Tag Archives: holiday shopping

Online Holiday Shopping 2016 – Fake Apps & Online Stores

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Courtesy Stuart Miles

Holiday shopping for the best deal is a chore. Like most smart shoppers you use whatever tools you can find to get that great deal. But avoiding holiday scams is a real job and you have to be alert. Fake shopping apps and online stores are making your job a lot more difficult.

The holidays offer cyber criminal a great opportunity to fool customers into downloading malware . Once this malware is on board your computer, laptop or smartphone it can easily steal your personal and banking information. Criminals can and do create perfect replicas of popular brands and websites that draw unsuspecting customers to their site or mobile app.

A recent FBI press release warns consumers about fake app scams. These scams are often disguised as games. But don’t be fooled by fake apps that mimic well-known brands like Nordstrom’s and Nordstrom’s Rack, Dollar Tree, Dillard’s  and other popular stores and websites. Smartphone users can be fooled into downloading the app and then connecting it to their Facebook account or email. Like most things connected to Facebook the victim willingly  gives away personal information. These apps can also infect your phone or tablet with malware.

Just because you downloaded an app from the Apple App store or Google Play do not assume that you are safe. Recently Apple found and removed hundreds of fake shopping apps from its app store.

Chris Mason, co-founder of Branding Brand warns consumers to look for red flags before downloading shopping apps.  Warning sign of a fake app include typos and run-on sentences in app descriptions. Mason says to look beyond a brand’s logo when you download an app from Google Play or the Apple Store. Don’t download the first one you see. Check customer reviews for poor or one-star reviews or numerous user complaints about excessive advertising. All these could be a red flag that the app is fake.

There are also FBI warnings about fake deals from unfamiliar sites. The holidays are prime season for fake pop-up websites. And these sites are not so easy to spot. Cyber criminals are extremely clever at making these stores look legit. According to Inc.com these fake sites price most products competitively, but you can also find ridiculous deals designed to entice shoppers. Regular priced items mixed with the unbelievable deals make them look like a real store. But remember two things; “If it looks to good to be true it probably is,” and just because a store shows up in Google search doesn’t mean it’s legit.

 

Online Holiday Shopping 2016 – Best Gift Card Sites

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Photo courtesy of Nirots

There is a magical gift that, no matter what, is always exactly what the person wanted or needed. It is adaptable to any situation or occasion. This gift can be from the recipient’s favorite store or any store anywhere. And this gift can purchased for less than face value.  What is this super gift? The gift card of course!

One of the best gift cards to give is the reliable VISA ,MasterCard  or AmericanExpress Gift card. These three are perfect for gift giving because they can be used anywhere the credit cards are accepted and some are even re-loadable. How can you possibly go wrong when the gift card can buy anything from auto parts to nice dinners to clothing and jewelry. Using these cards as holiday gifts is a no brainer.

But should you have someone with particular tastes or if you know there is some place they get a special kick out of shopping then you can buy specific store gift cards. Almost every store provides gift cards and the top gift cards of 2016 can be found by clicking here.

And since this is the giving season lets look at the top gift cards sites. As I always say, “Black people don’t play when to comes to money!” So for African-Americans looking for the best deal on holiday gift cards there are a few sites you need to check out. These sites sell gift cards for below face value and these deals can save you some big money.

gift-card-granny-logoLets start with GiftCard Granny. The most amazing thing about GiftCard Granny is that you can actually download the Chrome extension and the apps for Apple and Android devices. GiftCard Granny offers over 150,000 gift cards from just about every store you can imagine and the discounts are nice. As much 20 percent off in some cases.  You can also sell your unused gift cards through the site. 

 

 

ebatesNext up is Ebates. This is another superstore of gift cards and they advertise discounts of up to 30 percent. And yes there  are thousands of stores and millions of cards to choose from. The deals are there but… You have to surrender your email address to even shop there. The site won’t even let you browse without surrendering some data. A definite turn off during the holiday season and good reason to move on to other gift card sites. 

