Shopping online

June 1, 2004
Everyone knows that you can always find a better deal on something ... if you are patient and persistent. The Internet can prove to be an excellent tool to use in your quest to shop, but you need to be prepared and do your homework.

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, FICD

Everyone knows that you can always find a better deal on something ... if you are patient and persistent. The Internet can prove to be an excellent tool to use in your quest to shop, but you need to be prepared and do your homework. Here are some rules to live by when shopping on the Internet:

1) Know your product. Learn about your item's features and what accessories are supplied with it. Don't buy duplicate items.

2) Get a feel for the market. Search for reviews of your product at sites such as consumerreview.com and epinions.com. Visit a number of different pricing sites, such as froogle.com, pricegrabber.com, mysimon.com, and shopping.com.

3) Don't forget to check bargain sites. You can find sales, coupons, rebates, etc., at the so-called "bargain" Web sites. Some of these are bargains.com, dealcatcher.com, overstock.com, and techbargains.com.

4) Check out the manufacturer's site. Once you find your price, check the manufacturer's site to see what they list your product at.

5) Seek out rebates. ebates.com is an excellent site to search for coupons, rebates, free shipping, and more.

6) Visit newsgroups. To get more feedback, visit newsgroups that are dedicated to a particular device and post a question. You may be besieged with advice but it is good to hear what others have to say.

7) Read privacy notices and keep good records. Make sure sites are not going to sell your data. Print out screen shots of every page of your online transactions.

8) Avoid the gray market. Avoid items with foreign warranties and items that have been refurbished unless you know these facts upfront.

Here is a complete listing of Web sites that can be used in your search for the perfect product:

Comparison shopping sites:

www.pricegrabber.com
www.bizrate.com
www.mysimon.com
www.nextag.com
www.pricescan.com
www.froogle.google.com

Coupons, rebates, etc., sites:

www.edealfinder.com
www.jumpondeals.com
www.amazing-bargains.com
www.overstock.com
www.techbargains.com
www.bargains.com
www.dealcatcher.com
www.smartbargains.com

Opinion sites:

www.epinions.com
www.productopia.com
www.consumerreview.com

Auction sites:

www.ebay.com
www.ubid.com
www.internetauctionlist.com
www.auctions.yahoo.com

If you decide you want to get into online options in a big way and use automated bidding sites, check out the following:

www.auctionsniper.com
www.bidnapper.com
www.powersnipe.com
www.auctionstealer.com
www.auction-sentry.com
www.bidnip.com

According to Juniper Research, online spending grew 28 percent to over $52 billion in the United States in 2003. It is estimated that this number will grow 21 percent per year until 2007, when the amount will top $105 billion dollars or 5 percent of all retail sales.

Enjoy becoming part of these mushrooming statistics! With the above advice and sites, you will at least become savvy with your searching and purchasing.

Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, FICD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He also is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry magazine and spokesman and critical-issue-response-team chairman for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. His address on the Internet is www.dfdasmiles.com. Contact him by email at [email protected], by phone at (314) 567-5612, or by fax at (314) 567-9047.

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