Money Saver India
Are online deals and discounts real or fake?

Are online deals and discounts real or fake?

Products are always offered with discounts online. Prices are slashed and you are told how much you are saving. But are these advertised discounts real, or just a lot of hot air?

Many e-commerce sites “advertise” discounts. This of course, means that they have products with prices marked down, showing how much you will save. But are you really saving as much as is advertised? We did a little research to find out if you could get the same discounts, or even better, from official sellers and authorized resellers, as well as other websites.

We found that, in many cases, prices of products advertised as on sale aren’t the lowest by any stretch. A particular website may be having a sale and discounting products, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the best deal on that item. You’ll have to do more than a little shopping around to find the best prices.

Same discount at official store
Take, for example, the Casio Enticer MRW-200H-1B2VDF (A594) analog wristwatch. Amazon India lists it with a 10% discount for Rs1,346 – down from its MRP of Rs1,495. But this 10% discount is also offered by the official Casio India online store (listing here). So you wouldn’t really be saving anything. You get the exact same product (according to the listed specifications) and the warranty is also the same – two years.

And if you look at the certificate that authorizes the seller to sell Casio products online, you’ll see that it is valid only until September 30, 2014 – it’s remained expired for a few months now. (Image of certificate here)

Don’t believe online sales
Another example involves a so-called deal of the day. Amazon India advertised the Giordano 60058 (P11639) men’s analog watch at a 74% discount on January 15, 2015 – down from its regular price of Rs5,850 and available for just Rs1,495. This dual-time watch comes in an eye-catching black and orange scheme.

So you’d be saving Rs4,355, right? Not quite. While only TheWatchShop.in was selling the wristwatch at its MRP, you could get it on Snapdeal for Rs1,825. Jabong, on the other hand, had the same product in a different colour scheme for Rs1,999. This amounts to savings worth just Rs330 – and not Rs4,355 as advertised. So approach such deals with a little skepticism.

The business of the “selling price”
Flipkart has started listing a “selling price” which, in most cases, is lower than the MRP of a product. Even Amazon India does something similar, listing a “Price” just below the MRP on its product pages. What does this mean? It is just a way to get you enamoured to the disparity between the MRP and the price at which the item is selling. In some cases there’s yet another price listed below these two – usually a sale price. And then they also tell you how much you will be saving with the deal.

The “selling price” usually refers to the price of the product when sold without the discount, but sometimes it can be just an arbitrary number. So it’s best to compare prices on other sites to know really how much an item seen online is selling for.

How real are deals of the day?
And if you think flash sales and deals of the day discounts manage to one-up the competition, think again. They aren’t as attractive as they may seem. For instance, the 8GB, Class 4 Strontium microSD card was selling on Flipkart as a deal of the day on January 15, 2015 for Rs193 (with an advertised discount of 33% on its MRP of Rs289) plus a shipping charge of Rs40. The same memory card was being sold on eBay India for Rs195 with free shipping – a much better deal (which expires on February 4, 2015). It was also being sold on Amazon India for Rs193 without any shipping charge. So you have reason to be cautious of these sporadic and fleeting deals of the day too.

However, some DOTDs are real
Flipkart was running a deal of the day on filters for your DSLR. The Hoya Digital Filter kit for 58mm lenses was available on the e-retailer at Rs1,800 for a whopping 64% off its MRP. The same kit was available on Amazon India for Rs2,879 and on Snapdeal for Rs2,990, which means you could save more than Rs1,000 if you picked the one on Flipkart when it went on sale. This was a good deal, although the 64% discount was greatly exaggerated.

Beware of listed MRPs
Another deal of the day that turned out to be worthwhile was the Fujifilm FinePix S8500. It sold on Flipkart for Rs12,499 – although the listed MRP on Fujifilm’s official site was Rs19,999 – and came with freebies such as a 4GB SD card and an HDMI cable. It was available on Amazon India for Rs19,700, a slight discount on the MRP, while Snapdeal had it listed with a 30% discount for Rs16,074, down from a listed MRP of Rs22,999, which is misleading.

Don’t blindly look at the discounted percentage figure next to a product. It may not be telling you the whole truth. And in this specific case, it wasn’t truthful at all.

What about video games?
Well, if there’s one area of online shopping in which you know exactly what you’re getting, it’s video games. Rarely do online retailers put video games on sale, but if you happen to see them at discounted rates you know you’re almost certainly getting a good deal. Still, crosschecking with physical stores such as Game4u and GamesTheShop or doing a quick check online will only serve to confirm the deal, so you should do it.

An example: Flipkart had a video game clearance sale as one of its deals of the day and the Xbox 360 Batman: Arkham Origins was available at just Rs999. On Game4u it costs Rs2,984 and on GamesTheShop it was available at MRP (Rs2,999). The game wasn’t available at other e-retailers.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 for the Xbox 360 was available as part of Flipkart’s clearance sale for just Rs748. It was out of stock on both Game4u and GamesTheShop (but it was listed for Rs1,999 and Rs1,799 respectively). However, the former did have a second-hand copy selling for Rs1,296.

So in general, deals on video games seem to be favourable more often than not, especially if you’re looking for an older video game which isn’t sold anymore. However, in one-off cases you might not get the absolute best deal.

Checking other sources pays off
Borderlands The Pre-Sequel for the Xbox 360, advertised as part of Flipkart’s deal of the day sale, was available on the e-retailer for Rs2,178. But, the game was being sold on Game4u at a Rs500 discount for just Rs1,999.

Conclusion:

There’s no need to be completely cynical of online discounts – not all are inflated through tricky, and questionable, advertising. But in order to truly eke out a tantalizing deal, you’ll have to use common sense and good judgment. You’ll need to be smart and tech savvy to figure out which deals are real and which are simply a lot of hot air. It takes a good eye, and a lot of practice, to spot a real deal online.

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