Archive for the ‘Online Shopping’ Category
I recently met with Financially Fit and Savvy Spender host Farnoosh Torabi to talk about The Best Places to Buy Outdoor Furniture.
The biggest outdoor furniture trends now include
1. Quantity Shipping Discounts: This is a great way to save some money when buying some great outdoor room furniture suites.
2. Shorter Shipping Time: Some retailers have recently dropped their shipping time by stocking this seasonal furniture. Consumers are now less willing to wait all summer for their outdoor furniture to arrive than in years past.
3. Polyurethane Resins and Other Protective Coating: A growing trend in the outdoor furniture industry is furniture that can withstand the weather, year round. Storing furniture inside isn’t an option for many people, especially those who don’t have the proper storage space inside their homes. Weather-proof fabrics, like Sunbrella allow cushions to stay outside in even the worst weather without getting damaged.
WHAT KIND OF STATEMENT ARE YOU TRYING TO MAKE WITH YOUR NEW HOME? DOES YOUR HOME TRULY REFLECT YOUR OWN TASTE, OR SOMEONE ELSE’S?
Through all uncertainties of the real estate market and the economy you might say that home decor has changed for most homeowners. Stodgy, impractical and stuffy furniture of the 70′s and 80′s, the look of our parents’ generation, has given way to more functional, comfortable and affordable fashions. Picking up the basics at places like Costco and fashionable, urban, flea markets, have become the norm.
MY FAVORITE FREE RESOURCES TO HELP GET IDEAS ABOUT FURNISHING YOUR HOUSE EXACTLY TO YOUR LIKING
- Dwell( ideas for a more efficient house, soup to nuts)
- Reader’s Digest (decluttering ideas–fresh and new ideas that will make your life a lot easier)
- Oprah Home (multiple choices displayed for every piece of furniture you will need)
- Martha Stewart Home (smart, fashionable choices for each room in your house)
- Homeportfolio.com (lists thousands of choices of products and design ideas, and links to the sites where you can buy them–saves huge amount of time)
- Lesliehindman.com (great Chicago-based auction house that offers monthly auction in a wide variety of styles, periods and prices–take advantage of the great auction prices right now)
- Designspongeonline.com (perfect place to get ideas that are well thought out and executed-no need to hire a designer if you go to this site–artistic, creative, easy to use and fun!)
- Decor8blog.com (special finds and secrets from around the world, for all the little details of your house, with links to the nation’s best stores, all in one site)
- Freshome.com (displays latest design and function characteristics for every piece of furniture you buy)
- Trendir.com (the latest in materials, colors, textiles, trim)
- Homedesignfind.com (beautiful layouts of entire room designs–great place for room design ideas)
- www.houzz.com (best ideas for rooms, places to shop, color schemes)
CAR RENTAL COMPANIES HAVE INCONSISTENT BILLING PRACTICES
Though I typically don’t have a need to rent cars, I did so recently on a few different trips. My experience with Budget made me want to never rent another car again, and this isn’t the first time that my credit card meant carte-blanche to the car rental company.
CORPORATE CAR RENTAL OFFICES VS. FRANCHISE OPERATIONS
Apparently, when you rent a car from Budget, Hertz, Avis, etc., you are possibly renting from the parent company. However, plenty of franchise operations, privately owned and managed, rent out cars under the names: Budget, Avis, Hertz, etc.
AIRPORT CAR RENTAL AGREEMENTS
Once you book a daily car rental rate online, over the phone or through your travel agent, you must sign a contract at the airport. This isn’t easy to understand, because the rental contract invariably adds airport fees, etc., that you may not have seen on the quote. Then, of course, the car style you expected to rent is probably not even available anymore. You are now forced to spend more money and get a bigger, fancier car; or shift down a gear and get a more modest car that costs almost the same as what you expected to rent.
After signing the contract for the car rental, and hopefully not for additional insurance, a big money maker for the car rental companies, you get to check out your new car. In my case, I was given a van that had 25,000 miles on it and seemed very worn out and dirty on the inside.
But before I could leave a little inspector man came out and asked us to look over the car, as he quickly walked around our car and told us there were just a few little scratches on the bumper—he put the little sketch of the scratches on the contract, mumbled a few words in broken English that we didn’t understand, and sent us on our way, as there was a huge lineup of cars trying to leave the Vancouver airport. I looked closely around the car, and pretty much agreed with the inspector, but it was dark in the garage and we were feeling the need to get out because of the long line of cars behind us. The kids were getting antsy.
