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Be careful when looking for deals, chances are you're overspending

Updated on November 20, 2014

Why I'm Writing This Hub

I live in Canada and I follow several daily deals savings sites. Some of these sites promote a single product while others many. Some of these sites are group buying deals while others are user submitted deals. In any case, I have my own collection of sources where I'm always on the lookout for insane price cuts. It has come to my attention that one site in particular seems to be ripping off its shoppers so I thought I would raise awareness to shoppers that not everything that's being promoted is really on sale.

You might wonder why this matters so much because most of these items aren't worth more than a few dollars. It is important because the fact that you are on one of these sites is because you are looking to save. if you are paying more on these sites than elsewhere, you are defying the purpose of visiting these sites in the first place. This is why it is so important to start questioning what these sites have to offer.

Quick Poll Before We Begin

Which deals and savings site do you use the most

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Group Buying Versus Deals Listing

There are two types of sites. The first is group buying, which I will quickly go over. The second is a deals list, which will be the main focus of this article.

Does Groupon or Wagjag sound familiar? If it does, here’s a follow-up question. Do you use any of them? If you do, you may want to reconsider. Sites like Groupon or Wagjag specialize in terms of providing potential customers with discounts in exchange for bringing in the negotiated business more sales. What’s all this technical mumbo jumbo? Let’s clear this up right here, right now with an example.

Let’s say I own a store called “Bly’s Bikes”. I rent bikes for $100 a day and on a typical day I can rent out 5 bikes. Wow, that’s 500 bucks! Now Groupon comes along and wants me to reduce my bike rental fee to $50. This means that I need two rentals to make $100 as compared to before where one rental would make me $100. Naturally I am at a disadvantage. Therefore, Groupon does something else. The group buy deal allows a lot of people, who otherwise would not consider a bike rental, to rent bikes. It relies partly on impulse shopping where Groupon members make a purchase where they otherwise would not simply because it is on sale. Back to our story. I agree to reduce my rental fee to $50 and Groupon lists my “promotion” on their website. Pretty soon, I get 20 people wanting to take advantage of this discount. 20 people make 20 rentals at $50 and that translates to $1000! Oh goodie! Now you see how this might be a win win situation?

Catching TeamBuy In The Act

The product is the $19 for a Qi Wireless Charge Pad for the Samsung S3/4, Note2/3, HTC 8X, and Lumia 920/820 – Tax Included ($80 Value)

TeamBuy lists this as an $80 value selling for only $19 plus $6 shipping. Yes, I have kept in mind that these are Canadian prices and I will do the conversion if necessary.

Source

This is the first part of the screenshot. As you can see that they claim you save $61 or the equivalent 75%. Now, please take a look at what I highlighted underneath.

Source

I apologize for this image being much harder to see. I actually had to zoom out quite a bit before capturing everything. The first highlighted text is the shipping and handling cost of $6. This means that the item doesn’t really cost $19, but $25. By playing with words, it is possible to understate the cost. Sure, the device costs $19, but you are paying $25. I prefer to go by the total cost really because that’s how much is leaving my wallet if I choose to buy.

Let’s take a look at the second highlighted point. Under the company heading, they list a website. This website actually only points back to TeamBuy.ca. It doesn’t point to the manufacturer of this product. Without a clearly identifying brand, we will classify this as a no-name brand.

Finding an alternative was actually very easy. Amazon.ca lists a (possibly) no-name brand. Take a look below:

Source

The highlighted text is the price. The highlighted text in the box is the price plus the shipping stated by the seller. I know what you are thinking, I didn’t factor in the Canadian sales tax. With a tax rate at 13%, we can work out $14.21 * 1.13 + 1.98 to $18.04. So rather than paying an upfront $25, you can easily save a few bucks purchasing it on Amazon.ca. By doing so, you save $6.96 or about $7. Seven bucks, big whoop! (Sarcasm Intended). I admit seven dollars may not seem like much, but it does add up. Not only that, take a closer look at the Amazon.ca screenshot. It doesn’t say anything about being on sale. Truth is, this is actually the regular price so I have no idea where TeamBuy.ca managed to pull off $80 from.

You can actually get it for even cheaper if you resort to AliExpress.com or eBay.com. For your convenience, I have actually hyperlinked the search results into the two website links provided. For the sake of keeping it Canadian, I intentionally selected ship to Canada and quote price in Canadian dollars. This way, you can actually see the comparison. From this one item alone, I question whether there is foul play here.

Why I Chose This Example

You should probably note that I purposely chose the Qi Wireless Charger as a method for comparison. As I modded my own smartphone to add the wireless charging capabily to it, I did extensive research on the Qi standard and these no-name products. No-name chargers work quite well. Since all the screenshots and links provided do not mention any real brand (Samsung, Nokia, Panasonic, LG, etc.) we can classify these as generic no-name brands. XDA-Developers forum has a very interesting yet useful thread on budget wireless chargers. There are many very positive reviews there including my own so I definitely recommend checking out.

