The Frugal Tool Chest is a recurring series covering practical tips and tools that will arm you to save even more money on your online purchases. Frugal Chest Tip #1 covered using Price Protectr to save money by getting post purchase refunds on price drops.
This tip will walk you through some of the tips and tricks to find an item that you have decided to buy at the cheapest price. The article will use my most recent online purchase as a case study: La Crosse BC-900 Battery Charger.
A few weeks ago I was reading The Simple Dollar’s rechargeable battery analysis when he enlightened me to the fact that I was ruining my rechargeable batteries. I have been using NIHM rechargeables for almost two years, but I was seeing the actual life of the battery slowly shorten after each recharge. After a little more reading I realized that I was using a junky free charger that was charging the batteries to quickly. The cheaper the equipment the faster they will break down. For chargers, the faster they recharge the shorter the life span of the batteries and the less charge they will hold. Batteries are usually meant to take 7 or 8 hours to charge depending on the setting.
Here is a list of features that made me at least willing to pay $70 on Amazon:
- Comes with 4 AA and AAA batteries
- Heat sensor to prevent overheating
- Multiple charge currents
- Drain charge mode which fully drains the battery before recharging
- Capacity Test Mode
- Most recommended charger on the market
- C and D battery adapters*
So now that I had knew which charger I wanted and had a base price of $69.95 with free shipping, I could start looking for a better deal. The first stop was a search on eBay. I could see that I could get one for about $51 if no one else was bidding, but only one was going off a day. I did bid on one, but it went for 6 dollars over my asking price. I decided to look elsewhere.
My next stop is usually Google Product Search. The nice thing about a google product search is that they gather prices from a wide variety of smaller online stores and display seller ratings to help you make informed decisions. There were a few cheaper prices there, but they weren’t from sellers that had quality histories. This is often the case. The lower the price, the lower the quality seller and I wasn’t willing to risk it.
Then I happened to stumble upon Thomas Distributing ads in two places at about the same time. One was in the sponsored link section under my eBay search and the other was in the sponsored link section of a BC-900 google search. They were offering the charger for $38.97 with about $8.00 shipping. Sounds great, but can I trust the seller offering something that far below retail?
The next step is to google for “Reseller rating Thomas Distributing” which quickly brings you to ResellerRatings.com store rating section. To my surprise Thomas Distributing has a wonderful rating with lots of glowing reviews. Considering Amazon has a 5.1 rating and Thomas has a 9.7 I was ready to buy. You can use the “Store Finder” search on reseller ratings to research most of the stores that are worth buying from on the net.
The final step was to see if I could dig for a “Thomas Distributing coupon code”. Just by typing the simple google search a plethora of 5% coupons could be found. I was able to do a little more digging using some different word variations to dig up a 10% off credit / coupon code for Thomas Distributing. The code is GCNE10.
That brought the total down to $42.88, a savings of 39% from the listed price on Amazon. A great deal and a strong sense of satisfaction. I am not sure why it feels like you are cheating the system, but it does provide an overactive sense of accomplishment when you finalize a great deal. The charger arrived yesterday with no problems!
*Note : I misunderstood what the C and D adapters were. I thought they were adapters that let you charge C and D batteries in this charger. They are not; the BC-900 only charges AA and AAA. The adapters let you use AA batteries in C and D battery slots. I am not sure how well this will work, but it is worth a try.