Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Rules That Will Help You Bag a Bargain on the Web (and the Best Price Sites)

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Rules That Will Help You Bag a Bargain on the Web (and the Best Price Sites)

Article excerpt

Byline: FLORA STUBBS

AS DAVID found, shopping online in search of a bargain can often leave you feeling disheartened or out of pocket rather than elated.

Experts say that you can avoid this if you follow a clear set of rules.

"My view is simple," says Martin Lewis, creator of moneysavingexpert.com, a website where shoppers can compare prices and experiences. "If you're going to shop online, don't buy anything until you've checked on a price comparison website."

First check out what kind of technology a site uses. While the idea behind Froogle is attractive, the technology it uses is not as advanced as sites such as Kelkoo and Pricerunner.

Froogle uses a regular search engine rather than using a "shop-bot" (or shopping robot as geeks like to call search engines that are geared to price comparisons).

But a common mistake made by online shoppers is to use the internet to choose the product itself. "You need to be clear about what it is you want," says Lewis.

"It's no good going online and looking for 'a plasma TV'. You need to have a specific model in mind. If you are buying something expensive, you do not want to rely on a website to help you make up your mind."

And he cautions against thinking of price comparison sites as a sure-fire way of getting a bargain. "It's a quick way of cutting costs, rather than the best way to find the absolute cheapest price in the entire country. And let's not hide the fact that all these sites have commercial relationships with the suppliers they promote. That's how they make their money - every time you buy something on their recommendation, they get commission." (This is not necessarily a bad thing - suppliers value their reputation and their commercial relationships, so it means you can be fairly certain you're not dealing with cowboys).

The fact is, as Neil Saunders of retail analyst Verdict says, consumers are frequently put off by the reality that savings offered by sites like Kelkoo are often minimal. …

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