Continue reading »
As featured on KPLC Louisiana
When doesn’t free shipping mean free handling? As confusing as this sounds, many retailers are offering free shipping promotions, as I’ve learned, this holiday season. Recently, I received a web promotion offering free shipping at Eddie Bauer. I was at the checkout section when I learned that the retailer was going to tack on a $3 handling fee. I thought, “Wait, isn’t handling part of shipping? When isn’t it?”
NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH
Unfortunately, this is only one of the tricks retailers are using this season to make you think you have gotten something for free, when in reality, the charge has been added somewhere else.
Even if the web’s fine print tells you about these “extra” handling charges, separating out shipping from handling is something that we don’t usually consider. When was the last time you were charged for handling separately from shipping, but told you were getting “free shipping?”
CALL CUSTOMER SERVICE
Customer service departments don’t like to receive these kinds of calls questioning these trivial charges. But how else will retailers know that this is not a common charge for a “freebie?” In my case, I was not given an answer as to why I was being charged the $3. . . something about paying taxes on this order, but I explained that I had already paid the taxes. If your retailer of choice won’t hear your complaint, consider calling the Attorney General’s office for your state. In these trying times, retailers don’t want to lose you, but don’t be fooled by the jargon.
If you are shopping for a mortgage now, you have probably discovered that getting a mortgage just isn’t as easy as you thought it might be.
TRENDS IN THE MORTGAGE MARKET:
- Both the 15-(5.42%) and 30-(5.88%)-year fixed rates have gone down by about ½% point in 1 year.
- The mortgage crisis began in 2007, as people failed to pay their loans. This quarter, alone, 900,000 homes are going through the foreclosure process, and home values are the lowest they have been since 2001.
- Loss of jobs—in March, alone, the economy lost 80,000 jobs.
- If you had an ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage), you paid a low introductory rate, but rates have soared after 2-3 years, making it harder to pay your mortgage. EX: If you have a $200,000 mortgage and your introductory ARM was at 4% at closing, it might be 7.5% now, after the adjustment period. This costs you almost $400 more per month. Continue reading »
FED UP SELLER ON EBAY? GONE ARE THE DAYS WITH UNLIMITED SELLING OPTIONS
Having done countless segments on eBay and other online selling/buying venues, I decided to open up an account. Easy enough, right? Wrong. After spending a day creating an account, creating a Paypal account to accept and send money, you must wait to be approved, and then spend an additional day teaching yourself how to use the eBay machine.
WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW: EBAY IMPOSES SUBJECTIVE LIMITS AND CHANGES THE RULES AS YOU GO
EBay welcomes new sellers and allows you to get started listing your items for sale. Upon creating listing pages with your items for sale, you may get a rejection notice at the end of inputting all of your information about the item, which could take the better part of an hour, between uploading pictures and creating meaningful descriptions.
WHY EBAY REJECTS YOUR ITEMS FOR SALE AND RANDOMLY IMPOSES NEW RULES AND LIMITS
Early into the process, I was informed that I had listed too many handbags, and couldn’t list any more handbags for 90 days. If I had known that upfront, I would have been more careful in my selection of what to list. I did not have that luxury because the door had been shut on me. Try again…
So I decided to begin listing some designer clothing. Much to my dismay, and after spending countless hours, collecting goods, photographing, inputting great and descriptive listing pages, I was again booted, with a message telling me I had reached my “limit” of listing designer pieces. What limit? Was it a quantity limit or a dollar amount limit? Apparently, it was both. Unbeknownst to me, I called eBay. I couldn’t get any legitimate answers from any rep, until I got through to about a fourth rep, who said I should definitely be allowed to increase my listing limit to $8,000. Why did that rep allow a huge increase in my listing limit? The rep told me that listing limits are subjective, and made by the reps at eBay. So he advised me to continue listing.
WORKING AROUND THE EBAY LISTING PROBLEMS
EBay would not allow me to continue listing, again saying I had reached my limit of listing “designer” items in a certain time period. I didn’t get it. So I tried to list the items without mentioning the “designer” names. I was again booted for “misrepresenting” the eBay item. I still didn’t understand, so again, I contacted eBay. They told me I would be booted for the next 90 days because I tried to sell another designer item.
