Essential Reading: Bargain Fever

Bargain Fever

With the holiday shopping season coming up, learning some tips on smart shopping is key. My good friend and fellow writer, Mark Ellwood has his first book coming out called, Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World. This amusing investigation into the world of bargain hunting will make you think twice about ever buying full price again. As Mark told me recently, “Nobody should ever pay full price for anything ever again. The system is designed for you not to pay full price. It’s easy and fun to pay less.” This comes from the man who nearly spit out his drink when I told him I bought an umbrella from Barneys, which I then took to a bar, got wasted and lost.

We asked Mark to give us a rundown on tips for dudes to remember when on the hunt for clothes, hotel rooms and those illustrious sports tickets.

– Looking for a bargain makes shopping more guy friendly. You get to haggle! It’s not about frou frou, it’s about negotiation. Men love games and shopping is now like a sport. It’s about how much I can get off and how to do it. Take note: It’s not about being a dick head.

– Men are good at bargains because of the way they shop. Men buy in bulk. Any time you buy more than one item you should ask for a discount. You don’t say, “Give me one or I’ll walk out.” Instead say, “Hey, I’m buying three of these, can you work with me?” They usually will give you 10% off. It’s exactly how you should shop.

– Men shop online much more than women. They see the shirt, they buy it. Shopping online always allows you to get a better price.

– Practice ‘Cart Abandonment’. Pick something out, put it in your cart and close the window. This is the worst thing for a retailer. Within 48 hours you will have a reminder that you forgot those items and they will offer a discount to close the sale.

– A favorite new app is Poachit.com. It is a tracking device you install like StumbleUpon that lets you know when items go on sale or coupons are available. For instance, I went on Orvis.com and ‘poached’ a Barbour jacket. There are no coupons for the item but Poachit will let me know when the item is found cheaper either at Orvis or on another site.

-Another is Shopittome.com. You sign up,  choose what you like in your sizes from your favorite brands and they will email you when that item is up for discount.

– On airline tickets: We are used to playing around with airfares when booking travel. Guys enjoy travel. We are used to playing around with airfares. Always use a new browser window when checking flight prices. Cookies and other tracking devices can mean the prices go up once you show more than passing interest in a route. Alternatively, if you’re using Google’s Chrome browser, open an Incognito window.

-When booking hotel rooms check for the BAR, Best Available Rate. That is the lowest price a computer allows for that room to be booked for that night. If you know the hotel you want to stay in, call the front desk and as for the BAR. All hotel prices are taken care of by some huge ‘Hal’ like computer that is way smarter than we are….

-In electronics stores most gadgets are displayed in a trio. This is called ‘Goldilocks Pricing’. One item will cost $300, the next $400 and the other $500. Always buy the cheapest item as there is usually very little difference in all three, but we always tend to buy the middle one to feel safe. See, you just saved $100.

-Sports tickets are getting more and more expensive because of dynamic pricing. Luckily, there is a new site called CrowdSeats.com. It offers tickets 90% off.

-The apps in the discount/sales category are not worth toying with. They are surprisingly glitchy. TheFind.com isn’t bad. You scan a bar code and it will check the price online. But what is happening is that retailers are taking the bar codes away.

– Here is a trick for outlet shopping: Photograph the label of the shirt you already own and love. Then match it to the ones at the outlet mall. Many times products are made exclusively for outlet sales and will be poorer quality and have a slightly different label. They also don’t want you returning outlet items to regular retailers.