 

raiseRaise.com is yet another excellent discount gift card website. This site lets the buyer shop using several parameters that include price, card type (physical or electronic),  and about twenty different categories of gift cards.  And if you are in Chicago you can check out the specials there as well. I am sure more cities will be offered soon. But trust me they have all of the major retailers  and hundreds of other specialty store and restaurants from Taco Bell to specialty steak houses. Right now it is also offering a new  sale section for additional discounts.

 

cardcashCardCash.com allows the user to buy and sell gift cards with awesome discounts.  And CardCash offers a 45 Day Buyer Protection Guarantee against those ever present holiday scam artists.  This site also allows you to search by physical or electronic cards and numerous different categories. You can find discount cards for hotel stays, restaurants, even frozen dinners. Here you can find gift cards discounted as much as 30 percent.

 

whizwalletWhizWallet.com offers discount cards from numerous different sites. According to their website they aren’t following the model that other sites use. Sites mentioned already buy and re-sell the gift cards. But WhizWallet compiles the inventory of the best discounted gift card sellers.  Using WhizWallet can help the customer find the right credit card, buy retail cards and discount cards. As always the selection is pretty expansive and you are bound to find the store you are looking for.

 

giftcardsGiftcards.com is another excellent gift card site that offers several different cards from various stores and providers. This site allows the user to even customize the gift card for special occasions. Y0u can get eGift cards delivered to your smartphone and again, every store is represented.

Holiday season is extremely busy and stressful for everyone. Trying to find the right gift for someone special can be a real headache.  But a gift card can definitely help. You literally have millions choices from stores to locations to type of gift. There are gift cards that allow you to give some special person a cruise or a vacation if you have that kind of money. May we suggest a Neiman Marcus Gift Card?

 But you may still need a little help. So WalletHub has released 2016’s Best Gift Card List  to help you choose. You can also check out their 10 Tips for Getting the Best Gift Card.

Finally, some people say that gift card are lazy gifts and seem impersonal. But research indicates 42 percent of Americans appreciate gift cards and cash over being mis-gifted. 

ALERT! – Amazon Email Scam – ALERT!

amazon-logoCyber criminals are sending out fake Amazon emails telling you that there is a problem with your order.

Customers are being told to resolve the problem by clicking on a link to confirm certain information. The scam warns victims failure to do so will freeze their Amazon account. 

The email directs people to a replica Amazon website. These websites are excellent forgeries and can fool even experts. It makes it very easy to fall for the scam.

Once on the fake website the customer/victim is asked to input personal information. When customers/victims have entered in their details, they are asked to click a ‘Save & Continue’ button. This then takes them to Amazon’s official website making it even more difficult for most people to suspect or detect any fraudulent activity.

Don’t fall for this scam. If you receive this email contact Amazon customer support to check your account. Do not click on any link in the email and don’t use the phone number in the email. That could be the scammer as well. Even if the email is real you are better off being safe than sorry. You can learn more about this scam and how to protect yourself by visiting Get Safe Online.

Online Holiday Shopping 2015 – Shopping While Black

canstockphoto18667912Racial profiling is a reality. People of color have suffered from the idea that we are untrustworthy and dishonest by nature. Nothing could father from the truth. As a result of this hideous myth black people are more likely to be wrongly accused, wrongly prosecuted and wrongly convicted. And even with a trillion dollars of consumer buying power we face racial stereotypes even when spending our money. Its called shopping while black. The result is that many black people have taken to shopping online.

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you shop being black is a negative mark against the African-American consumer. Notable African-Americans including Oprah Winfrey and Condolezza Rice have been mistreated simply for shopping while black.

Milwaukee Bucks forward John Henson dropped by a Schwanke-Kasten jewelry store in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin shopping for a Rolex watch.  The staff of the store reacted to the tall black man by refusing him entry into the store and calling police.  The police verified Henson’s identity but the store employees still insisted that the police supervise the professional athlete while he shopped.

The sad truth of this is that research indicates that black people are no more likely to shoplift than any other ethnic group. Statistics indicate that shoplifting is spread fairly evenly across all colors and economic categories. 

A recent Gallup poll revealed that African-Americans felt  more discriminated against while shopping than doing anything else. Twenty-four percent said they experienced discrimination in a retail setting, compared to while eating out, 20 percent, at work or during police encounters, 18 percent, and while obtaining health care ,12 percent.

