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Bargain Hunting Goes High Tech
In the old days bargain hunters were up at the crack of dawn every Saturday morning so they could hit as many yard sales as possible. I remember meeting my first few while I was in high school. My family held its first yard sale that I can remember one spring day. We had a lot of people who just came and took their time checking out what we had. There were also a few carloads of these seasoned professional that managed to get in and out in just a few minutes. Mostly the attendees were older ladies who you would not expect to have a vicious bone in their bodies….These are the type you have to look out for.
These crazy bargain hunters get up at 5:00 AM the day after Thanksgiving and beat you to death with an umbrella so they can be the first ones in line for Wal-Mart's early morning Christmas specials. These professional cheapskates were interested in almost nothing we had as they surveyed our yard sale with their divide and conquer tactics, mostly I think, due to our prices. I thought that for a ghetto blaster was a good deal but apparently not. I heard one of them calling out orders to her team as they quickly loaded back into their vehicle. She seemed like some kind of tightwad drill sergeant. "Hurry girls, we can still hit the other seven in this neighborhood before 10:00. Let's hope they aren't all over priced like this one!"
This offended me at first. Then over the years, I slowly began to understand their mentality. There is great joy to be found in feeling like you were able to take advantage of an establishment whose sole existence seems to be depriving you of your hard earned cash. My friends and I began what we liked to call "scrounge days" where we would see just how much stuff we could get for the least amount of money. I think it has truly become a part of me. And though I have never slept out on the steps of a department store so I could get the early bird special, I am just as die hard as some that do. I propose a better, smarter method, the Internet.
Initially, the internet made things a little simpler but you could never be sure you were getting a good deal because merchants always managed to get in those hidden fees. Shipping was never a factor before unless you ordered from a catalog, which I didn't. It seemed like you could count on not having to pay sales tax but the minute you got comfortable, you would find them tacked onto the end of an order.
As the Internet matured, sites became wiser and were more upfront about the hidden charges. Some even discovered that waiving the sneaky charges in the form of "free shipping" was a great way to offer "additional discounts". Shopping comparison sites also emerged that would do much of the research for you. These were great at first and I actually liked using these quite a bit.
During one purchase, I researched almost exclusively online but I still wanted to compare my findings with brick and mortar stores. I was amazed that the traditional stores could even stay in business. The sales people didn't have an ounce of product knowledge, something I had become quite accustomed to in my bargain hunting online. I decided that would be the last time I would ask a sales person for information if I didn't already know the answer to my question.
For the next several years, I would check the comparison sites each time I was considering a purchase. Then someone finally discovered that there were lots of us online deal hunters out there and invented the first deal site. A deal site is a site that is wholly dedicated to sticking it to the man. Merchants often sell things for less than cost in an attempt to get you into their store or onto their website. If you can just pick out the deals and not get sucked in, you win. Deals sites help you do just that. They tell you where to find the deal, what is required, and any slightly tricky details that the merchant doesn't want you to know about like rebate restrictions and the right time to act.
Through deal sites I have acquired a closet full of tech gadgets that came free with the purchase of another item or free after rebate. I honestly didn't want or need any of it, but if they are giving it away, why not? I will say that they have come in really handy as last minute gifts and white elephants. I have also sold quite a bit of it on EBay. It makes for a nice extra bit of spending money from time to time.
It won't be long before the next bargain hunter revolution in comes along. I predict that someone will find a way to bridge the online shopping world with the brick and mortar establishments and let me find a way to get the greatest deals online and pick them up within 3 miles of my home. We'll see how far off I am on that one.
About the Author:
ZuTroy De Silva is a market analyst for Deal Tracker, a deal and rebate website. He is working on a BFA in Visual Communications and has written extensively about the psychological effects of colors in advertising and marketing. ZuTroy always enjoys finding and getting great deals.