You may have noticed that I don’t jump to post every deal that hits other sites on my blog. This is because I like to take time to make sure that a deal is “legit” before posting it. This is tricky sometimes because hot deals are often time sensitive and so in waiting, I run the risk of missing out on a deal. I guess my philosophy is that I’d rather miss out on posting a hot deal than post a deal that ends up not being legit and even worse, compromises people’s personal information! Sometimes I have “jumped” on a hot deal that seems “legit” only to have it canceled later due to “pricing errors” (does anyone remember the Target Britax deal?!) and other times I have jumped on a deal assuming it might not work out and been pleasantly surprised when it actually did ($5 Eclipse Blu Ray/DVD from Target). PLEASE NOTE: I’m not criticizing others for posting deals right when they pop up – I’m just explaining why you typically won’t see that here. I certainly have posted deals that ended up not being deals or being legit in the past. It’s a fine line that’s hard to navigate sometimes!
Through the years, I’ve learned a few things about finding real bargains, and I have gotten a number of free items, but I have also encountered some bogus deals along the way. For some people, just one bad deal can lead them to give up bargain hunting forever. I decided to stick it out, and along the way, I have learned some things about how to separate the deals from the scams.
Do your research
If you see a deal posted that you are interested in, but you are not familiar with the company, make sure that you do your research first. Visit their website and look for contact information. If phone numbers or e-mail addresses are posted, try contacting the company. If you can’t locate a working phone number, that is usually a sign that the company is not legitimate or reputable. If the company is not located in the United States, you may also want to be cautious.
Try using a search engine to search for the company. See what others have posted about their experiences with the company. “No news is good news” is not a good rule of thumb when dealing with online deals. If you are unable to find any information about the company, then you probably want to wait before jumping on the deal.
Visit message boards to see what others are saying about their experiences with the company. Sometimes it pays to wait awhile so that you see if the deal really works out.
Look for the “catch”
I have gotten some great deals through the years, but more often than not, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is, especially if you are dealing with a company that is not well known. Be sure to read the fine print on offers. If you are trying to take advantage of a deal that is supposedly free, you should not have to give any payment information. If you are asked to provide payment information, then there is probably a “catch.” For example, you may get a free trial for a specific time period and then you will be charged a fee once the free trial is over. These offers are not necessarily bad, but you need to make sure that you are fully aware of the terms when you sign up for the offer. Do not give payment information unless you are accessing the site via a secure connection and have researched the company to ensure that they are legitimate.
Sometimes companies will advertise a deal that in reality is not much of a deal. You may think you’re getting a good deal because the company advertises that the prices are 50-70% off, but if you comparison shop, you may find out that their discounted prices are comparable with regular prices that other stores are offering.
When you take advantage of an online deal, keep a record of it. I keep a file that includes the date of my transaction, the terms of the deal, and contact information for the company. When I receive the offer, I update my file so that it includes the date that I received the item.
It is also helpful to take a screen shot of the page that lists the terms and conditions of the offer. Some companies, even ones that are relatively reputable, have been known to change the terms of an offer after the fact.
If you are the victim of an online scam, report the company to the Better Business Bureau. If you have an address or other contact information, you can also try contacting the Attorney General’s Office in the state where they are located.
*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.