scams and to see how to use products in the safest and healthiest way.
Topics covered include: Advertising , Automobiles, Children's Issues, Credit, Diet, Health & Fitness, E-Commerce & the Internet, Employment & Job Placement, Environment, Franchise & Business
Opportunities, Home, Investments, Pay-Per-Call Services, Privacy, Products & Services, Scholarship Services, Telemarketing and Tobacco.
You can read their publications online, or order printed copies for a small fee.
Read Product Reviews From The Gadget Guru
Andy Pargh, "The Gadget Guru", is touted as the nation's #1 new products reporter. It's a good site to keep up with the latest advances in electronic devices and programs. If you'd like to find a review about a new product you saw on TV or in a newspaper, chances are that you'll find one here.
Read Two Great Personal Finance Magazines
Some financial magazines go beyond investing and big business, to give expert advice to ordinary people. Two of the best are Kiplinger's Personal Finance and Family Money. They'll give you expert, practical and easy-to-understand advice. They cover a broad range of subjects, making sure to hit all the high spots: subjects like taxes and inflation, careers and entrepreneurship, thrift and financial planning, savings and insurance, personal investing and
more. And they're not expensive: Kiplinger's is only $14.97 for 12 issues at Magazine Mall. Or, you can get two free issues of Kiplinger's at FreeShop, if you're not yet sure you want to subscribe. You can find Family Money in many stores, or at ENews. One year (6 issues) costs only $9.97. You can also subscribe for 2 years for only $4 more at the FamilyMoney.com website. Kiplinger's online website is especially excellent!
And/or visit: Kiplinger.com, Family Money, FreeShop.
Read Two Smart Shopper's Sites
Here's two sites to help you become a smarter shopper:
- eSmarts: This site helps you find the lowest possible prices on the Web. They compare prices at different Internet stores, provide free coupons, discuss sales and share great shopping tips. A must see!
- Smarter Living Shopping: A great resource for anyone shopping on the internet, including sales, freebies and exclusive discounts. An entire section of their site is dedicated to finding great travel deals and passing them on to you.
Also visit: Smarter Living Shopping
Receive "Auction Alerts" For Wanted Items
The Bidder's Edge site lets you to search for items across many auction sites at once. It was recently picked as a PC Magazine "Top 100" site! This free service provides a pricing history of any item being auctioned, to help you decide whether you're getting a good deal. You can also monitor ongoing auctions and keep a lookout for items that you really want to collect, that will be for sale in upcoming auctions.
Their "Market Watch" serivce lets you receive daily emails that list all the new items you've been searching for.
Receive Personalized News Of Sales In Your Area
Are you tired of shuffling through newspapers and other flurries of paper to find out what's on sale this weekend? At this site, you can receive personalized e-mail each week updating you on sales at your favorite local stores in your area.
Receive The AnchorDesk Newsletter
This is one of the most popular newsletters on the Internet. Keep up with the latest computing news and trends by receiving Jesse Berst's concise summaries and expert analyses every business day.
Receive The ConsumerWorld Free Newsletter
Consumer World has an excellent site for consumers. They offer a free newsletter, weekly consumer news on their site, and a fantastic collection of articles that tell you how to get the best deals. Get scam alerts, bargains, and new listings in Consumer World e-mailed right to your desktop. Their site gives you access to buying advice, product reviews, comparison shopping, travel bargains, complaint filing, consumer booklets, legal advice, and electronic coupons.
Save Money With A Great Loan Rate
GetSmart.com offers a complete line of loan-comparison services, including home loans, credit cards, debt consolidation loans, student loans and business loans. It's a great way to research the Internet for the best loan rate you can get. GetSmart itself is not a lender, and receives no financial incentive for directing you to a particular lender. It has the largest lender network on the internet with over 15,000 loan offers. You could save thousands of dollars!
Save Money With Group Discounts At Mercata.com
A new web store called Mercata.com can get great discounts from manufacturers, using the power of teamwork. They offer a different product every 12 hours. The more people who buy the product during that 12-hour buy cycle, the higher the discount.
Check out this site for their schedule of upcoming sales, and you just might save big!
Another site using group purchasing: Accompany.com.
Shopping Tip #1: Check Policies At Bizrate.com
Every online store should have a page describing its policies. The Bizrate online shopping guide is an excellent site that keeps tabs on policies for many online stores. A store's policies for returns and warranties are especially important, because you'll be ordering products without testing them first. So, take a good look at product reviews before you buy anything.
To see some good buyer's guides, click: iMarvel Consumer Advice
Shopping Tip #2: Use A Credit Card For All Buys
Use a credit card for all purchases. If you later have a dispute with the online retailer, you can call up the credit-card company and have them mediate the dispute on your behalf. The only time to NOT use a credit card is when responding to "Spam", or when shopping at a really shady-looking site.
Shopping Tip #3: Make Sure To Use A Secure Server
Make sure that the online store has a secure server, which encrypts everything you type to make sure it can't be spied upon. Most browsers will inform you when you enter a page that uses a secure server: a little key or padlock icon will appear at the bottom of the screen. You can click this icon to get more information about the company you're dealing with.
Shopping Tip #4: Cut Out The Sales Tax
Shop at online stores that don't charge a sales tax. Look for their address on their site: if the store isn't in your state, you shouldn't have to pay a sales tax.
You can get your delivery quicker if you order from a nearby store A cross-country order could take 7-10 days to reach you.
Shopping Tip #5: Use Independent Shopping Guides
Use independent online shopping guides. ESmarts.com is an excellent all-purpose shopping guide. They really look to help you make good shopping decisions, not just to cash in.
To read more, click: iMarvel Consumer Advice
Shopping Tip #6: Use Auctions And Shopping Agents
To get the best prices, take advantage of online auctions, classifieds, and shopping agents.
Shopping Tip #7: "Been Gypped? Turn 'Em In!"
About.com has an article by their Government Guide Robert Longley that points you to sites where consumer complaints bring results. Whether you've been scammed, slammed or crammed, Uncle Sam's willing to give you a fair hearing.