Black Friday, Cyber Monday: Tips to make your online shopping experience smarter, safer

If you plan on doing a little e-shopping this weekend, here are a few tips and tricks to save you money and keep you safe.

Saving money when shopping online is a lot easier than you think

Last year, Americans spent $57 billion US on Black Friday sales. (Shutterstock)

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the United States' biggest shopping blitzes, have arrived. While the weak loonie may keep many of us from crossing the border to shop — and let's face it, who has the stomach to brave the crowds? — that doesn't mean we can't cash in on the sales. 

In fact, we don't even have to leave the comfort of our couches, thanks to the deals many Canadian retailers are offering up online.

If you plan on doing a little e-shopping this weekend, CBC Montreal's tech columnist, Molly Kohli, has a few tips and tricks to save you money and keep you safe.

Trust your retailer

This may seem like common sense, but there are tons of websites out there that sell products without the proper security mechanisms in place. It's always best to go with tried, tested and true retailers. A good place to start is a store that also has a brick-and-mortar presence. But reputed e-commerce sites like Amazon are also generally reliable (for the most part!). Look at seller ratings and read consumer reviews to get familiar with which sites are best.

Keep in mind: Reputed doesn't necessarily mean breach-proof. Target and Home Depot have both had data breaches in the past. But using a known retailer should translate into more proper channels for customer service (we'd hope!).

Don't pay full price!

Stores often have deals going on — free shipping, bulk discounts, 2-for-1 sales — that you can take advantage of if you're paying attention. For the most part, websites will advertise these deals clearly and provide discount codes for you to use when you're buying online. But if you simply search "coupon codes" and the store's name in a search engine, you may find even more hidden discount codes that can save you a few extra bucks. In addition, many retailers will offer up to 20 per cent off your first online purchase if you subscribe to their newsletter.

Extra Tip: If you do intend on signing up for a store's newsletter, please use a secondary email address — one where you won't mind getting spam. Keep your shopping and personal lives separate! 

Know your total

Before you finalize your purchase online, you will always get some kind of review page with all of the details of your order. Please take a look at the amount you are agreeing to pay BEFORE YOU PAY. There may have been hidden fees or extra charges added along the way. Once you hit the pay button, the amount you listed in your confirmation email or on your credit card statement should match the amount you saw on the review page.

Little trick: I suggest taking a screen grab of the review page (if you don't know how, you can simply take a picture of your screen) so you have a paper trail of the numbers. This might sound excessive, but it could help if you have to complain to customer service. Trust me, it has bailed me out of a handful of extra charges in my own experience. 

Are you planning on shopping online this weekend and holiday season? Do you have any good tricks to help you save money? Let us know!

About the Author

Molly Kohli

Social media editor/Tech Columnist

Molly Kohli is the social media editor for CBC Montreal . She also brings her love for all things digital as technology columnist on CBC Montreal's weekend TV show, Our Montreal.


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