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How To Buy DVDs, TVs, PCs And Other Gizmos

Jan 16, 2008
After a car and a house, electronics are often the most expensive goods we buy. People crave them, yet they go obsolete so fast. So how can you save some money yet still get the latest gear?

1. Buy The Second-From-The-Top-Of-The-Range.

The top of the range is the most expensive by a mile. It's also probably not much of an improvement on last year's best. Manufacturers work to 'add value' by changing specifications unnecessarily. This is so they can sell to neophiliacs i.e. people fixated on having the latest product.

Also, the latest thing may have some bugs. If you get something that's been around a while, either the manufacturer will have corrected these, or enthusiasts will have discovered word-arounds.

2. Buy Second Hand.

Electronic goods depreciate in value the moment you buy them. Even if they're perfect, you can often buy them second-hand for a third less than cost price. Source them online at sites like Craigslist, Gumtree or eBay, or check your local classifieds.

3. Buy Local.

If you have free online local ads, you could place a 'wanted' ad for the item you want. You can determine the price you're prepared to pay by checking other ads for the same item. Offer a little more than the average, and the offers should come flooding in. This has worked very well for me in the past.

Otherwise, check the local 'for sale' ads. If the price is near the second-hand standard for the item, pay it. Don't haggle. This used to really irritate me when I was a seller. I used to put the price up a few quid just to let hagglers beat me down!

Try to buy near where you live. Then, if there's a problem, you can take it back.

4. Buy Name Brand Items.

No-name cheapo brands will lose their resale value fast. It's all about marketing. A name brand will likely have more support and be more reliable. This is especially true of electronics. There are cheap Third World knock-offs of every successful Western good you can think of, even batteries!

5. Find Independent Item Reviews.

Go to a search engine and type in the item name, model number and the word 'review'. You may find that you're onto a good thing, or that there's a better model available.

Product comparison sites are good for this. You can read what real purchasers of the item think about it.

6. Pay By Credit Card.

If you can, pay by credit card e.g. online. This puts an extra layer of protection between you and the vendor. If you get ripped off, you can instigate a charge-back.

7. Avoid Buying From Abroad.

The postal costs will be high. They are more likely to be scams. You'll not be covered by your country's consumer laws. You'll have to wait weeks for the item. You may have to pay import duty. If you have to post it back, it'll cost a fortune. If it's damaged, and you have to post it back, you'll have a long wait before you get a refund.

Using the tips above, you should be able to get a bargain easily. You can then annoy your friends by telling them how much you saved in comparison to their shop-bought, over-insured ripoff!
About the Author
Niccolo Svengali is the webmaster of electronics, health and education web sites in Palermo, Sicily.
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