Top Tips for Irish Consumers from Alexia Golez

With thanks to, and courtesy of Alexia Golez of Golez.net (@Twitter), here’s the sixth article in our series of Top Tips for Irish Consumers:

  1. Buying refurbished/clearance items saves – If you want value and are willing to buy a nearly new gadget, then refurbished is the way to go. Look for refurbished and clearances gadgets on your favourite online stores. Some of the bigger gadget superstores like the Apple site have sections where they stock refurbished Macs and iPods. Ignoring the recent kerfuffle over calling consumers idiots, Komplett also have a growing a clearance subsite.
  2. Shop for discounted hotel rooms – Online hotel and flight booking sites can give you a massive discount when traveling, with rooms in some top hotels fetching less than 50% or more of their original price. Hotwire.com works great for this. While it doesn’t tell you the name of the hotel you are booking until after the booking is made, it does give you a description, a location and a star rating. You get a good idea of where you are staying.
  3. Watch your wishlist items – Sometimes, just to keep an eye to on. I do this by setting up a Google Alert. If I was interested in a new Blackberry Bold, I could set up a Google Alert for it. I would get news items and blog posts results sent to me in an email or in the format of an RSS feed. It might seem like information overload, but you really get a feel for hands-on reviews from owners – benefits, potential problems, news on updates. If the product is a gadget or a product that goes through often product refreshes, then you might find out when the successor product goes on sale. Pick your time right and you can get a great deal just before the next wave hits the shelves.
  4. Sign up to newsletters – Online stores love sending out word of upcoming sales or promotions in newsletter mailshots. Sometimes they send vouchers or inform subscribers of special after-hours shopping discount events in-store. I like to keep a mailbox dedicated to online newsletters, so as to keep my main mailbox as free and lean as possible. Keeping a mailbox of newsletters that constantly come in is a neat way to track what your favourite stores are doing.
  5. Ask your friends, look for recommendations – Sometimes the best people in the world to ask for tips are your friends. A friend’s recommendation on value for money or service holds my highest respect. If they have similar interests to you, chances are they are shopping for the same kinds of products. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I’ve received a mail from a friend with discount codes for in-store sales or online shopping. Start teaming up with your friends to tip each other off on sales or recommending shops that go the extra mile for your business. Soon enough you’ll have highlighted out the best places to shop.
  6. Enquire for promotional deals for hired items – I’ve found that some car hire deals for 2-3 day stays work out way cheaper even if you only want to hire a vehicle for a single day. For example, I was recently pricing a car hire stint in France for a single day. I browse the car hire specialists pricing for just a day’s hire and was surprised to find that two and three day deals that were way cheaper than a single day’s hire. It’s worth asking suppliers of hired equipment if they have a special deal for hiring. You can always return the equipment after a single day (early) and still avail of the deal you once you have bought the deal.
  7. Scout for free wifi points – When out and about I like to maximise the value of my Internet-connected devices by using free wifi spots. Of course, there are all the usual suspects you can connect to – Eircom hotspots in and around phoneboxes and such. But if I’m out and about in a strange city, I try to look up crowdsourced maps where people mark free wifi spots. For example, the Londonist has an excellant map of free wifi in London. Another thing I really like about these maps, is the sense of community spirit in projects like this. If I find a new spot, I can help out other people by markng it for them.
  8. Use employer discounts – Loads of employers have deals carved out with shops, hotels and restaurants for their employees. Ask around work. Perhaps HR can point you to a resource where employee benefits are published. Log on to the internal company sites and scope out the details. There’s no point of ignoring a gift in the hand, right?
  9. Be cheeky and ask for discounts now and again – So, your employer doesn’t have a discount scheme? Just ask stores for discounts anyway. It really works. I don’t do it half enough. I know some people that shop this way all the time and it works for them. If you’re a full-time student at a third-level institution, don’t be afraid to flash your ID card and avail of all the discounts while you can.
  10. Try out the discount supermarkets for off-the-wall gadgets – The Aldis and the Lidls of the world often stock basic, but curious non-brand gadgets. At this time of the year, electronic dictionaries and popcorn-makers make excellent mini stocking fillers. Big kids can’t fail to be excited over automatic corkscrews and ice-crushing machines either!

The complete series listing of Top Tips for Irish Consumers is now available here.

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