Shopping Discussion

How can you shop smarter these days?

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  • Feb 23rd, 2014 7:37 pm
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Jan 7, 2014
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How can you shop smarter these days?

So back in the day it was relatively clear. Sony, for instance, was a good brand, it meant quality and reliability. It was made in Japan and that meant something. Also when the same product was sold in different stores, you could simply compare prices. As a consumer I felt empowered by that. I felt I had freedom and choice and actually make an informed decision. It was not perfect of course but compared to present time, it was much better!

Now the brand names mean nothing. Sony does not guarantee quality. Or consider cars: Even Toyota messed up recently, and who would have thought that KIA could offer decent reliable cars these days...yet they do! But how long will it last? Till they get customers and suddenly lower the quality of their product (and I seen it with chocolates, hard drives, everything). The parts for cars, computers, etc, are made all over the place, so that's another reason why it's hard to know if you're getting a good deal.

Also many times it's impossible to find the exact same product being offered in different stores, so price comparison is often pointless. Perhaps this is partly a good thing because there is so much more variety these days compared to the olden days. But at the same time, it means I can't compare the price or service or warranties for a particular stereo system by going to ten different shops. Today I was looking at a thread on RFD to find an external hard drive and somebody saying Seagate is not reliable based on some blog that compared the data on them but then somebody else saying no that's data on the particular model and the failure rates could be totally different for this one. Right, and so that means neither the brand nor actual data can serve as guidance for purchase. How are we to decide?

The other day in the dollar store I found a can of fruits for a good price and said so out-loud, but a person passing by told me I should be careful, given that some companies have special deals with particular store chains, so that they might make products uniquely for them and as a result, the quality will vary depending on the store. So although it might say DOLE on it, this is not necessarily the same DOLE you buy elsewhere. Whether that's true or not, it is yet another reason why I can not make informed decisions with confidence.

And speaking of food, I have some kind of food allergy that I can not quite figure out, but it also means I need to be careful about what I eat. So when I go to the cereal aisle, I take a pen and paper, because I need to write things down, the list of dozens of various ingredients and chemicals, so I can come home and figure out what the heck they are. Even seemingly simple and understandable labels are apparently not to be trusted. So things like "natural" or "healthy" or "pure" or "organic" or whatever may not mean what you think they mean. I think once I read a label that said something funny, like "made from 100% natural fruits." I thought, But is there any other kind? Are there unnatural fruits? And if it's made from natural fruits, it does not mean the juice itself has no artificial things added to it.

I find all this exhausting. Shopping should not be this hard! It should not required so much analysis and reading and critical thinking. The hard part should be making the money. Or going to the store, waiting in line, and carrying out the item. Or going to the stores and comparing prices. But not the actual decision to figure out what the heck it is you're buying. That should be obvious. And I don't even want to get into warranties and exchange policies and confusing manuals. You need a lawyer for those. I often don't buy warranties because they never cover the thing that needs fixing. And I can't go through the whole thing with the company, letters sent back and forth, explanations, and eventually me saying, You guys have got to make that more clear for the consumers and not bury it on page X in fine print!
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Feb 15, 2008
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Lots and lots of research. Read reviews. Investigate them. Investigate the reviewer and whether they have conflict of interest or not. No impulse purchases. And you need to sort of have a good mind for what is BS, and what's not. Lots of formerly 'good' brands have taken their brand loyalty and totally sullied it over the past number of years. If you don't keep abreast of this sort of stuff, then you're going to be disappointed.

The Internet is a wonderful thing for consumers if used appropriately.
TodayHello wrote:
Oct 16th, 2012 9:06 pm
...The Banks are smarter than you - they have floors full of people whose job it is to read Mark77 posts...
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Oct 15, 2009
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I know what you mean.

If you wonder whether it's true about the DOLE products, perhaps contact DOLE and find out. Then you can purchase confidently or know to stay away from the cheaper stores, giving you some certainty.

