Five things to know when you Shop
Are you a shopaholic? Has this addiction got the better of you?
Then you are not alone. Many people are over indulgent when it involves shopping and can be a very costly past time or pleasure. We in Sri Lanka have not yet felt the pinch to the paunch. One reason may be that we have very deep pockets and it takes a big financial recession to figure out that we need to do something about it. Striking a balance in this area is a necessity and not an option. With the Financial downturns in America, EU and certain other Asian markets, people are making drastic changes in their buying habits and styles of living. Sooner or later you may have to do just that and having some guidance is certainly not a bad idea.
This article caters to the average shopper or consumer. So be indulgent, but do it in style and with cost efficiency. Here are some Tips, Tricks and a few Traps that one should be aware of in these dark days and especially when on a shopping binge.
1.Know exactly what you need
Most purchases are made purely on emotion and what appeals to the eyes. Few persons will give the mind the chance to intervene. Since our wants are endless, we need to limit our purchases only to our needs, whilst, letting go once in a way to be self indulgent if that makes one happy. It is also known as retail therapy. What do we consider prior to making the decision to make a purchase?
•List out the cant-do-without items and indicate approximately the maximum one is willing to pay for it.
•Have a definite fixed budget in mind or else you may end up buying all the needs at exorbitant prices.
•Prioritize the list based on the parameters that matter to you
•Arrive at the Specifications (SPECS)
•Compare and contrast the SPECS, Brands, Makes, price, quality, options, and features. (Refer the website –www.ColomboLivingGuide.com or Hit Ad for starters)
• Get professional advice if possible for items of a very high-tech nature or reliable recommendations from persons and friends whom you can trust.
•Weigh the Pro’s and Con’s and arrive at a decision as to what you really need to purchase.
TRAP: Remember that many professional buyers spend their Company’s money very carefully, much better than their personal purchases.
2.Have a good Strategy
Remember the saying:”If you don’t have a plan it will fail even before you start”. That maxim is very true. A good strategy is handy at all times. What do you need to do?
•Do some window shopping without your credit card if possible.
•Do not shop with confirmed spend thrifts- that’s your down fall. Go at it alone if that’s has to be done.
•Leave your kids at home. They can exasperate you to the giddy limit.
•Start from the shop or outlet that you would last think of buying from or from the lower end market.
TRAP: Park you vehicle nearest to the shopping mall or outlet to ensure you have your hands free. Shop owners look out for this vital sign know your buying power at sight thus hindering your negotiations.
3.Lookout for the Trade Offers
Ladies love this part the best – getting the best deal in town- and there is always a trade offer for the taking. What sort of trade offers are the most common?
•Buy one get one free
•Interest free installment plans
•Quantity or price discounts
•Special Offers (Close-to-expiry offers, almost rejected items, out-of-style items, ill fitting clothing)
•Always ask the vendor for the current Combination of Options, trade offers, and discounts. Remember that this information is on a need-to-know basis and if you are the smart consumer you can force them to give you the best.
TRAP: Take care with items on promotion. Not all promotions are advantageous. Also take care if there is no pre-printed MRP by the manufacturer (maximum retail price) on the items. The vendor has a free hand at pricing and usually includes the discount into the net price)
4.Always inquire regarding Warranties and Guarantees
Very few people care to understand the difference between a warranty and Guarantee. Here are some Tips, Tricks and Traps that you need to keep in mind:
Warranty: A warranty is an assurance or pledge by the manufacturer of a manufactured item for a definite period of time. It may include the whole unit or specific part of a unit. The manufacturer also agrees to repair, replace or return the cash for an item under warranty if the defective item is returned during the warranty period.
Guarantee: A guarantee is an assurance or pledge by the manufacturer of a manufactured that the item or product is manufactured with a specified minimum quality or properties and adheres to a specific commonly accepted manufacturing standard.
Since warranties or guarantees issued by each manufacturer may be different, and risks / conditions are dependent on the declared documentation. The details of warranties and guarantees need to be checked for any subtle exit clauses that the manufacturer’s lawyers may have discreetly included to the advantage of the manufacturer.
•Location of purchase is very important (Items purchased in Singapore may not have a global warranty / Guarantee)
•Ensure that the warranty or guarantee is applicable to a particular location / country and there are appointed agents.
•Even though there are agents in a particular location or the item is covered under a global policy, the costs related to the shipping, packaging and clearing of the item may incur additional expenses which the buyer has to bear and it may be that the shipping related costs may be more than the cost of the purchase value.
TRAP: Duty free shops in certain lands would be the last place where you may want to make your purchase as those shops cater to low value customers who are not particular about quality or value for money since they would not understand it anyway. In actuality, such duty free outlets sell items more or less the price you could get locally with other benefits as well.
5.Get the best use of Credit Cards
Who can do without plastic money these days? Having a couple of credit cards in your wallet is not a bad idea if you are the SMART consumer. How smart are you?
Let’s check this inventory:
•If you are a Credit card fanatic well make the best use of what is on offer
•Do a study and you will realize that the chances of getting rewards for the purchases made on a Platinum Credit Card is higher than that is offered to persons who have Gold credit cards. Especially on purchases made over a certain value at Supermarkets such as ARPICO, KEELS, CARGILs and the like.
•Have a separate Credit card with a low credit limit value of Rs. 25,000/= for on line payments for periodicals, books, subscriptions and software downs loads which will limit the financial risk in case of phishing.
•Annual fees are waived off by certain banks on certain types of Credit Cards
•You can get more credit points by pooling purchases on behalf of your other family members or reliable / creditworthy friends. At times, free mileage is given for Airfares paid through certain banks.
•Purchases carried with your Credit Card have side benefits such as free expenses statements, transparency, and monitoring of expenditure.
•Helps with your cash flow. Those who have secular employment can claim the expenses up front and settlement of credit card balance is up to a maximum of 51 days after the purchase. This is rather tricky, and not for the novices.
•Do not lose sight of your credit card ever.
TRAP: Certain outlets (especially smaller outlets) carry as much as 5% added tag price for credit card fees. The banks collect a fee from the vendor who passes it on to the buyer. So first inquire and ensure what the cash price for the items purchased it the rock bottom price inclusive of the cash discount and compare it with the net price paid with all the offers, tradeoff, discounts and varied options. I like to remind you that this exercise may be mind boggling.
For those who are shopping fanatics please visit this site: www.consumerist.com
Of course the content on this site has to be fully localised and that is time consuming.
What is given above are somethings I myself have picked up along the way.
Last edited by Rocky on Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:34 pm; edited 1 time in total