Those supposedly great online deals you're eying this holiday season may be the exact opposite: You could be paying far too much for too little value. Here's where to go to make sure you're not getting ripped off.
The New York Times recently published an eye-opening article that found "the people who study the holiday discount bonanza say that our knee-jerk reverence for these discounts is misplaced." In fact, the article found, very few so-called deals offer any kind of discount at all.
But there's plenty of help out there if you want to make sure you're getting the best deal possible. Following are five of my favorite sites and apps for doing it.
This is a great place to start. It lets you check the list price of any product, the average selling price, and the best deal that it can find on the Internet. That way, when you see what seems to be a good deal on a 50-inch TV, you can make sure you really are getting a deal.
Consumer Reports rates this as the best price-comparison site on the Internet, finding the best deals on six of the eight products it searched for. I've been using this site for years, and can vouch it'll save you money. In addition to being a Web site, it's available as an app for iOS and Android as well.
Here's another one that Consumer Reports rates as a winner. In addition to being a product comparison site, it has many user reviews. You can also search for items that only have free shipping. And there's also a very good price-history graph that tracks whether a particular item is trending up or down in price so you decide whether to hold off for a while before buying or pounce now.
This electronics and gadget deal and product comparison site is a winner, and one that the New York Times relied on in its article about watching out for bad deals online. It's got a sizable staff that seeks out and confirms the best deals -- Jacqui Cheng, the editor in chief of this site and The Sweethome (see below) says that they checked out 54,000 holiday deals, and only found a little more than 300 that are truly worthy. Not only does it list best deals by category, but you can search for products as well.
This site is run by the same people who run The Wirecutter. This site specializes in products for the home, but otherwise is the same as The Wirecutter.