Patty Rosati bought this pool table online. She was determined to get the best deal.
Patty says, "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."
Consumer Reports ShopSmart says there are sites that make comparing prices much easier.
Lisa Lee Freeman with Consumer Reports ShopSmart found, "Price-comparison search engines are a must. 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 this 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-dot-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 a hundred dollar savings on that netbook.
That top site is PriceGrabber-dot-com. And it does a lot more than compare prices.
Freeman says, "PriceGrabber is great because it'll calculate taxes and shipping for you so you can compare apples to apples. And if you don't like any of the prices you see, you can sign up for e-mail price alerts, which will let you know when the prices drop!"
For shoppers like Patty Rosati, that means no good deal will go undiscovered in no time at all.
Consumer Reports ShopSmart says 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. Prices do change, but ShopSmart found the best sites turned up savings from about $10 on a hardcover novel to almost $400 on binoculars.