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Tightwad Tuesday: Super Fast Comparison Shopping

by Shawanda Greene

Green Shopping KeyGoogle’s relentless quest to take over the Internet, and ultimately the world, has brought us many wonderful gifts: Google Voice, Google Maps, Google Chrome, Google Analytics, Google Docs and many more. Recently, I discovered Google Shopping, also known as Google Product Search.

For practically every big ticket item such as a laptop, I begin my research with Amazon. If you don’t have time to learn the intricacies of every gadget you’ve ever considered purchasing, you probably rely heavily on customer reviews when making buying decisions.

Use Amazon to decide what to buy. Use Google to decide who to buy it from.

Let’s work through a quick example.

My 1-year old laptop, a Toshiba Satellite A65-S6050, is making me crazy. Within minutes of use, after it was allegedly repaired by the Toshiba Depot Center, it’s doing the exact same thing they were supposed to fix. While weeping and screaming internally, I accept it’s time to move on.

Step 1: Find a highly rated, reasonably priced laptop on Amazon. Copy the make and model number of the item.

As of August 16, 2011, one of Amazon’s top rated laptops, based on customer reviews, is the Acer AS1430Z-4677 which is listed for $499.99.

Step 2: Paste the make and model number, copied from step 1, in the search bar on Google’s homepage.

Step 3: Click on “Shopping” in the left side bar of the page.

Step 4: To the right of the first search result that isn’t an ad, you’ll see a “Compare Prices” button. Click on that.

Step 5: Review the online store results.

Ignore results from retailers you don’t recognize or who have few customer reviews. In our example, top rated sellers worth looking at are Amazon, Sears, and Buy.com. Among this group, total prices, with tax and shipping, range from $499.99 to $699.95.

Although Amazon is the cheapest at $499.99, they’re particularly stingy when it comes to discounts. At $511.14, Sears may be worth a closer look IF you can find a coupon code or cash back offer through websites like Ebates.com or FatWallet.com. As for Buy.com, shame on you.

There are other comparison websites such as Pricegrabber and Nextag, but I find Google to be the cleanest, most comprehensive, and most convenient to use.

What other tips do you have for saving money on online purchases?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt B. August 16, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Great online shopping tip! I've done the same think when I was looking for different electronic items, knowing that there are always sales and such going on that I know nothing about.

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Karen604 August 16, 2011 at 11:38 PM

I had a Toshiba, what a piece of junk.
Fortunately, now my son works for Best Buy and has seen which computers have problems and have lots of returns. Acer he says has been good. Unfortunately it seems that all laptops seem to have a max life of 36-48 months at best. I guess the service plan is the best bet.
I would not want to buy a computer online unless I had some way of fixing it locally.
We are now buying all of the extended warrants, They have paid for themselves already in the past couple of years.

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Doctor Stock August 17, 2011 at 9:55 PM

Hey, thanks… I didn't know I could do this… at least I hadn't thought of doing it.

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Andy Hough August 19, 2011 at 6:53 PM

That is pretty similar to how I do my online shopping. Amazon does seem to be the best source for reviews.

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ElleX September 5, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Don't overlook Sam's Warehouse, Costco, or QVC. I purchased a wonderful desktop from Sam's last year – they had wonderful laptops but I wasn't ready to upgrade. Costco sends out a coupon booklet (I have seen laptops and desktops coupons) once a month and the prices are compariable to what you listed above. One of my co-workers just purchased a laptop (I think Acer) from QVC and she loves it – she made 3 payments, the keyboard was backlight and it had lots of memory and RAM.

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Shawanda September 5, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Thanks for the tip! I finally got off my rump and shipped my laptop back to the manufacturer. So far, it's working pretty good, but I'm still looking for an inexpensive back up just in case.

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