Blacks have moved their shopping online to avoid the hassle and embarrassment of dealing with race while shopping. African-Americans are more likely to shop online using mobile devices than other racial groups. So the move to express our buying power online was a small one. However it should be noted that the overall trend among consumers is to shop online. African-Americans continue to be the fastest growing demographic of online shoppers.

African-Americans are savvy shoppers. According to Experian black people are deal seekers and 28 percent more likely to respond to social media advertising and 14 percent more likely to use social media to tell friends of products and companies they like.

Black people are also more likely to shop online using a mobile device. African-Americans have a higher mobile aptitude compared to other groups and use their mobile devices, smartphones, to comparison shop, to price match and investigate products. And after all is said and done African-Americans are actually more likely to buy online.

A 2013 report from Adweek showed black people shop online more than other groups. According to the magazine higher income African-Americans shop online in record numbers. Half of black people surveyed made at least 30 percent of their retail purchases online. And at least 22 percent of high income blacks made at least half of their retail purchases online.

Holiday shopping is bad enough without being treated suspiciously when you walk in a store. A trillion dollars in buying power is nothing to laugh at. Using the Internet permits black people to shop and buy with dignity. Blacks are showing our willingness to stay away from brick and mortar stores when we feel we are not being treated properly.

 

 

 

Online Holiday Shopping 2015 – The Death of Black Friday

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Courtesy Stuart Miles

Everyone has a story about Black Friday. Sometimes its about a great deal on a flat screen TV or a horror story about the ugly crowds and inhuman behavior. Thankfully Black Friday is dead.

More and more online retailers are offering Black Friday deals throughout the holiday season. Amazon, one of the worlds’ largest online retailers, announced it’s Black Friday Deals Store . The store is open for all Amazon customers but Amazon Prime members will get a 30 minute head start on 30,000 of Amazon’sLightning Deals.”

On of the biggest selling items during the holiday season is consumer electronics. Everyone is wishing for a giant flat screen television, laptop or tablets and other electronic goodies. Online retailer Newegg is one of many retailers killing Black Friday.

Newegg is calling this month Black November as it prepares for the holiday season war for tech dollars. Although the company has not announced specific sale details it has outlined plans to kick off deals on more than 900 products that include sales all through the month and more deals on Cyber Monday.  Retailers are jumping on the band wagon describing their holiday sales plans minus details but with promises for more specific sale information later.

America’s store, Walmart, is also offering Black Friday prices online including Apple products like the iPad Mini. The trend for many retailers is to get Black Friday deals into the stores as early as possible for as long as possible. Smart shoppers will be walking the aisles early in November and getting the same or better deals than people waiting in line at 4:00AM Friday morning. The best deals with the best selection and availability are being offered now!

Black Friday is not what many shoppers believe it to be. First of all most deals on this ugly shopping day are extremely limited in price and quantity. For example last year a major retailer advertised a Black Friday sale on a particular microwave oven for $99 when the regular price was well over $300. Thousands of people lined up all over the nation for the bargain. The harsh reality is that each store was allotted only 15 of the appliances. Consumers who read the fine details of those sales flyers will see the disclaimer “limited quantities” written in small print.

Another Black Friday deception consumers need to be aware of is the inflating of prices. Many retailers will offer products at inflated prices only to slash the price on Black Friday creating the illusion of a great deal.

Retailers are well aware that many shoppers running through their stores looking for a great deal will find something they did not come there for. Impulse buying is a big money maker and the more eyes in the store the more items will be sold.

Most of the best Black Friday sales will be found online. TheBlackFriday.com website has an extensive listing of stores and products that are selling at Black Friday prices today! Shoppers can sign up for Black Friday price alerts sent to their email.

Another website pushing early Black Friday deals is BlackFriday.com (different from the one above). This site also offers pre-Black Friday prices for products and advertisement for online sales and email alerts as well.

DealNews.com offers list of the Top 5 Best Black Friday Deals Online that is heavy with the electronics retailers but of course Walmart is among the five.

Holiday Shopping; Now you know.

