Price Comparisons & Picking Good Sellers

I check prices on just about everything I buy on-line. There are a couple of on-line price comparison services I have found extremely useful.
Books – Best Web Buys (I usually end up buying at Buy.Com)
Restaurants – Zagat (I pay for the on-line membership)
Everything Else – Yahoo Shopping
Random but excellent – Consumer Reports (I pay for an on-line membership here as well)
There are a few other sites I check out as well.
ebay – I almost never find better prices here but for strange things and some software it can be very useful
PriceGrabber.com, NexTag, mySimon – All three are direct competitors to Yahoo and offer similar features such as including shipping charges. NexTag has a nifty feature that shows the price history over time of the item. Sometimes I will find better prices on one of these services than Yahoo but usually by only a few bucks.

One warning about these services is that I not infrequently find that the price advertised on the comparison services are not the same price offered on the seller's website but (strangely enough) I tend to find that when this discrepancy occurs it is with a seller I wouldn't want to use anyway. Also on some rarer items sold by smaller companies the price comparison services won't be able to provide shipping costs. Be warned when you see that. An enormous number of stores like to play games where they will set a low price for an item but charge a huge amount of money for shipping.

One of the challenges of buying on-line is that many of the sellers are unknown to me. I do use the various rating systems and for this reason alone I will check across multiple sites to see how various sites rate sellers. I don't just check the star rating, I also check how many votes are behind it and will read comments. I also like to check out Epinions & Bizrate.com to get more information about sellers I don't recognize. For bigger items I'll also check out the store's information at the Better Business Bureau. The end result is that I often don't pick the lowest bidder.

The reason for all the checking is that dealing with a bad store really sucks. "In-Stock" items can turn out to not be in-stock. Items can be delayed forever in shipping or never ship at all. Good luck ever returning anything and unfortunately fraud can and does happen. A couple of years ago I bought a bench on-line. Not only was the bench a piece of garbage but the store charged me three times for it over a period of several months. When I filed a complaint with the credit card company the store fought back with a big letter with copies of my e-mails and such proving I bought the bench. This was enough to get the credit card company to refuse my complaint. It took a phone call and another letter to point out to the credit card company that, yes, I had (unfortunately) bought the bench. However, I hadn't bought it three times. Eventually I got the over charges refunded but I was still stuck paying for the crappy bench. Still, in then nearly decade or so I've been buying on-line that is the worst experience I've ever had.

4 thoughts on “Price Comparisons & Picking Good Sellers”

  1. Hey Paul. It is a a cool site, it even included shipping costs. But it doesn't seem to allow me to organize the entries by price. That makes finding the cheapest entry a pain. Are there other European sites that do a good job?

  2. I tried out price wormer for books and can’t say I was impressed. It had many of the same stores but it couldn’t, for example, handle shipping and handling charges accurately based on actual location the way bestwebbuys can. Bestwebbuys also found cheaper locations.

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