As for food, I look at the packaging and wording and see that it's marketing. All products try to sell themselves to you. I think everything we buy is marketed, sometimes with various buzz words. If you want more certainty in what you are purchasing, look at the ingredients. But you will not know whether the listed ingredients are really what's in the food, unless you worked at the factory and grew the produce and synthesized the flavourings. You can only have a bit of certainty in your purchases and just learn to live with it. I find buying fresh produce most comforting and organic if possible for the cheaper produce (i.e. organic apples, but not organic bell peppers because they are way too expensive). Fresh produce has less tampering with processing, added preservatives and added flavouring enhancements.

As for product quality, having friends and people to share their experiences with helps a lot, where we have pooled experiences to pull from. Other times it takes a tremendous amount of research like the previous post mentions. For example, if you're going to spend a few hundred on a camera that will last several years, I don't think it is unreasonable to spend a month, or several months of research investing into a product. I think I had spent 3 months or more of research on my camera purchase. I had about 6 months of time to research and make the purchase before I needed it.

My partner has severe allergies and food sensitivities to long list of foods. I don't have any allergies, but I will have food sensitivities from time to time. I think someone clarified the difference for me a while back where an allergy is life threatening reaction, where as food sensitivity is the inability to digest it/break down the food. Just FYI if you didn't know, because I didn't know until just a few years ago.
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Posen9 wrote:
Feb 8th, 2014 12:53 am
.....

The other day in the dollar store I found a can of fruits for a good price and said so out-loud, but a person passing by told me I should be careful, given that some companies have special deals with particular store chains, so that they might make products uniquely for them and as a result, the quality will vary depending on the store. So although it might say DOLE on it, this is not necessarily the same DOLE you buy elsewhere. Whether that's true or not, it is yet another reason why I can not make informed decisions with confidence......
Dollarama also sells Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn. I know it is the authentic product, as Frito-Lay is one of their vendors, but I swear, every time I have bought it from Dollarama, the popcorn has less cheese topping than the Smartfood I have bought from regular grocery stores.
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I think alot of it has to do with the volume of information we have about products. We all know people complain alot more about something than praise things in general.

It used to be if someone bought a Toyota and it was a POS then the 10 people closest to him/her would know about it. Nowadays if someone has an issue with his Toyota, the have their soapbox called the internet to tell a thousand people. That's why there are so many recalls. Imagine the Ford Pinto controversy today. Nobody would buy a Ford if they refused to recall a model that catches fire right away. Same with TV's. If you get a lemon everyone on RFD will know about it within hours...before you sucked it up and avoided that brand.

The argument of things not being the same in all stores is forced on the manufacturer. For example Future Shop doesn't want to sell the same model dishwasher as Costco because they can never compete on price. So they hold the manufacturer hostage to put a different model number on their product. A smart consumer will be able to do research and see it's the same product off the same assembly line with a different model number on it.

Anyways times have changed alot more in the retail industry over the last 30 years than ever before and to the smart consumer's advantage. There will always be products to buy for the uneducated and better ones for the educated. Today we as smart consumers have more choices than ever but work will reap the rewards, so I strongly disagree with your arguments.
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Shopping smarter? Easy. take a day or so, and reflect on what actually makes you happy.. is it buying the DVD or blu ray movie that you'll never watch? Or is it taking a nice walk down the street. If it's taking a nice walk down the street, dont buy the bluray, and instead invest in a good pair of shoes.

Shopping smarter means not buying junk you don't really need.
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HoleyMoley wrote:
Feb 8th, 2014 8:49 am
Dollarama also sells Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn. I know it is the authentic product, as Frito-Lay is one of their vendors, but I swear, every time I have bought it from Dollarama, the popcorn has less cheese topping than the Smartfood I have bought from regular grocery stores.
Have you ever tried to compare the SKU's?
TodayHello wrote:
Oct 16th, 2012 9:06 pm
...The Banks are smarter than you - they have floors full of people whose job it is to read Mark77 posts...
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Posen9 wrote:
Feb 8th, 2014 12:53 am
...once I read a label that said something funny, like "made from 100% natural fruits." I thought, But is there any other kind? Are there unnatural fruits? And if it's made from natural fruits, it does not mean the juice itself has no artificial things added to it...
This book helps to explains things: "Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice":

"...Of particular interest to OJ drinkers will be the revelation that most orange juice comes from Brazil, not Florida, and that even “not from concentrate” orange juice is heated, stripped of flavor, stored for up to a year, and then reflavored before it is packaged and sold. The book concludes with a thought-provoking discussion of why consumers have the right to know how their food is produced."