App of the Week: Cash Dash

FindSave-app-for-iPhone-and-Android-phonesIts the holiday shopping season and as I have said before merchants are waging all out war for your shopping dollars.  Wal-Mart is matching Amazon.com’s and pretty much everybody else’s online prices. Price matching is a common weapon retailers aim at each other.

The app of the week is Cash Dash and it is the latest weapon in the retail arms race. Wanderful Media, creator of the couponing app Find&Save that located coupons for stores near you has announced they have a new twist on the concept. The Cash Dash app basically lets retailers push promotions at you the minute you walk into a competitor’s store or even get close to one.

It really pretty simple; lets say you’re at Wal-Mart, Target would use the app to offer you a $25 incentive to visit one of its stores within 24 hours. This is retail war and the goal is to steal shoppers away from the competition. “When you’re walking into a Home Depot on Saturday morning, your intent is clear,” says Ben Smith CEO of the company. “You’re in home repair mode. That would be a very valuable audience for Lowe’s.”

The app uses your smartphones GPS location to track you. But instead of offering coupons at the store you are shopping at the app tries to send you to the competition. If you accept the offer and make a purchase you submit a photo of your receipt using the Find&Save app. The cash reward goes into your PayPal account. According to Smith the next version of the app will connect to users’ credit cards, and subtract the dollar amount automatically from the purchase.

CashDash has only been available for three weeks and already some 50 retailers have jumped on board. Retailers such as Walgreens and Macy’s, are spending the money to send these notifications and poach the competition. Over 100,000 alerts have been issued since the app launched. Smith claims that about 30 percent of shoppers who receive an alert actually click through and accept it.

Cash Dash has even changed how users feel about having their location tracked. Before the app was introduced only 20 percent of users opted into geolocation. That number has now reached 80 percent. 

The only drawback to the use of the app is the competition’s store may be too far for the shopper to visit. Experts believe that the app would work much better in densely populated areas where the competitor’s store is easier to reach. But the cash incentive could make the drive more palatable.

Retailers are at war and you win anyway you look at it. Cash Dash is available for Apple and Android.

Online Holiday Shopping Series #3

Its the holidays and the one thing just about everybody will be doing this season is eating, drinking and shopping. African-Americans love a good holiday meal with friends and family. The only way to improve upon this holiday joy is to get the ingredients for a great meal for a substantial savings and possibly even get a little money back.

There are a lot of coupon apps available and all of them can help you save a few dollars on your holiday grocery shopping. What you have to understand is that some are easier to use than others. And some deliver more savings and bigger rebates than others. All these apps work a little differently from each other. To choose the best app consider your shopping habits and style and where you shop. These are some things you need to consider before you choose a shopping app.

  • Where you live should be considered before you select a shopping app. Different apps offer coupons at different stores. Some regional and national chains may offer their own shopping app. So consider an app that works in your area and in stores you normally shop. Making a good choice and having success using an app to get coupons will depend on the supermarkets in your area and your shopping list.
  • Paper coupons still rule. Don’t ignore your local newspaper or coupon flyer. Smartphone apps aren’t all about delivering digital deals. Sometimes they can help point out online or newspaper coupons that you have to print or clip. Consider that a lot of apps can deliver coupons to your email inbox.
  • Mobile coupons are similar to paper ones. Digital coupons, sometimes in the form of bar codes will help you save on the same products as paper ones will.
  • It pays to be loyal. Digital coupons often work very well when they are linked with your store loyalty cards. You can link the coupon to your card and get the savings when you scan at check out.

In this article we are going to highlight money saving grocery apps. Saving on groceries should be a key priority for black households every day and not just during the holidays. These apps can help you do exactly that.

Ibotta –  The Ibotta app provides rebates on many retail items at both national and regional grocery stores.

Once the app is downloaded the user will be asked to complete small tasks that provides the rebates. Unfortunately these tasks include watching videos, taking polls, playing trivia games, and learning facts about products. These tasks could save you as much 75 cents on items and change frequently. It can be a bit of a headache and inconvenience in my opinion. But it could pay off bigger than playing Candy Crush.

You can find offers of rebates on items such as milk, fresh meats, salad, frozen dinners, ground coffee, and even some generics.

