Monday, November 29, 2010

General Statement about Buying #3

Third in this series, this post tells you how to get free shipping at almost any online store! There are several ways to go about doing this, some easy and some that require more effort.
  1. Shop at stores that offer free shipping on every order. Shoe stores usually fit into this category.
  2. Use a free shipping coupon code. If you're lucky you can get these in the form of an email from the store. The email will usually read something like "Free shipping on any order, no minimum! Use code: FREESHIP10" Another way to find a code is to look at coupon websites. Some worthy of being mentioned:,,
  3. But what happens if you find a code, but there's a minimum. You can only receive the free shipping on orders of $50 or more, for example. RELAX! Don't worry if you don't plan on purchasing stuff for that amount! Here's an option that will work if the store you're shopping at has a B&M (brick and mortar) location near your location. Make a purchase for the full amount (throw in stuff you don't need to bring your total up to the minimum), and then return the extras to your store! You will not have to pay for return shipping this way. This is an excellent idea when you shop at places like Gap, Old Navy, DSW, Macy's, American Eagle Outfitters, and other stores with many B&M locations. Recently, the Gap stores have added a "free shipping on every order" to their website, but there is a minimum of $50. This idea will help you squeeze around that clause.
UPDATE: Seems to me that Lands' End has had enough with the free shipping. Their offers still include free shipping benefits, BUT with a minimum order. You might still want to take advantage of the offer, so remember to go with option #3 in this post!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - Cashback from your purchases

  • Receive a percentage of your purchases in the form of a check.
  • Many stores participate in the Ebates program.
  • Just for signing up and making a $20 order, you get to choose a giftcard from a selection of stores.
  • You get $5 for every friend that you refer (and has made a purchase).
  • Some of the most popular stores don't participate in the Ebates program - namely and
  • There's no phone number to call if you've got an issue.
Bottom Line: Ebates is an awesome, scam-free way to make money while shopping online. While you're anyway buying stuff, it doesn't hurt to earn some extra dough for a future shopping spree! Here's how it works: You sign up and choose a gift card. Then, any time you are ready to checkout on a store's site, check to see if the store participates on Ebates. Click the store's name (while on and it will transfer you to the store. Then, complete your purchase. Each store gives you a different amount of cashback. Cashback accumulates in your account until you have over $5, and they will mail you a check every 4 months. You can also earn more by referring friends directly on Ebates - each friend who makes a purchase gets you $5 in your account! 

iRiR's experience with Ebates: I bought an $1100 computer on MacMall which gives 3% back. I made $33, which let me buy accessories for free.

Some popular participants in this program are: eBay, half, Shoebuy, Old Navy, GAP, Apple, J&R, Lands' End, Target, Barnes & Noble.

Remember, check your store to see if it's on! 

Sign up today and see if you can beat my current total of $250+ earned on!

Monday, November 15, 2010

General Statement about Buying #2

Second in this series, this post highlights a very important point that may cause some people to think "Duh!" and others to think "Huh?"

Gift cards are free money. If used correctly, they can do amazing things! If you got a $10 gift card, for example, you have two options of spending the money:
  1. Go to store, find $10 worth (or more) of merchandise, present gift card and, if necessary, pay remainder.
  2. Go to store when there's a current promotional event, find $30 worth of stuff, present $10 off $30 coupon, receive 50% off, pay with gift card.
In the second example, you're tripling the value of your gift card! So my point is, wait until there's a sale at the store you're planning on shopping at, and then use your card. It's a good idea to check the expiration date on your gift cards because some store cards don't last longer than a predefined time. Keep your card handy so it's accessible when you want that slick deal. By the way, the same applies to other forms of free money, such as reward certificates, cash cards, refund checks, etc.

How iRiR maximized $20: In October, I was mailed a DSW Rewards certificate valued $20. I wanted these really cute slippers that cost $34.95. Using a 30% off promotional code, I brought the total down to $24.47. Shipping was $7.95 (the free shipping code only applies to orders above a minimum), and the subtotal was now $33.09 including tax. Then I applied a $5 off coupon and my $20 Rewards certificate, and the grand total was $8.62!!! Postscript: I ended up receiving the order with a small problem and was ready to exchange them. They didn't have my size so I was offered a partial refund of $8.62. I argued with the sales rep that I should really be getting $20 because they should refund my costs, not my shipping charges! I got what I wanted :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

General Statement about Buying #1

Just a tip for the wise shopper, so listen up! Companies will always tell you, "If you're not 100% satisfied let us know and we'll issue a full refund" or something to that effect. In truth, companies have a set amount allotted for such occurrences. That's why it's your duty, as a buyer, to make sure you receive everything you deserve to. Sometimes you'll have to raise the sympathy-evoking tone a bit.

There are several possible outcomes for complaining: (a) full or partial monetary compensation (b) full item replacement (c) full item replacement but you have to ship the old one back (d) no response. If you see the customer service rep is banking on Choice C, make sure you stress that it's impossible for you to send it back (i.e. I threw it out already, It will cost too much to send back).

Examples of experience with such situations:
  • Glaceau: My Vitamin Water drink had white-ish gunk on the bottom that kind of made me nervous. When I called, they explained that it's perfectly safe and mailed me a few coupons.
  • American Greetings: I bought a birthday card for a friend and it had a spelling error ("truely" instead of "truly"). They apologized and sent me a coupon for $7 worth of AG product.
  • Del Monte: Can of mixed fruit cocktail should have contained pears, pineapples, peaches and grapes (as per label) but only contained grapes and pears (oh, and one chunk of pineapple). Received many coupons.
  • Colgate: Colgate 360 Toothbrush bristles fell out after 2nd use. Got an impressive stack of coupons for assorted Colgate products.
  • Ralph Lauren: Nightshirt sleeve disconnected from body after approximately five washes. Got to keep nightshirt (which can be sewn on) and received a $20 gift card (valued more than the item).
  • Crayola: Markers got dried out too fast and the black marker was really dark grey. They sent me a coupon to buy the same stuff again.
  • Epson: I opened a brand new package of glossy photo paper and there was a hair embedded underneath the shiny coating! Received shipment of a brand new package instantly.
  • JC Penny Photo Studies: The woman at the desk treated me like dirt. I got reimbursed (by the manager) with several free photo sheets for my next photo session!
11/15/10 Update: I bought slippers from and ended up paying only $8 for the item (the shipping cost). The stitching was undone by the time I received them so I called DSW. Since they didn't have the pair in stock anymore, I asked for a refund - they gave me $20! Hence, bringing the shoe cost down to $-12. 

Tell me about your own experiences!