How to bargain shop online — and do it safely - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Money

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

How to bargain shop online — and do it safely

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 10:45 am

Amigos, here’s a worthy poster to nail on the gate post: “Wanted: Safe Bargain Shopping on the Internet.” In case you’re new to frugal buying online, here’s a big “howdy” to the new frontier of shopping.

Find online bargains: Many websites do the bargain hunting for you. is a favorite, constantly updating information. Also, check these locations:;;;;;;, and A number of sites also offer reduced-price vouchers, including,, and — the latter is a Valley-based site that deals strictly in dining discounts for area restaurants, including a bunch in Ahwatukee, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa. Just be careful to watch for expiration dates on vouchers!

• Use one credit card. Choose only one easy-to-monitor credit card for online purchasing, review your statements often for errors and print receipts and file them. Don’t want to use a credit card? Use a PayPal account where possible — another company with local roots, PayPal employs more than 1,100 at its Chandler operations center — and protect your information from the vender — and from all those identity outlaws out there who are ready to rob you, shoot you and leave your carcass bleaching in the sun.

• Use coupons. The best place to find coupons is often on the actual store’s own website. No current store coupon? Then get coupons online from various sites like, and Want other sites? Google the word “Coupons” and “git ‘er done!”

• Use cash-back shopping. Where possible, go through to make your purchases and to realize cash back averaging 4 percent to 10 percent. An actual “big fat check” will be sent to you faster than the Pony Express.

• Get free shipping. Go to to get — uh — free shipping. Find out who pays the shipping on returned items. I watched a TV commercial the other night wherein the shipping-and-handling cost was almost half the price of the item to be sold. If I got two of them on their “special deal,” then I had to pay the same shipping price two times. Guess where some of their profit comes from?

• Shop at home. Public Wi-Fi connections are easily hacked. While you are drinking a caramel machiatto and eating a breakfast bun at Starbucks, do not shop online. Same advice for using any other public hot spots.

• Use your own escrow company. If you have to use an escrow account, choose your own escrow company not the one suggested by the seller. An escrow site with a good reputation is

• Inform yourself. Know the return-and-exchange policies. Some online sites will let you return items to their affiliated, nearby stores. Make sure you know all costs and hidden fees. Know about warranties and guarantees. As always, read the fine print.

• Beware of unsolicited emails. Do not blindly open strange emails, especially those offering too-good-to-be true deals. Identity thieves are devils with Houdini brains and no conscience. A recent email said that I had won a bonanza: “Shh! Your check may have finally arrived!” Open the email and collect the gold. Right.

• Buy or sell gift cards. will sell you gift cards for less or will buy your unwanted gift cards at a reduced price.

• Keep the packaging. When I had to return a TV, I nearly swooned to discover that it would cost me several hundred dollars — SEVERAL HUNDRED — to have the item safely packed up and returned. Why? I no longer had the shipping materials. You don’t have to be one of those ghastly hoarders on TV — just wait awhile before you throw out the packaging.

• Know your seller. Always strive to deal with reputable people. Research the seller and read his customer comments. If in doubt, DON’T. We once looked at buying a bargain used car. The seller proposed to meet us at a gas station, wanted only cash, and offered no identification whatsoever. He couldn’t have looked shadier if he wore a black cape, twirled his moustache and picked his teeth with a nail.

• Protect yourself. Do not send cash, do not use wire transfers and do not use debit cards when shopping online. A credit card gives you certain rights if you have a complaint or if you need to cancel a purchase. Look for secure sites identified with https (the “s” is important) and/or a small lock icon on the screen.

Do not share personal information. (Got a big purchase in mind? Giddy up. Congress is ready to shoot down tax-free, online shopping).

• Best strategy. Get the precise identifiers of the item you want to buy: manufacturer, SKU, features, model numbers, etc. Check for the best prices using the bargain-hunting websites above. Use cash-back shopping if available on your item. See above. Check the coupon websites above. Check to see where you can get the item shipped for free. Guess where? Above. You’ll get a rip-snortin’ bargain.

And for you thieves out there — identity and otherwise: A pox on you. We shall get bargains online, we shall be safe doing so, and we shall thwart you until you bite the dust and die dead from frustration.

• Linda Hutchings is an East Valley resident and life-long frugal consumer — uh, cheap skate. Send her your penny-pinching ideas to

More about

More about

More about

  • Discuss

Phoenix police: ID theft suspect with connections to Russian Mafia arrested in Phoenix

PHOENIX - A man with connections to the Russian mafia was arrested in Phoenix for identification theft. Court records show that police arreste…

Published: October 26, 2016 - 4:56 pm @…

Hostility Awaits Clinton

House Republicans long ago made clear that, should Hillary Clinton win the Oval Office, she would not enjoy the “honeymoon” period that Congre…

Published: October 26, 2016 - 4:54 pm @

Why Sky Harbor is extending Sky Train, Terminal 4 operations for $950M

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has some more major construction in the pipeline. The Phoenix City Council approved two projects tota…

Published: October 26, 2016 - 4:56 pm @…

Study: Protected Forests on Public Land Burn Less Severely Than Logged Areas

Center for Biological DiversityContact: Tel: (520) TUCSON, Ariz. - A new study published in the scienti…

Published: October 26, 2016 - 4:56 pm @…

5 predictions for the Phoenix Suns' 2016-17 season

With a ton of young talent at their disposal, the Phoenix Suns will try to improve upon last year's dismal 23-59 campaign beginning Wednesday …

Published: October 26, 2016 - 3:54 pm @…

Immigrants in Arizona are campaigning to oust a controversial sheriff

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is one of the most controversial law enforcement officers in the United States. Now, his days may be numbered — tha…

Published: October 26, 2016 - 3:25 pm @…

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Charged With Criminal Contempt in Racial Profiling Case

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio to be tried on a criminal contempt charge, accusing him of disobeying a court or…

Published: October 26, 2016 - 3:23 pm @…

Which way? A new approach to navigating the Pacific Crest Trail

Info At exactly 583.28 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, along the Pacific Crest Trail, you will come upon Golden Oak Spring. Just shy of…

Published: October 26, 2016 - 3:25 pm @…

Media Advisory: Governor Ducey Holds 1st Annual Chief Science Officer Capitol Summit at the Arizona State Capitol

Arizona’s Chief Science Officer Program First of its Kind in United States

Published: October 26, 2016 - 3:18 pm @…

Grab Chips! Party roadmap to the official Arizona Salsa Trail

PHOENIX - Did you know there is an official Salsa Trail that cuts through Arizona? Well, now you do! Welcome to Arizona's Salsa Trail! The goa…

Published: October 26, 2016 - 3:21 pm @…

Facebook on Facebook

Twitter on Twitter


Subscribe to via RSS

RSS Feeds


Most Popular

Online poll