Here is another thing about this app I am not a big fan of. After you do your shopping you verify purchases by uploading your receipt using your smartphone. Another way to verify your purchase is to link your grocery store card to the app. Basically its another way to collect information about your shopping habits, the things you buy regularly and where you buy them. Its not that great of an intrusion into your privacy since you have one of those grocery cards any way. Its just means you are sharing your info with a few more data collectors.

After you have earned $5 in rebates, you can have the cash transferred to a PayPal account and continue to accumulate the savings or you can use it to buy a gift card from various retailers. You can find the list of Ibotta Preferred Partners here.

Ibotta is available for Apple and Android devices.

 

Checkout 51 I call this the “checks-in-the-mail” app because of the way it delivers your savings. Checkout 51 works differently than Ibotta. Every Thursday morning this app offers a new list of 20 or so items. These offers include rebates on fresh produce like tomatoes, strawberries, and bananas. Best thing about it is there are no tasks to complete to get the discounts but you do have to upload your receipt to the app. You can shop at any store where the items are sold.  And when you reach that magic $20 mark in savings you get a check in the mail. Checkout 51 is available on Apple and Android devices.

ShopmiumMuch like Checkout 51 the Shopmium app offers rebates that can be redeemed at any store where the products are sold. Rebates range from 25 cents to more than a dollar. Like the other apps you have to verify your purchases by scanning the products bar code and uploading your receipt to the app. Your rebates are deposited into your PayPal or bank account and there is no minimum before you get your money.

Shopmium offers regular as well as exclusive offers to its users. According to the website, “Shopmium’s offers are only available to ours users: you won’t find them anywhere else and they’re the most advantageous on the market. They are private offers, available in every store the product is sold.” Shopmium is available on Apple and Android devices.

Cellfire – One of the cool things about this app is that it works by sending coupons directly to your loyalty cards. You just add your store loyalty card to the app.  Use the app to browse the available deals and tap on the ones you want. The deals are then saved to your store card and savings delivered at check out. It is almost effortless in the way it works. However easy this app is to use the one drawback is that the list of stores is limited. But count yourself lucky if there’s a store near you. This app is well worth it.

I give this app the privacy edge because you can use it without registering. But if you do register members get access to bigger, better deals. Another cool thing is on the website you can find both digital and printable coupons and you can have the coupons emailed to you. The app also offers a nice feature that allows you to get store alerts reminding you of coupons when you walk into a store. The app is available on Apple, Android and Blackberry devices.

Coupons.com – Coupons.com is the big man on campus when it comes to grocery and everyday items. The listing of items on the home page seem to never end. A great benefit of this app is that it makes it easy to access the deals on the go. The app delivers a coupon in your e-mail to be printed. Your tablet or mobile device can also be used to print out coupons if you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch and certain HP printers, or, and this is the most convenient, added to your store loyalty card to scan at checkout. For Apple technology owners this app has some special features. You can browse digital coupons from select retailers such as Old Navy and Petco then add those coupons to your Apple Passbook app. Just show you phone at checkout to get the savings. Coupons.com apps are available on Apple and Android devices.

Grocery IQNow here is a an app that can really be useful. Why? Because most people buy the same thing over and over again. We all have some brand we are loyal to and wouldn’t think of switching or even trying something else.  With Grocery IQ you begin by making your shopping list then saving it to the app. Grocery IQ  will match your list with applicable coupons. You get a few options to add items to your list. You can type them in, scroll through the master list and select them, scan a bar code, or speak them. This app shares the same data base with Coupons.com and you get them by printing them out or linking your loyalty card. But be prepared to spend some time getting it all set up. Available for Apple and Android devices.

SavingStarLogo – This app allows you to  register your loyalty cards then browse a list of exclusive offers. Some of the deals offer as much as $5 off and if you see something you like you just tap on the “I Want This” link  and scan you store card when you check out. But you won’t get any money off your purchase at the register. Instead the savings builds up in your SavingStar account. When you hit $5, you can select how you want your money from one of four options; bank deposit, PayPal deposit, Amazon gift card, or donation to conservation group American Forests. The app usually offers  about 30 deals at any time and works with lots of grocery chains, including A&P, Kroger, and Pathmark, as well as with CVS and Rite Aid.

