Whether buying online or in a brick-and-mortar store, Consumer Reports recommends the following 6 money-savings secrets that can help consumers stick to their budget this holiday season:
- Check for early sales and monitor prices. Traditionally, Black Friday offers the first blowout sales of the holiday season. This year, consumers should expect to see electronic retailers cutting prices a week or more before. Track prices from early November on. Consumers who do buy early should check the retailer's return and price-matching policies in case the price drops further or you see something better for less later.
- Don't rule out multitasking models. For the most part, products that multitask don't perform their secondary tasks as well as the best stand-alone models. But Consumer Reports has found that some multitaskers are worth considering with all-in-one printers that can scan, copy and more leading the way. There is also a growing numbers of TVs and Blu-ray players that can connect to the Internet and more digital cameras that have the ability to shoot HD-format video.
- Consider online retailers. Most people still buy their gear at walk-in stores, but the best online retailers outscored the best walk-in stores according the Consumer Reports.
- Beware of store policies with gotchas. Price shouldn't be the only criteria when purchasing electronics. Pay attention to return policies and exclusions on certain product returns such as laptops, which is the most common exclusion. Beware of restocking fees, though they are usually only applied if a box has been opened. Most retailers will not accept returns on any item if a rebate has already been filed with the manufacturer.
- Skip the extended warranty. 70 percent of respondents reported being pitched an extended warranty. Generally they are bad investments, most electronics will not need a repair and if there is a repair needed Consumer Reports survey data shows the average repair bill is comparable with the cost of the warranty. Buying a plan that includes accidental damage might be worth considering for laptops and netbooks that are brought on the go a lot. Also paying with a credit card might automatically double the manufacturer warranty and offer other benefits at no additional cost.
- Consider haggling. With electronics sales down, retailers are willing to negotiate, yet fewer than one in five tried. Of those customers who asked for a better price, more than half were successful. Average savings ranged from $200 for flat panel TVs, $100 for audio equipment, and $50 for cameras and camcorders. Respondents had better luck receiving discounts from independent stores and two regional chains – HH Gregg and P.C. Richard.
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SOURCE Consumer Reports