Feb 19

Tips on Shopping Tricks that Stores Hate

manshopper The Consumerist, the site where ‘Shoppers Bite Back’, has come up with a list of top tips to save shoppers money that stores wished you wouldn’t find out about. Start saving (and throwing retailers off their game!) today:

1. Buy Loss Leaders and Leave – Loss leaders are products that a company sells at or below cost to lure customers into the store. You can usually spot them in advertising circulars as products with disclaimers like “Limit 3 per customer”. The last thing stores want is for you to waltz in, buy all the loss leaders (and nothing else) and leave. So that’s exactly what you should do.

2. Use Credit and Pay it Off on Time - Sometimes stores will offer a "6 months, no interest, no payments" offer on big ticket items. These offers are not just to help you buy stuff; they are put in place to trick you into paying more for the item than if you had paid cash. The best thing to do is to take the cash you would have used to buy the item and put it in a high yield savings account. Then buy the item with credit and wait until 5.9 months later to pay it off. That way, you’re using someone else's money for 6 months for free. One word of caution: pay the full balance off on time, or all your efforts will have been for naught.

3. Say No to the Extended Warranty - Stores play on the fact that electronics are a big investment, and try to scare you into buying an Extended Warranty. The Extended Warranty is basically just a trick to get you to pay way more for the item than you need to. If you're worried about not having an Extended Warranty, purchase your electronics with a credit card that offers Extended Warranty protection.

4. Activate Your Own Phone - Cell phone companies want you to sign a contract. It’s their prime objective. To get around signing on the dotted line, buy a used phone, or an unlocked phone, and then call the cell phone company and activate it. No contract required.

5. Shop in the Store but Buy Online – Stores are just places where you can look at things you will later purchase for cheaper online. Look at your new laptop. Try it out. Ask questions. Then buy it online. Non-virtual stores hate when shoppers do that.

6. Buy 1 when the Deal is 2-for-$5 – “Two for” deals are bull. What they really mean is: “Please, for the love of G-d, buy this and get it out of the store.” Buy as many as you decide you need, not as many as they tell you to.

7. Open a Store Credit Card then Cut it Up – The trick here is to strike when the iron is hot. If you need to buy a bunch of items at a department store, for instance, it may be worth it to sign up for that store’s credit card just to get the members’ discount on that one big bill. But once you’ve paid it off, cancel the card. No card means no interest and no fees (which is where those cards make their moolah).

8. Use Websites to Track 30-Day Price Guarantees - Stores have "30 day price guarantees" to make you think they have such low prices that they're not going to get any lower. That may well be true, but who knows, since after you buy something, you don’t usually keep shopping for it. The answer: sign up to RSS feeds for websites that keep an eye on your desired purchase to see if the price does in fact drop during the guarantee period.

9. Buy Seasonal Items at Clearance Prices - Seasonal items are a big deal for retailers. They want you to buy their seasonal stuff at full price, when it’s most profitable for them. But once the holiday is gone they need to make room for the next one. Take advantage of that, and buy now for next year.

10 Buy “Accessories” on eBay and Avoid Big Markups - Retailers will often discount a big ticket item only to charge ridiculous prices for "accessories" such as connectors, cables, controllers, leather lotion for your stupid coat you just bought, etc. They usually succeed to convince buyers to buy the little things, since if they gave you a good deal on a TV chances are they’re going to give you a good deal on small ticket items, too. But it’s often not the case. Buy this stuff on eBay or at least research what the little items really cost.


  • Another neat way to save while shopping online is this site:


    You can search and sort products by price, popularity, percent off and customer ratings. There's also a way to view sample customer reviews.

    Mar 07
  • With store credit cards, also need to pay the minimum on each statement during interest-free period.

    Feb 20
  • These are all great tips that I can understand would frustrate retailers. Another thing you may notice when shopping on line is the little box that asks if you have a coupon code. If they have that box, the chances are there are some codes out there that could save you a bit of cash. Certainly worth a couple of minutes to google the retailer or check out one of the vertical sites that specialize in aggregating the information you need to save money.

    Feb 20
  • Not always a good idea to open too many store credit cards. Each one will appear on your credit report and lower your score.

    Feb 20
  • 2 for $5 deals sometimes require you to buy 2 of the product. For example some grocery stores may charge 2.99 for 1 but 2 for $5 so in that case it makes sense to buy 2 for $5 to save the 50 cents.

    Feb 20