Expect to Pay Less: Web entrepreneurs say we’re getting soaked

More and more investors seek bargains; they look for things on the cheap.

Indeed, individual investors increasingly turn their backs on Wall Street and its often outrageous products. They buy low priced index funds directly from the fund company. They bypass the “financial intermediaries” (brokers). These are the sales people pushing high priced funds. They often drive big cars and hold fancy press luncheons with the bills passed on the people who buy their funds.

I Want A Discount—-a Big Discount

So why not do the same when you go shopping for other things?

That is the argument of several web entrepreneurs. They claim many big retailers are making a living owing to consumers’ old ways of spending. They say the over reliance on brand names costs consumers a bundle every year. Using the heavily advertised national brands means the consumer often pays too much.

“There is an abundance of products on the market that appeal to consumers with flashy advertising and convenience, which drives them to spend too much money and results in high prices,” according to Paul Johnson, CEO and founder of Snagshout. He describes Snagshout as a social deals website.

How much can one ultimately save by adopting this “I expect deep discounts” approach?

“It really depends on how aggressive you are,” he adds. “If you spend a bit of time shopping around, you can often get things for free or sometimes 90 percent off.”

Are You Sleepwalking When You Shop?

Johnson and other web entrepreneurs tell consumers to wake up and smell the discounts: Look around. Low cost sellers on the net often are available directly and can save people thousands of dollars, or perhaps more, over the course of a year.

Let’s take cellphones. The big boys of the cellphone business, say officials of GIV Mobile, are often overcharging for long-term contracts or high prices to use their phones.

Why?

It costs them on average $300 to $400 to acquire a new customer. With us and with smaller companies, we can do it in between $20 and $100, GIV Mobile officials say. They complain that the biggest companies pass on high costs, but smaller companies can save customers $20 to $30 a month.

By the way, they have documented their claims with a website called yourwirelesscompanysucks.com

Paging Movie Buffs

Often movie houses have promotions or coupons, but you get them by signing up for the mailing list such as Cinemark. If you search the net, you’ll find companies ready to offer free movie tickets in exchange for participating in various purchase or promotion plans. Sometimes these offers only require a person signing up for a free newsletter or agreeing to take a survey. For example, Fandango.com has a part of its website devoted to free movie tickets and special offers.

Is Your Cable TV Company Ripping You Off?

GIV Mobile officials advocate ditching cable television and watching shows exclusively through streaming services such as Amazon, Hulu Plus and Netflix. That can save you $100 a month from the average monthly cable bill of some $125, according to moneyunder30.com.

Not sure you want to go that route?

Call your cable company, net entrepreneurs say, and tell it you’re thinking of canceling. One can often negotiate a better deal.

Students Pay Through the Nose and Some Don’t

Instead of buying techbooks new, one can visit sites such as CampusBooks.com and buy new and used ones at deep discounts. The website reviews the offers of thousands of sellers. It compares sale prices of new and used books as well as rental and e-book offers.

How much can one save by adopting this “I expect deep discounts” approach to buying?
“It really depends on how aggressive you are,” says Snagshout’s Johnson. “If you look around, you can often get things for free or 90 percent off.” Johnson estimates that Snagshout customers are reducing their yearly bills for everything by about 75 percent.

Be Demanding

The bottom line is you are the CEO of your money. And people should have to work hard to get your business. And when they take your business for granted, remember this: There are usually lots of places that sell the same item you seek.

So you are not married to one store or website or seller of almost any product or service. No matter how satisfied you may be with a service or store, remember things change. Some companies are improving. Others are going downhill. But, whatever the situation of a company or seller, you deserve the best quality service at the best price.

Expect it.

About The Author

Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent business journalist from Queens, New York. His Personal Finance articles have appeared in publications such as The New York Post & Financial Advisor Magazine. He is the author of the eBooks “Personal Finance For People Who Hate Personal Finance” and “MoneySense”.