Why discount websites might not have the best deals

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stylish woman shoppingIt’s hard to resist those super low prices, right? But the truth is that those popular discount websites might not have the best deals.

I know, I know! The prices are so, so low! And it looks exactly like what you saw at the mall or on Pinterest last week. But before you grab for your credit card, read on for some things you might want to consider.

What you see…. might not be what you get

If you work with computers, you’ve probably heard the term WYSIWYG (pronounced “wizzy-wig”) which means “What You See Is What You Get. That might work for graphic artists and web designers, but when it comes to deep discount sites, the opposite is often true. The pictures they show may have been altered. The clothes may be tucked and gathered where you can’t see it in order to give an appearance of a tailored fit. Or the the item might be something else entirely… a “similar” product to what they’ll actually ship, but in a different shade, with a different pattern or even from an entirely different manufacturer!

Unlike legitimate ecommerce businesses and catalogs, these sites are all about fast. Fast load, fast clothes, fast sales. Never mind the omissions, mistakes and misleading images. They just want clicks and sales.

Discount websites work on the law of averages and high volume

Most of the discount sites you’ve seen rely on two things to survive: high volume and a low likelihood that even dissatisfied customers are unlikely to send items back or demand a refund. That means that a relatively low margin can add up to a whole lot of profit, even though their products are subpar or not as advertised.

In other words, they know they’re selling junk… but they’re counting on you not doing anything about it!

A subset of this group are those site that make it dang near impossible to contact customer service, make a return or get a refund. It might be that they don’t offer any information about how to contact them (phone number? Nope? Email? Not there either. Mailing address… not unless you stumble on the right page, buried deep, deep within the site). Or maybe they have so many restrictions on returns that it’s almost impossible to qualify.

So when the purse strap falls off or the zipper on the pants fails, you’re left literally holding the bag, with no one to contact.

They’re not focused on return shoppers

Remember the high volume mentioned above? Those sales generally aren’t coming from repeat customers. And that’s just fine with many low cost consumer sites. They’ve built it into the business model. Get a lot of people to shop once, then move on to a different group of people and do the same. Complaints and satisfaction just don’t matter. They’re not planning on reaching out to past shoppers, because they know it’s unlikely most of them would shop there again.

They use loss leaders to get you to spend more than you planned

Sure, the price on that TV is lower than everything you’ve seen. So how come you just spent twice that? It wasn’t an accident. Many companies use loss leaders to pull you in, then pile on the accessories you just have to have to use the first product “properly.” Or they get you to click through on one item, and then use the site to inch you up to much more expensive versions that have all the bells and whistles (or the right designer name) you didn’t realize you absolutely HAD TO HAVE until they told you so.

The price is cheap, but getting it is not!

The chair of your dreams. And only $100! So cheap that you just can’t stop yourself from putting it into the shopping cart. But at check out, the game begins. Of course, you want stain protection, right? It’s only a few dollars more. And those cheap legs might scratch your floor, so you’ll agree to upgrade to the soft glide feet. Hey, it’s cheaper than a new floor. Do you want it “secure wrapped,” whatever that is? Sounds important, so okay. And then the shipping. Fast, super fast, tomorrow, or sometime next quarter. Guess which one is the free shipping they mentioned on page one? You got it. So you up the shipping (and handling? What the heck is handling? Isn’t that selling?), and all of sudden your $100 chair is now ringing up at $235.89. Plus tax. Welcome to the discount zone…

They might not, ever, ever send it at all!

How can it be? A scam on the Internet? Noooooo! Well, yes. And it happened a lot. Expect a few “we’re out of stock messages.” Maybe an “Your order is important to us” email. Then silence. And the site is down. And the PO’d consumer site is suddenly filled with angry rants from the other 16,000 people who wanted the “deal” but never got anything except a wasted spend.

A trusted vendor is usually your best bet

Instead of falling for fast-and-cheap, you’re usually better off shopping with trusted vendors who care about their reputation and want to keep customers coming back again and again. Sign up for their mailing lists, download their apps or subscribe to their catalogs, so you can stay up on the latest deals and offers. That way, you’ll save money on something you can actually use and love, instead of sending the cheap version off to the landfill.

by Catalogs.com Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman