Tomorrow is the big day - Cyber Monday. Some retailers are calling it Cyber Week. (Those are probably the ones that were open on Thanksgiving.) While it's awesome to shop in your pajamas (or at your desk at work), there are a few things you should know. Here are the tips, and at the bottom of this post I have the best prices for a few popular items.
1. Make sure your computer has security software that is up to date. Also, if you use Microsoft, check to make sure it is up to date. Don't assume - go into the program on settings and look for "updates" and run it to be sure.
2. Don't be surprised if websites load slowly. Don't even bother to try dial-up. Don't assume that it's OK to use your work computer to shop. Remember, it's not your computer. It is your employer's computer and your employer has the right to retrieve any information you look at or search for (something to keep in mind every day of the year.)
3. DO NOT USE PUBLIC INTERNET OR UNSECURED WI-FI. This includes the library, the free wi-fi at restaurants, libraries, hotels or anywhere else. This also applies to your cell phone. Use the phone line, not the wi-fi. If you use wi-fi, you might as well write your credit card information on your forehead.
4. Don't use a debit card or account routing number for your transactions. Stick with a credit card or Paypal. They provide protection for bad transactions.
5. Make sure you only enter financial information into encrypted sites. Look for "https" at the beginning of the URL and a closed padlock on the lower right corner. It should be on every page that asks for personal information.
6. If the site is loading slowly, don't resend information on the order (financial information etc) by pressing "send" again because you may end up buying more than one of the product. Be sure to check your receipt and print it. Check that receipt against the one in the shipping box when you receive the item. If there is a discrepancy, call the vendor immediately.
7. If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is. If you aren't familiar with the vendor, check for reviews. This is especially true if you came to the website by clicking on a link. Use Google to look up the business. Also, be careful what you are clicking. Watch out for peripheral ads or links through emails. Be very wary if you see you are being redirected as the website is loading. You may just be bait for phishers or inviting key stroke loggers over for dinner.
8. Don't buy things online this week unless you are getting FREE SHIPPING. Everyone is offering free shipping and the difference of paying for shipping can quickly turn that great price into a bad deal. Also, make sure the item is in stock and an estimated delivery date. If the item is out of stock, find out the estimated availability date and try to reserve it without paying now.
9. Think about setting up a new email before you start shopping. The email addresses you enter at those websites will be flooded with advertisements. Most are probably legitimate, but if you use the same email for important communications, you won't want to wade through hundred of emails a week to find the important communications.
10. Don't feel pressured to buy NOW because the price seems really good. You may miss the best deal, but if you aren't sure you want or need the item, it's not a good idea to buy it. Everything will be on sale (and should ship for free) until December 15.
Shopping for the "best" deal can be tedious and you may waste a lot of time to save pennies. Here are a few "deals" I found tonight, but it literally took me a couple of hours. Stick to the main retailers (Amazon, Walmart, Target) for most items, and a few other specialty retailers.
X-Box 360 console - $189 at Walmart
UGG Boots - Chestnut short Women $131.71 and Kids $101.00 at shoes.com
Master Moves Mickey $48.85 (Amazon & Walmart)
Fisher Price Jake and the Neverland Pirates $39 (Target, Walmart, ToysRUs & Amazon)
(Don't wait too long for the toys because they do sell out)
Good luck and happy hunting for the great deals!