What You Should Do Next

Unfortunately, the hard part is that not every site is as straightforward as TeamBuy. Sites like Groupon focus more on services. Services are much harder to compare because each one is unique in its own ways. The most useful method of valuating a service is through the reviews. Also, I personally find tech products are much easier to valuate because it is by far easier to find a definite price. Because each product has a specific model number or identifier, you can do an exact comparison with different retailers. In this case there is nothing unique to identify them like in the example I have given, I would classify the wireless charging station as 'generic' and compare it against other generic ones.

Valuating and comparing is difficult, but not impossible. Sometimes, the website itself is sufficient enough to tell you whether the overall deals are worth it. TeamBuy is definitely not worth it. I can easily pull several examples, but I think I already made my point.

This next section will hopefully get you in the mindset as to what to look out for. It contains just some features I find attractive or not.

My Recommendations

Website
Product Selection
External | Internal
Price
SlickDeals
Small variety/ assortments
External: Links to external retailers
Very attractive, some deals priced less than $10 while retailing for $100+
PayDeals
Huge variety of brand name products that can also be found on the manufacturer's website
Internal: Ordering on site itself
Very attractive, brand name smartphone cases are by far the biggest discounts (around 80% off)
Froobi
Very little no name products
Internal: Ordering on site itself
Decent, but you can earn rewards to redeem for more stuff

SlickDeals is a great deals aggregation site. I have seen some insane deals that I wish I could've snagged. These deals go fast. Since they source it from external retailers, the deals only last as long as the retailers have stock. Once retailers are out of stock, you are out of luck. Definitely keep an eye on SlickDeals. Generally, smartphone accessories, electronics, and home hardware are the three most significant categories.

PayDeals lists many on-going deals. You can secure an Incipio case that normally retails for $40+ for about $6. Smartphone accessories are a major component on this site, but it does have a large selection of other products as well. My only warning is that they tend to combine brand name products with generic no-name products so just be aware of this.

Services: Groupon & WagJag

Groupon and WagJag are very service oriented. Rather than offering a physical product, they might offer discounted tickets to an amusement park or a massage discount. However, that's not to say they don't offer products as well.

After taking a look at the products Groupon offers, I don't find the savings significant. It advertises an Apple MacBook Pro 13 for $1,077.99 while the original price is $1,199. Nevertheless, you do save money and Groupon didn't overstate the retail price.

WagJag focuses a lot more on services so you will actually have to visit the local bowling alley or restaurant to get an idea of the prices to compare the savings. I don't think this is too hard to do with most places having their own websites and easily accessible phone numbers.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 Comparison: Groupon

Apple MacBook Pro 13 Comparison: Apple Web Store

Conclusion: Go Exploring!

Groupon and WagJag are the more well-known sites, but really; there are a lot more sites out there. Google is your friend in this case. A simple search of the product's name will result with price directories for you to browse through. The important thing is to keep in mind that you are here to save money. Do not tell yourself that it's only a few bucks and won't amount to much. We have already established that by doing so, you are defying the purpose of these sites in the first place. If you really don't care about the price, then you shouldn't be looking through these deals listings. Finally, avoid impulse buying. You will be tempted to buy because it is cheap whether actually or not.

The general takeaway rules are:

  • Always look at total cost (Price + Taxes + Shipping & Handling + Customs)
  • Compare prices for physical products
  • Compare same brand and model or compare generic against generic
  • Look at reviews for services
  • For services, call the establishment and find out the regular costs

Hope the deals be with you and happy hunting!

Deals Listing

Deals listing sites are pretty straightforward. They list deals in the sense that the item listed is supposedly priced less than elsewhere. However, these sites come in their own variations. Sometimes, they will be linked to other retailers. Other times, they will sell the items themselves. Speaking of selling the products themselves, TeamBuy is a Canadian site that lists deals. Rather than linking to other online retailers, they sell the items directly to you.

TeamBuy caught my attention on multiple occasions. I see numerous things wrong with this site and many grey areas. What exactly is the problem of this site? Firstly, they overstate the original price. This makes the discounted price they offer seem low. Speaking of the discounted price, it is still rather high compared to other online vendors. On the products themselves, they are generally of little to no quality. These are no-name products; there is no brand name so you really don’t know the quality of these items. I would like to start off by taking a look at electronics. Why? Simply because they have some kind of unique identifier such as a brand (or no brand in this case), model number, serial number, or function that allows us to find alternatives very easily. I do have an example I want to share.

Catching TeamBuy In The Act!

The product is the $19 for a Qi Wireless Charge Pad for the Samsung S3/4, Note2/3, HTC 8X, and Lumia 920/820 – Tax Included ($80 Value)

TeamBuy lists this as an $80 value selling for only $19 plus $6 shipping. Yes, I have kept in mind that these are Canadian prices and I will do the conversion if necessary.

Source

This is the first part of the screenshot. As you can see that they claim you save $61 or the equivalent 75%. Now, please take a look at what I highlighted underneath.

Source

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    • jhehe profile image
      Author

      Theo 2 years ago from GeekTech

      I agree!

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 2 years ago from Earth

      Thanks for the hub! In a lot of cases, you can do better than what you find at Groupon or Livingsocial (or Wagjag) so I agree, you have to do your research. I still find good activities deals and restaurants deals though.