Price-comparison sites make online shopping easy
HOUSTON But shopping around, even in cyberspace, can be time consuming. There are several sites that can do the work for you, so Consumer Reports put some popular price-comparison sites to the test. Patty Rosati bought her pool table online. She was determined to get the best deal. "I will go on each site individually to see who has the best price, and then I can make, you know, my decision from there," Rosati said. Consumer Reports ShopSmart says there are sites that make comparing prices much easier. "Price-comparison search engines are a must," said Lisa Lee Freeman with Consumer Reports. "They can save you time and they can save you money, too. But our research found that some are definitely better than others." Consumer Reports ShopSmart assembled a virtual shopping basket of eight items, including New Balance sneakers, an Avatar DVD and a Samsung netbook. ShopSmart editors searched for each product at 25 price-comparison sites. They wanted to see which found the best prices and were easy to use. Some turned out to be a waste of time. On shopping.com, that search for the Avatar DVD turned up paintball goggles. But one search engine identified the lowest prices for six of the items, including at least $100 savings on that netbook. That top site is pricegrabber.com. And it does a lot more than compare prices. "PriceGrabber is great because it'll calculate taxes and shipping for you so you can compare apples to apples," Freeman said. "And if you don't like any of the prices you see, you can sign up for email price alerts, which will let you know when the prices drop!" For shoppers like Rosati, that means no good deal will go undiscovered in no time at all. For the best results when comparing prices, use a product's model number. Also, the magazine found it's worth using price-comparison search engines for small items as well as big ones.