Online Shopping

                The season for gift giving and shopping is fast approaching.  With the increased online traffic, you have to be even more careful of the many scams, shoddy products, and just plain bad deals out there looking to swindle you. Today, we are going to give you some tools to help you protect yourself from inferior products and misleading on-line reviews.              

Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is a nonprofit that has been evaluating and rating products since 1936. Their product rankings are considered to the gold standard for many industries. Their evaluations have caused companies to change their products on many occasions and even led to them being sued by companies unhappy with their reviews. We carry their periodical at our branches as well as have an on-line version available through INSPIRE.

ReviewMeta

Not all reviews on-line are created equal. In fact, between unverified purchases, review bombing, and the various bots there are a glut of unreliable reviews. If you are shopping on Amazon, consider using ReviewMeta as it helps filter and readjust reviews from all types of bias, not just fake reviews. That hair conditioner that looked good rated at 4.1 stars could actually be closer to 2.9 stars.  While these differences don’t mean the product is faulty, it does indicate that something is trying to oversell you a product that might not be as highly rated as you were lead to believe.

Recognizing Scams

If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is. Look for warning signs that the site you are on isn’t on the up and up. Bad website design, poor English, and suspicious web addresses are all hallmarks signs of a phony on-line store. Trust your instincts, if a website looks suspicious or shady, it probably is.

The Human Element

Sometimes, the best resource you have is yourself. Do your research, shop at multiple locations on-line, before heading to the store to get an idea for what the price point should be. If you do find a great deal online make sure it is from a trusted site and reputable seller. Always factor in shipping cost when purchasing on-line. Don’t be afraid to use coupons and trusted coupon codes on-line. Keep your receipts and learn to haggle for a better chance at a bargain.

With these tips in mind, we hope that you have a safe and worry free shopping season.

Here are a few selections from our library to help you become a shrewder shopper:

Fantastic Discounts & Deals for Anyone Over 50! by Janet Groene

Extreme Couponing: Learn How to be a Savvy Shopper and Save Money-- One Coupon at a Time by Joni Meyer-Crothers with Beth Adelman.

The Everything Couponing Book: Clip Your Way to Incredible Savings! by Karen Wilmes

Do More, Spend Less: the New Secrets of Living the Good Life for Less by Brad Wilson

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