By Steve Bass
Frugal? Thrifty? No, Cheap!
"You’re a bargain hunter," one of my more polite friends says. My wife’s more to the point: She calls me a cheapskate. I like being frugal, but what do I know? Call me whatever you want (you will anyway), I don’t like paying retail and I’m always looking for a deal, especially when shopping online.
The Internet gives me the chance to comparison shop, see how shipping figures into the price, look over specifications, and feel confident I’ve found the best buy. Here are some of the sites I use.
You can pick up a decent amount of background info on an assortment of activities and projects at WhatItCosts. Some of it’s fluffy — what it costs to become a stuntman or to buy a Diane Von Furstenberg dress. Other topics are worth a look: buying a hearing aid or contact lenses, hiring a landscape architect, or learning how to fly fish. [Thanks, Mike.]
The showstopper when I’m shopping online is the cost of shipping. I’ll find something that looks like a bargain, say, a $3 chew bone for Popcorn, TechBite’s HR specialist. When I get to the checkout page, I discover shipping’s $11. I want to smack the site’s owner on the back of the head. That’s why I’ve added FreeShipping to my shopping arsenal. Sure, not everything’s a good match and I often get the same info if I go directly to the site. Yet I got lucky recently when I spotted dog.com’s $5 flat-rate shipping and ended up placing a $25 order. (And yes, prices were actually lower than competitors on the Water Hole water dish I was looking for.)
TechBite’s columnist Steve Bass and PC World Contributing Editor publishes a free weekly newsletter with commentary on the technology products he loves, the strategies for getting the most out of them,and the gotchas that can cause computing misery. Sign up for the newsletter here