When shopping online, the price you see for an item in the morning may not be the same price on the same page later that day. Online retailers are constantly adjusting their prices, not only according to the value of the item, but even the location of the consumer, the time of day, recent happenings in the media and a whole slew of elements. So, how do you avoid the frustrating experience of fearing you got jipped? Follow these steps:
Download price-tracking apps
A variety of price-tracking apps, like Price Tracker, are available and linked to sites such as Amazon.com, Walmart, Target and eBay. These apps monitor price changes over time and notify you of the right time to purchase.
Visit price-tracking sites
You can also track prices on certain websites like Decide.com or CamelCamelCamel.com. Many of these sites run Twitter accounts for even more immediate changes in pricing. You’ll also be able to access price history reports to help determine what time prices change.
Use comparison sites
Just like there are sites that help you compare various travel sites, there are sites that help you do so for products, like PriceGrabber.com, Pricewatch.com and Shopping.com. These sources scour the Internet for all major online retailers of your desired product and show you the different costs.
Take a screenshot of price drops
If you buy an item online and later see that the price went down, take a screen shot of that price. It’s no guarantee, but often sending in that shot to the retailer, along with your receipt showing the price you paid, can get you a refund for the difference.
Clear your cookies
New shoppers are often privy to low prices that returning customers are not — this is how online retailers hook clientele. Trick online retailers by clearing your cookies, making their site believe you’re a brand new customer. This way, the site also has none of your purchase history and won’t name prices based on what it believes you’ll spend.
Abandon your cart
You may have accidentally already tried this strategy: you begin shopping on a site, fill up your cart, fill out most of the checkout form — including your email address (but not your credit card info) — and then close the site. Within a few days, you’ll begin to receive reminders from that retailer about your abandoned cart, often with special discounts to encourage you to complete the purchase.
Adjust your settings
Many sites, especially those offering electronics, have different settings or categories under which you can shop. For example, Dell’s site allows you to shop “For Education, Government, and Healthcare” or “For Home” or “For Small and Medium Business.” The same products may be listed at different prices under all of these settings. Try shopping under each setting and compare the prices.
Mega sites like Amazon.com and Etsy.com will always display the priciest and brand name versions of products at the top of the page, sometimes filling up the first few pages of your search. Always scroll to the bottom or next pages to see less expensive options.
Use promotional codes
There are literally hundreds of sites that keep up-to-date promotional codes for major online retailers. Check out sites like PromotionalCodes.com, RetailMeNot.com and CouponCodes.com. The actual retailers don’t often post these coupons or codes on their own sites.
Get shipping discounts
Don’t overlook the shipping discounts on the previously mentioned coupon sites. You should also note that on some sites, purchasing one extra-small item, or purchasing a certain brand of the item, means discounted or free shipping. Memberships with retailers can also mean discounted shipping.