The food industry relies on the general public's ignorance. They want to sell you something that is appealing, but if you knew what it really was, you wouldn't like it so much.
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You just have to be on top of everything. Not only has the retail landscape changed like that, but it keeps on changing. So when you think you found a product or service you're confident with and of good value, it changes for the worst.
Remember to be an RFD-er and NOT a degenerate.
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No Frills wrote:
Feb 8th, 2014 6:36 pm
You just have to be on top of everything. Not only has the retail landscape changed like that, but it keeps on changing. So when you think you found a product or service you're confident with and of good value, it changes for the worst.
Agreed. I just bought some McCain's frozen pizzas and they have shrunk. Plus the pizza inside doesn't look anything like the one on the box that has cut slices of bacon. The bacon crumbs in reality were about 1/10th of the size of what was on the box and they have really cut back on toppings. I always bought McCain's because I'm allergic to the cornmeal they use on Delissio and now McCain uses cornmeal.

If you have allergies, you always have to read the labels no matter how many times you bought the product because you never know when they will have changed it.
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Becks wrote:
Feb 8th, 2014 6:06 pm
This book helps to explains things: "Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice":

"...Of particular interest to OJ drinkers will be the revelation that most orange juice comes from Brazil, not Florida, and that even “not from concentrate” orange juice is heated, stripped of flavor, stored for up to a year, and then reflavored before it is packaged and sold. The book concludes with a thought-provoking discussion of why consumers have the right to know how their food is produced."

The food industry relies on the general public's ignorance. They want to sell you something that is appealing, but if you knew what it really was, you wouldn't like it so much.
If that's a huge revelation to anyone they're idiots. I've eaten about 3500 oranges in my life and I can honestly say I've never had 2 taste EXACTLY the same. Some are sweeter, some more tart, some sour, some more pronounced, some weaker, some riper, ....I can also say I've never had Tropicana orange juice from a jug that tasted different from another batch.

If orange juice from one brand varied in taste like the actual fruit in the bottle then people would avoid that brand like the plague. They only offer what (dumb) consumers want, and the rest who know good from bad are not vocal and too minuscule to warrant change. Let's stop blaming manufacturers and producers for consumer idiocy, if there's no demand there won't be supply.
Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it.
- Mark Twain
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Jul 25, 2012
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How do you shop smarter?

Easy answer: use RFD!

Trololol

It is pretty true though, all the cheap deals get posted and you can be sure there are opinions to follow, usually other recommendations along with it if it's no good.
I'm not on the can right now, I swear
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x2plyx wrote:
Feb 9th, 2014 5:09 pm

It is pretty true though, all the cheap deals get posted and you can be sure there are opinions to follow, usually other recommendations along with it if it's no good.
Indeed. I probably pay closer attention to those posts more than the deals themselves.
Remember to be an RFD-er and NOT a degenerate.
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I don't buy pre made processed anything. I make my own chicken soup and not canned crap. Meat I buy is freshly butcher and barely frozen. Sides are farmers market or grown my own.

For lunch meat my roast beef (cooked correctly) is my own from a side of beef.

Eating this way you'll save $$, lose weight, and an overall better feeling.

prepackaged is full of chemicals, sodium, fat, and unhealthy crap in general.

I wonder if your a person who would buy a bag of chips vs a bag of carrots?
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starboy869 wrote:
Feb 9th, 2014 5:31 pm
I don't buy pre made processed anything. I make my own chicken soup and not canned crap. Meat I buy is freshly butcher and barely frozen. Sides are farmers market or grown my own.

For lunch meat my roast beef (cooked correctly) is my own from a side of beef.

Eating this way you'll save $$, lose weight, and an overall better feeling.

prepackaged is full of chemicals, sodium, fat, and unhealthy crap in general.

I wonder if your a person who would buy a bag of chips vs a bag of carrots?
People are lazy. Even baby carrots are for lazy people...I prefer my food not be soaked in chlorine than you very much. Whatever happened to peeling a couple carrots when you're hungry? The taste, the texture, the crunch is completely different than baby carrots...that has never made you wonder?
Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it.
- Mark Twain

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