Where Can I
Find a Good Store?
When I ask my search engine for sites that
deal with a particular type of product, I get thousands of hits and most are junk.
What to do?
How do I find more stores?
Is there a Better Business Bureau online?
Where can I find the store with the lowest prices for my particular
When I ask my search engine for
sites that deal with a particular type of product, I get thousands of hits and most are
junk. What to do?
Thats one reason we put our book together, The Best of
Online Shopping. We went through these enormous site lists, seeking out the best
stores, so that you wont have to waste your time clicking, going, backing up, and so
on through a dozen sites, just to find one that is actually a first-rate store.
Search mechanisms are still extremely crude. If a site mentions the topic, bang, there
it is on the list of results. You have no easy way to distinguish the good from the bad,
the stores from the personal sites, the high school class pages from the Australian
community council pages. Result: You may waste a ton of time going to sites that turn out
to be absolute duds.
Even using the so-called advanced searches, you get piles of junk. For instance, if the
search mechanism lets you specify a word that must NOT appear on the page, as a way of
filtering out crummy sites, you have to imagine all the words that bad sites will use but
good sites will omit.
And when you try to figure out words that must ALSO be on the page, along with the
product name, you can try secure (on the theory that only a real store will mention
its secure server), but you cant be sure of order, purchase, or even shipping,
because those all appear on sites that are nothing but online catalogs.
The bad news is that even advanced searches cannot pinpoint your products Web
stores, and nothing but.
How do I find more stores?
Sometimes you are after a very specific item that most shops dont carry, or you
just want to do some more comparison shopping.
Then, if you still havent quite found the shop you want, try the shopping lists
at major portals (look under Shopping).
The portal staff have selected their own favorites, or, in some cases, their partners.
But remember, these sites are not necessarily the best, or even the most popular, stores.
They may actually be a) ones that have paid to be listed or b) ones that have come up
highest on the search results, a dubious distinction.
Remember that these long lists are just links to stores; the list servers themselves
offer nothing for sale. If you have stamina, though, try any of the following lists:
About.com (formerly The Mining Company) at http://www.about.com
All Internet Shopping Directory at http://www.all-internet.com/
Buyers Index at http://www.buyersindex.com/
Excite Shopping at http://www.excite.com/shopping/
Go To at http://www.goto.com/
HotBot Shopping Directory at http://www.hotbot.com/shop/
Lycos Shopping at http://www.lycos.com/
Shopfind at http://www.shopfind.com
Snap at http://www.snap.com/
Yahoo Shopping at http://shopping.yahoo.com/
Is there a Better Business Bureau
Yes. You can get BBB information two ways. If you can locate the home address of the
company, go to the BBB Web site, at http://www.bbb.com,
and look up a bureau near the company (see Locate a BBB). You can contact the local office
to get a free report about the company, telling you how long it has been in business,
whether the BBB has fielded any complaints about the company, and whether or not the FTC
or a state Attorney General has moved against the company during the last three years.
The BBB has an online division, called BBBOnline at http://www.bbbonline.com/
They have set up some criteria a company must meet before it can put up the Better
Business Bureau seal on their site. The company must have been in business for a year,
have a plan for resolving complaints fast, correct or withdraw misleading Internet
advertising, and post the companys phone number and email on the site, along with
the name of at least one company official. When a company meets these standards and earns
a "satisfactory" rating, it can put up the BBB seal. The BBB Online folks run
periodic surprise checks to make sure the company is still following the rules. If you
click the seal, you get a Reliability Report on the company, direct from the Better
Business Bureau; that report will show whether or not there have been any complaints.
Where can I find the store with
the lowest prices for my particular product?
In any product category, there are usually three or four stores contending for the
crown of Bargain Basement.
We have discovered that no one store has all the lowest prices. For one product, one
store wins; for another product, another store wins.
But the difference between the low-price leaders is usually less than a buck, up to
$20, and less than $5 on items costing between $20 and $75.
Then there is usually a cluster of stores offering good discounts but not the best. You
may want to shop at these stores for reasons other than price: they often offer more
information, better service, better shipping, more guarantees, whatever.
And finally there are a few stores that show no interest in giving you a good deal: we
have usually dropped these places, unless they have items no one else offers.
There are a number of services with robots that go out on the Web and look for lowest
prices. Most of these services do not actually look at every shop on the Web, but instead
scan a few dozen sites, all of which are known to offer good deals.
You type in a product, and they respond with a list of all the stores (in their group)
that sell the item, with the current prices.
Youll find quite a range of prices, even though all are lower than retail. For
instance, a music CD may be quoted as $11 from the least expensive store, and $18 by the
most expensive in such a table. If price is all you care about, though, you can find
todays lowest price at these sites:
Bottom Dollar at http://www.bottomdollar.com
Compare Net at http://comparenet.com/
Killer App at http://www.killerapp.com/
My Simon at http://www.mysimon.com/
Price Scan at http://www.pricescan.com/
Price Search at http://pricesearch.net/
Price Watch at http://www.pricewatch.com/
The View at http://www.the-view.com/shopper.html
Also, About.coms guides list stores they
like, in their subject-matter area, which often covers a lot more than your particular
product. Some guides even comment on the prices, too, telling you which stores offer the
best and worst deals, at http://www.about.com/