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23 Tips All Online Shoppers Should Know

Posted on Apr 14, 2009 at 1:22PM

cover of Shop Smart magazine for May 2009In the May issue of ShopSmart,  the publisher of Consumer Reports, ShopSmart makes sure you nab the best deals -- and avoid rip-offs -- every time by using these 23 strategies:

Start with comparison sites:,,,,,, (electronics).

Comb through product review:,

Grab a promotional code:

Shop retailer sites:  Sign up for email alerts.

Take advantage of websites that round up sales:,,

Leave the item in your cart:   We recently left an item in our cart at Pottery Barn and we got a follow-up email notifying us of a discount.

Get free shipping:

Shop the stores:  Don't assume that online prices will be better than a store's price.

Get a rebate:

See if eBay has it cheaper:  Check to see prices paid for the item by clicking on "advanced search."

Keep an eye on prices:,,

Look for ship to store:  Many e-tailers will deliver the item to a store saving you the shipping charges.


If the site is unfamiliar, go to  Click on "USA site," and then "Check out a business or charity," and then on the "Phone, URL, Email" tab.

Scan for negative seller reviews:,

Check seals of approval:  The symbols at the bottom of a Web page can tell you if a site is legit.  Hacker Safe (now McAfee Secure) and VeriSign Secured attest to a site's security; TRUSTe certifies a site meets its minimum privacy standards.  Warning:  These seals can be copied.  To spot a fake, go to the seal issuer's site (, and look for the seller's name and URL.  For VeriSign Secured, click on the emblem.

Get to know the seller:  Always check a street address, phone number, a privacy policy describing how the site will use your information, and secure checkout.  Look for an "https" prefix or a lock symbol when you hit the checkout page.  For more information for staying safe online, go to

Put away the checkbook:  Never pay by check.

Try an alternate method of payment:

Eyeball the site's return policy:  You will usually find it under "help" or "customer service."

Be careful when returning to a store:  If you buy online, don't assume that you can return an item to a store.

Watch out at online megamalls:  Site like Amazon sell products from other merchants that set their own policies or shipping returns.  Google the site's name and check their policy.

Watch for red flags:  If the site has typos, misspellings, or a URL that ends in .CN, .RO, or .RU, or some other odd suffix, or only accept checks, it could be a scam.

Scramble your credit card:  Many credit cards allow you to generate a number for a one-time use so that your real card number won't get into the wrong hands.   

Related Articles:

posted by
Tue, 04/21/2009 - 9:36am

I generally stick with tried-and-true. xtremegeeks, sephora, urban... sites I return to over and over. I don't click on the ad-emails either. I have learned to enter in the site name in my browser /I use firefox/ and then look for the seal I prefer = the company url/name highlighted in neon green. (stands for Extended Validation SSL). and like you mention, looking at the certificate for current standing = not a bad idea Eye-wink

I can't stand getting my pocket picked - and I certainly don't have time to "run after" what little money I make or spend.

Thanks for all the Links-- I have bookmarked them in my "shopping" folder.


posted by
Tue, 04/21/2009 - 9:55am

We love that you can call your credit card company and get a one-time number, too. Smiling

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