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Online Shopping Tips for the Holidays

Don't get taken for a ride online with your holiday shopping. Follow these tips to get great gifts.
By Scott Wainner
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Scott Wainner of visits Friday to help you get the best holiday gifts for the best prices online. Below are his top online shopping tips.

  1. Check review sites such as Anandtech, HardOCP, and Epinions or mainstream sites such as, Cnet, and ZDNet to read reviews on the products you're looking for. Even retailers such as and are good sources of user reviews.

  2. Use ResellerRatings' Price Search,, Price Watch, or to find the best prices.

    Try using more than one of these to narrow in on the best price for a product. If you don't need to buy new, check eBay to find prices on used products and browse trader forums at sites such as and AnandTech. If you do want to buy an item from an individual in a forum, see if they're rated at

  3. Use ResellerRatings to read customer reviews of stores before you buy. Even if you've bought from a merchant before, check ResellerRatings periodically since a retailer's quality may improve or worsen over time. Our six-month ratings feature is a six-month moving average and is a good indicator of a retailer's most recent performance.

  4. Pay attention to the individual ratings for a company regarding pricing, shipping, technical support, and return/replacement. If one of those areas is important to you, don't order from a company with a low rating in an important area. For example, one retailer has an 8.25 six-month overall rating on ResellerRatings, but a 3.53 return or replacement rating, so it seems that customers aren't too pleased with doing returns with that retailer.

  5. Order out of state to avoid sales tax on expensive items or close to home for quick standard shipping. PriceGrabber has a "bottom line price" feature that uses your ZIP code to help identify which merchants will charge you sales tax and what the estimated shipping charges will be.

  6. Check coupon sites such as and for coupon codes and rebates. Also check deals forums such as AnandTech's hot deals and ResellerRatings' deals forum. Don't always assume that a "deal" at one of those sites is the best price. Take everything into account (sale price, rebate amount and hassle, shipping cost, tax) when deciding what and where to buy.

  7. Send in your rebates and include the necessary paperwork. Don't fall into the trap of buying something because it has a rebate and then never sending in the form.

  8. If a problem arises, first try to contact the retailer to attempt to resolve it (more than once if need be) before taking any other steps. Don't assume that it's out to get you. Even good retailers have bad days.

  9. If you've tried several times to contact the merchant and it hasn't shipped your product, or if it shipped you the wrong product or a broken product, call your credit card company and dispute the charge. Always pay with a credit card to ensure this protection.

  10. Post your positive or negative feedback on ResellerRatings. Many retailers monitor the site and will contact you to resolve complaints, plus you'll be helping future buyers.

    Originally aired December 5, 2002
    Modified December 10, 2002
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       Talkback Post your comment here >   
      You can get inside tips on unad... - Kurt Bruder
      I would be very cautious about ... - Matthew N
      I agree that people should sta... - Amanda Bruce-Wilson
      I work at a large chain of offi... - Jerry Bryant

       Watch This on TV
    There are no upcoming airdates for this episode.

    Last aired on:
    Saturday 12/21

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