Deal or No Deal? 3 Common Shopping Traps to Avoid

shopping traps to avoid
Damian Dovarganes/AP
Consumers have to be on their toes. All the time.

We all want shopping deals, and retailers are quite tuned into what makes us want to buy. The key is sorting out what's really a deal and what is really a "deal."

Is shopping at an outlet store always a bargain? No. In fact, it's rather common for outlets to stock stuff that never even went to the company's regular stores. Savvy shoppers know when they're finding a real deal. The rest of us need to watch out for when we're being tricked.

Consumer Reports' ShopSmart magazine in its September issue reveals what it found after sending an expert around to identity some of the "latest bum deals." Here are three:

Mattress Sales

Retailers often have to deal with minimum prices set by the manufacturers. So, one way they make their sales seem better than they are is by creating an inflated "regular" price.

ShopSmart's advice: "Never take the promise of huge savings at face value. Always comparison-shop. Also, always try to negotiate."

Penny Auctions

On such sites as DealDash and QuiBids, consumers are enticed by what appear to be super-cheap deals. But, ShopSmart warns that while "penny auction" sites can be alluring, there are hidden charges. Unlike on eBay (EBAY) and other traditional auction sites, these sites charge for bidding in advance. If you don't win the bid, you lose.

ShopSmart's advice: "Think of these sites strictly as entertainment -– like gambling –- not smart shopping. Or just skip them."

Sneaky Discounts

Most of the time, when a consumers comes across a deal that is advertised as "buy two for $5," it is safe to assume that buying one will cost $2.50. But that assumption could cost you. Sometimes the deals are contingent on buying more than one item. That has to be disclosed, but isn't always that obvious.

ShopSmart's advice: "Look for any fine print on the sale sign, and watch the cash register."

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Introduction to Preferred Shares

Learn the difference between preferred and common shares.

View Course »

Goal Setting

Want to succeed? Then you need goals!

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Best advice ever ~

Read the 'small' print and pay good attention to the cash register. I've found numerous times that the cash register is not always up to the latest cost breaks that are advertised in other parts of the store or even in the ad paper.

You have got to look out for yourself as no one else will ~

August 25 2014 at 5:39 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

And the biggest all-time trap is --- making a habit of recreational shopping for all that stuff you don't really need, but are still buying because you are bored.

Stay away from outlet malls. (The outlet stores are loaded up with old merchandise that "name" department stores couldn't even clearance out the door. So they dumped the losers at outlet malls.)

Stop going to retail stores and/or surfing internet retail websites to see "what's new". That's a really expensive hobby to have.

Say NO to "retail therapy". You will be very surprised to see how much money you will be able to save if you stop the mindless shopping habit.

August 25 2014 at 12:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply