Three (and a Half) Tips to Survive Cyber Monday

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It used to be that the opening weekend of the holiday shopping season had real meaning. Black Friday was a sport reserved for true, dedicated holiday shoppers and it required detailed planning and precision execution. Cyber Monday was a once-in-a-season shot at insane online bargains. Not true anymore.

With the dust settling on Black Friday, and retailers sweeping up debris (and filing police reports) from the hand-to-hand combat phase of holiday shopping, millions will turn tomorrow to Cyber Monday deals. Cyber Monday is the Internet-based sequel to Black Friday--a day where very little productive work gets done because people are busy surfing the Web looking for great online holiday bargains.

Don't kill yourself for that deal--there will be another.
Don’t go too crazy, though. In an era when “Black Friday” starts the day after Halloween, and when 10-minute oil change shops, and chiropractors offer “Black Friday” specials, the holiday frenzy has lost much of its luster. What used to be dedicated to the weekend following Thanksgiving has been extended into a nearly two month long deal-fest, so don’t worry about missing a great deal--another one will come along.

Here are three tips to keep in mind for Cyber Monday shopping:

Price Adjustments

If you see that a retailer is going to offer an LCD TV, Blu-Ray player, laptop, or other gadget that you must have, you may be able to buy it now at full price and have the retailer adjust the price after the fact. Many businesses have a policy in place to adjust or correct prices for purchases within some pre-defined period. Check with the retailer in question to see what its policy is, and confirm that it will honor the price adjustment policy for holiday purchases.

Price Matching

Most retailers also have some sort of competitive price matching policy. The policies are intentionally complicated so read the fine print, but if you see that one store plans to offer a great deal on an Xbox system this weekend, you might be able to take that ad and shop elsewhere from a competitor rather than fighting the crowds (as much).

There’s Always Next Week

Retailers want to have a solid holiday shopping season, not a flash in the pan great day. The insane deals are designed to get people to show up--in the store or on the website--in the hope that they will buy other items as well. Don’t fall for the trap of thinking that this is it. There will be more bargains next week, and in the weeks that follow.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some great deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and every so often there is a deal that truly is one-of-a-kind--at least for this holiday shopping season. It would be a shame to miss out on a great deal just because you want to hold out for a better one.

One more half tip for you: hedge your bets. I buy the deals as I see them when they’re available, and I keep my eyes open for better deals. If I find something better, I get that instead and return the first one. That way I make sure I get some version of what I am looking for without missing out on great deals by waiting too long.

Go ahead and shop the Cyber Monday deals, but make sure you keep your receipts handy. What seems like a bargain tomorrow may pale in comparison with deals that retailers will continue to offer in the weeks to come.

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