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Daily deals not always a deal

By Naomi Mannino ·
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Posted: 12 pm ET

I've always wanted a set of Ginsu knives because of the way the guy slices that tomato after sawing through the lead pipe, so when I saw a set on a recent daily deals email, I thought I was automatically saving money on it and almost hit "buy" before I thought about it (and who hasn't?). Well, I found out first-hand that not every "deal" is that great of a deal, as family finance expert Ellie Kay points out every single time I interview her for shopping stories. "Just because they say it's a deal, doesn't mean it really is the best price you can get," she says.

The Ginsu knife set deal for $35 plus $5.95 shipping is the same 14-piece Ginsu knife set sold elsewhere online for about $10 cheaper at $25.99 plus $4.99 standard shipping. So I didn't need the "buy now" pressure of the daily deal to save money after all.

A quick online price check search for some other recent daily deals on deal websites such as Gilt Groupe, Groupon Goods, RueLaLa and Ideeli found that some items are specially grouped for the deal site and cannot be price-matched, such as Stonewall Kitchen sets or GoSmile teeth whitening sets. A Delonghi Kmix two-slice toaster was actually $1 more on the deal offering than elsewhere online. Shockingly, the same Jean Dubost Laguiole 6-piece steak knife set in pearlized ivory is offered on the deal site for $149.90 but sells elsewhere online for $69.95!

Other deals such as one on Black Faith boots from Chinese Laundry for $39 (valued at $79.95) and a Crosley Solo CR221 radio/MP3 player for $49 (valued at $130) proved that sometimes the daily deal is the best price you can get, but sometimes the discount percentage may be overstated. The cheapest regular price found online for the radio was $73.99 instead of the deal's stated $130 value, bringing the savings percentage down to just under 25 percent instead of the advertised 62 percent savings.

How to suss out a great deal:

  • Check how items are shipped and check variable shipping costs which affect your final price.
  • Understand return policies. You may have to pay more for return shipping or you may only receive credit instead of an actual reversal of the charge.
  • Double-check prices and values online before you click "buy" to be sure you are saving money.

Have you ever bought a "deal" and then kicked yourself later when you found it elsewhere for less?

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