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How to get the best bargains on Internet

Sanjay Krishnan | December 23, 2004

There is this Japanese friend of mine who was working with one of the agencies of the United Nations.

Posted in the Mongolian capital of Ulaan Baatar he was flying back to Washington to spend Christmas and New Year with his wife in the US.

So imagine the surprise when he flies via India to the US and you can include stopovers in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, India, yet another one in Singapore and eventually a couple more of them before he finally lands in the US.

One may well ask why he chose such a convoluted travel plan, which saw him flying in Asia for close to four days for a trip west.

The answer was simple. My Japanese friend was smart. He had a lot of time to kill as his wife was busy and he knew how to sniff out the best deals going on the Internet.

The total cost of his air ticket to the US was just below $700 and of course he got to visit a couple of countries for almost nothing. Smartness that we could all do with.

So for those of us who do not know how to go about getting the best bargains on the Internet, here goes.

Step One -- It is actually pretty simple. It is in the mind. Liken your looking for the best deal on the Internet to the same exercise of physically going from one shop to another looking for the best deal.

In this case it is in cyber space, far less taxing physically and even more efficient in terms of the time you spend pottering around.

Step Two -- Look for price and look for commensurate value. The Internet is supposed to make things cheaper and hence one should expect a substantial discount to the prevailing market price for any purchase being made on the Internet.

Step Three - Always surf all the online merchants who are hawking merchandise, the auction sites and also classified advertisements to better understand the plethora of choices that you have. One does need to spend some time visiting websites for the type of merchandise or travel or hotel booking that you want done.

Step Four - Look for as many discounts and bargains that are being offered in the cyber world and also accumulate as much information as you can about the particular good or the service before you say yes! This is more important if one were to buy second hand goods.

Step Five - Always factor in transportation costs. Sometimes this negates the online shopping advantage and can actually mean that you end up paying more.

Step Six - Be wary of 'shopping bots' or Internet sites that attempt to list the cheapest prices for items. Sometimes these sites only list manufacturers that pay them, so check out as many as shopping bots you can apart from other sites.

Step Seven - Be wary yet again if you are going to divulge your credit card number at any site. Always look for an option wherein you can call and then give your number rather than just type it in.

Step Eight - Respected and popular online auctions site almost always offer ratings of regular buyers and sellers, which is provided by their previous customers or vendors. Always try to use these ratings when choosing whether to buy from someone.

Step Nine - Use product reviews and other awareness raising resources to make sure that you always are getting the best value for your hard earned money.

Step Ten - If you want to book airline tickets or hotel rooms always remember that there is not much of a difference between a website and a travel agent.

Most often than not, if one site offers you the facility of booking a flight on more than just one airline, there could be another airline that may have a tie-up with a web site and offering special fares.

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