You are  going to be buying a lot stuff this holiday season. You may eat too much but these will keep you from spending too much. But like so many other things worth having you have to do the work. These apps make that work a lot easier and can actually put some money in your pocket.

Now you know.

 

 

Online Holiday Shopping Series #2

canstockphoto15907634If you plan to shop online this holiday season you need to get a battle plan together. Saving money is not always made easy for you but if you develop a strategy and method to stay up on the latest sales it could pay off big…really big.

Step 1) Set up an email box strictly for your shopping information. Don’t use your own personal email unless you love getting a lot of spam. Stores love to get email addresses and they also love to email coupons. Also make an effort to follow your favorite stores on their Facebook or other social media site. Another really cool thing stores will do is announce sales and discounts only through email and text messages. If your name is on the list you can can get some nice additional discounts on sale items. This is a favorite tactic of Stein Mart stores who regularly issue incredible savings coupons on the Internet. You have to know where to look for them so click on the link to see what I’m talking about. You can sign up for coupons at stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, JCPenny and many more. 

Coupons are just the beginning of the benefits of signing up for email alerts and coupons. Last year a major electronics retailer offered flat screen televisions, any size, for half price on a certain day of the week. If you were not on their email list you never knew about it. This beats the hell out of waiting in line at 5:00AM on Black Friday. Of course the number of sets were limited in each store but the deal was a great one if you knew about it.

How about being invited to an exclusive sale?  Last holiday season a popular retailer of women’s’ plus size clothing held an after hours sale exclusively for people who responded to an email. The sale offered items for as much as 70% off. You missed it didn’t you?

You don’t have to do this alone. Ask a friend or two to join you using that special email box. Each of you should sign up for stores you all enjoying shopping at. Keep each other informed about sales and monitor social media for sales as well. You never know when Macy’s may Tweet a sale.  Work as team and you could end with a pretty good repository of sales and coupons. And its good all year long since stores hold sales all year round.

Step 2) Focus on price matching. If you find an item at one store for less than another then you can ask the store to sell it to you for that price. Even if they don’t do price matching they very often say yes. Here is a list of stores that have excellent price matching policies. What is great about this is that some store will even match the online price. Check out this list of stores that match online prices.

Step 3) Learn the best shopping apps and load them on your smartphone or tablet. VentureBeats.com offers this list of the 8 best shopping apps. One of the great things about some shopping apps is they they can do a lot of the work for you. Although we will focus on shopping apps later in this series you need to read up on them now before the shopping season gets intense. A good shopping app can do things like watch the price of a item for you and alert you when it drops to a certain level. Some apps go out on the  Internet and find the item at a cheaper price. Other apps will monitor sales at certain stores for you. Apps are amazing and can help keep a few extra dollars where they belong and thats in your pocket.

Step 4) Pick your days carefully. Believe it or not the best day to shop is not black Friday or Cyber Monday. How about Thanksgiving evening? Research indicates that instead of watching football you may want to get online to shop for those Christmas gifts.

As long as we are on the subject of Black Friday sales I’ll let you in on a little secret. First of all the best sales are not on Black Friday. As matter of fact if you wait those same prices will re-appear either online or at the store. Second, there is an extremely limited quantity of those incredible sale items. For example if you see a 50 inch flat screen television advertised for dirt cheap you can bet there are a very few in the store. Check the ad and you will see the word “Limited Quantities.” So get some sleep and preserve your dignity. Black Friday sales are not all that great. You can see a list of 16 Black Friday myths right here.  

Finally, there is a rule of thumb that I would like black people to keep in mind this Christmas shopping season; Its not what you make but what you keep. These tips are intended to help you keep your money. Regardless of what or who you are shopping for there is no reason to pay too much. I have the privilege of knowing a woman who I call the Discount Diva. You could say she is a professional at finding the sale for exactly what she wants even after she has already purchased it. Its amazing but I have seen her go into a store and come out with money. How? She is a practitioner of finding the item she has already purchased on sale for less than what she paid for it. She then goes back to the store with her receipt and asks for the difference. And most times the store will refund the difference. Its amazing but it is an excellent example of how a good shopper works. I urge you, this season, be that shopper.

Now you know