If ads shouting “prices slashed!,” “year-end clearance!,” and “on sale for a limited time!” Kick your bargain-seeking radar into high gear, you’re in good company. Whether you’ve got money to burn or you run your home office on a shoestring budget, there’s something supremely satisfying in taking home an outstanding deal.
Though great buys abound on refurbished, returned, or slightly dated equipment, it’s also a cinch to score savings on brand-new, factory-sealed software and hardware. To help you do so, we asked five veteran home office shoppers to share their tips, tricks, and strategies for getting the good stuff–cheap. Plan your next equipment purchase with these insider secrets in mind, and you’ll be sure to save a bundle.
Best Bargain Ever
April 1997: A Packard Bell Multimedia F170 desktop PC with 166MHz Pentium processor, 2GB hard disk, 16MB of RAM, CD-ROM drive, and modem for $799
How It Happened
“Those were the days when MMX technology was just starting to become hot,” explains Nearman. While shopping for a new PC for her business, Nearman stopped by Computer City, finding the F 170 on sale for hundreds less than similar models. “The initial Computer City we went to was sold out of F170s, so we drove 20 miles to the next nearest store,” Nearman recalls. “We were in luck; however, the price at this store was $1,699.” At that point Nearman discovered that the system at the first store was a mismarked manager’s special. After an hour of sweating and scratching their heads in disbelief, the store managers stuck to their word, selling her the PC for $799. That same weekend, Nearman bought a Packard Bell 17-inch monitor for $299 at CompUSA. “The whole system was a steal that still brings a smile to my f;ace,” she says.
* Know a bargain when you see one. “Do your homework so you know exactly what you’re looking for and what you’re willing to pay for it,” advises Nearman. “Then, when you come across that needle in the haystack, snatch it up on the spot. If you go home to think about it, someone standing in line behind you is going to grab your great steal.”
* Research, then buy retail. “I like to research prices and product information on the Internet, then make purchases through a local retailer,” Nearman says. “[Buying] locally enables me to touch the equipment before I buy, and I avoid shipping hassles if there ends up being a problem.” When you shop retail, be sure to check for price matching or price protection policies that refund the difference between what you paid and the sale price. These policies can net you major savings.
* Don’t wait to rebate. For smaller items, Nearman takes advantage of the rebate offers advertised weekly by Computer City, CompUSA, and other national computer stores. “You can get many office items like paper, diskettes, mouse pads, and CD jewel cases free if you’re willing to send your rebate in,” she says.