When asked why the limits and subjective rules, I was told that the eBay “legal department” imposed these limits, which “are the law”, after people tried selling Tiffany and other designer names, but those items turned out to be fakes. They are trying to impose limits to cut down on those practices.
This is a decision eBay has made, which has nothing to do with the law, and actually hurts those with excellent selling histories and track records. Too much hype has been made on eBay between sellers and buyers about giving each other excellent reviews. But many of the transactions have not been excellent and one side or the other has fallen short of being completely upfront in their transactions.
EBAY NEEDS A NEW WAY OF EVALUATING SELLERS
The 5-star eBay reviews seem meaningless today in the world of eBay. My daughter, Bailey, told me that she heard several people were selling Xboxes on eBay for $25. When the buyer would receive them, they were merely boxes with the letter “x” on them. That is fraud. But there are really wonderful sellers, with in-demand merchandise, who are pointlessly being booted from eBay.
EBay needs a new system that is fair to all listers, and is expressed at the top of their home page, with no ambiguity or confusion on the part of buyers or sellers. Why are some given unlimited opportunity to sell and others are not? I have no idea.
Christmas is here again and it’s time to start thinking about how we are going to decorate our homes. Over the past five years the Christmas industry has seen a dramatic shift in what people are buying in the way of trees and lights.
More people shop on the internet today for Christmas trees, both fresh and artificial, because it saves time. Saving time is also a reason why more people today are buying artificial trees. When it comes to Christmas tree lights LED lights have paved the way for a more energy-efficient, longer-life bulb.
DECIDING BETWEEN ARTIFICIAL AND REAL TREES
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, the association that has given a tree annually to the President and first family since 1966, approximately half of all people buying trees are buying artificial trees. However, Rick Dungee from the NCTA (National Christmas Tree Association) says that the “traditionalists will always prefer a real tree, in its look, smell and touch, to an artificial tree.” Continue reading »
Shopping online for furniture has become a huge business. Over $1 billion has been spent on online furnishings in the past 12 months. But consumer feedback has been mixed. Here are some things you should know before shopping online:
- Many stores don’t allow you to return the item to the store, itself, because they may not sell the product at the store. You have to send returns to a return center. Many of the big box retailers require that you send your purchases back to this return center. This makes it difficult to exchange an item or get your money back.
- Some furniture web sites send furniture in hundreds of pieces. Ask how many pieces will come in the box. Also ask if you can see a diagram describing how to assemble the piece. Online furniture can be very inexpensive if you have to basically construct the whole piece, yourself.
- Comparison shopping online is difficult, because like with mattress companies, different stores use the same vendors but call the pieces different names. Continue reading »
Publisher: Chicago Sun-Times
Title: Safe Shopping
Author: The Fixer
Dear Readers: For those of you opening your wallets in stores or online for the holidays, here are some tips from Steve Bernas of the Better Business Bureau and consumer advocate/author Jennifer Litwin that might keep you from winding up in need of The Fixer’s help:
- Pay with plastic. If you end up having a problem with the product or service, you can dispute the charge with your credit-card company.
- Check out return policies. Many retailers are tightening up and allowing only in-store credit, but no refund. If you’re buying presents soon, some stores’ return periods will expire before the holidays even get here. And, most important, remember that returns are a privilege and not a right, and not all stores offer them.
- Don’t open the box unless you’re sure you won’t have to return it — especially with electronics. Continue reading »
THE LATEST CHANGES IN ONLINE SHOPPING ARE UPON US!
The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) website Shop.org has compiled a fascinating list of how shopping online will change this year through “The State of Retailing Online 2008: Marketing Report”. You need to know how companies will try to sell you more. Social marketing is on the rise, repeat customers will benefit from shipping deals and e-store discounts. Internet shopping is not carefully regulated so you’ve got to avoid being harassed by these e-stores, and know how to successfully shop online.
SHOP SMART ONLINE AND KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING YOURSELF INTO!
- Paid search and email marketing surging—most popular marketing avenues for online retailers
- Though most companies are unsure about the effectiveness of social marketing they are diving into it
- Catalogs are the next biggest expenditures this year after email lists
- From 2007-2008, online shopping grew from $175 billion to $204 billion, despite bad economic conditions
- Fastest growing sector of online sales come from computer-related purchases
- Apparel sales up $3.9 billion this year/figure likely to rise at a rapid pace Continue reading »