Frugal Tool Chest Tip #2: The Dynamics Of Finding The Item You Want Cheaper

by The Happy Rock on May 23, 2008

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.

bc-900-charger-battery.jpgA 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.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance May 23, 2008 at 12:56 pm

Great post! Especially for me since I have been looking for this exact battery charger. Now I’ve ordered one! Great site, in general, too — I’ll be visiting regularly.


Tawnya May 23, 2008 at 2:37 pm

Been reading your blog for a while. We often pull posts into our blog at Tech CU (Money Savvy). This post is particularly useful. Thanks.



Bill May 23, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Excellent post. Thanks for all the great tips on searching and finding the deals and coupons. I’ll be writing a post about this with a link to your post because I think the more people that know about this, the better.


Ron@TheWisdomJournal May 26, 2008 at 10:52 pm

Very good ideas.
The battery charge we used was an el cheapo and we had the same results. I guess we need to invest in a better one.


SavingDiva May 27, 2008 at 3:44 pm

I really like my battery charger. I’m wondering if I should invest in a nicer one. I only use my batteries for two remote controls, a clock and my automatic shower cleaner. I’m not sure if it would be worth it to spend so much for a nicer charger…


The Happy Rock May 28, 2008 at 6:19 am

@SavingDiva – If your charger isn’t totally cheap, then there probably isn’t a reason for you to buy a new one. I have a little Sony charger that I got for $20 with a set of batteries, and that seems to do a fine job. I suspect the quickest indicator is how fast the charger takes to charge. If it takes 8 hours or so than it should be fine for the batteries from what my research tells me.


Dan July 3, 2008 at 9:17 am

@ Happy Rock, great article on finding ways to find products cheaper. I am always about finding the best deals online. This post has not been commented on in awhile but it still might be read, so I thought I would post this. I actually own my own website online. For anyone one of your followers that is interest in discount knives, swords, law enforcement products, multi-tools, personal defense or other products in that nature I am will offer a 10% discount for any order that is $20 or more. Coupon code is HappyRock. I do not normal post discounts or anything like that but thought since this is about finding the best deals online, and since I try to always offer the best prices online for my products I thought this might be something someone would be interested in.



living in a frugal way July 10, 2008 at 10:54 am

Coupon codes save me so much money!! It’s weird how much discount you can fins sometimes…

I just got a months hosting for 1cent :) due to a code.

Ebay items actually sometimes sell a bit overprice because people believe it is the cheapest place to shop on the net.


chloe July 18, 2008 at 4:49 am

You really must be careful with these cheaper battery charger type products, my brother in law purchased one (off the well know auction site) i think it came from the far east, it was very cheap.

Anyway he charger it up one night and it set his kitchedn on fire, the fire brigade came out and everything – he got a new kitchen on the insurance but it could have been much worse.


The Happy Rock July 18, 2008 at 10:24 am

@chloe – The charger here is one of the best, but I do agree that sub quality and unbranded imports are risky. Even name brand cheap chargers ruined a few of my batteries.


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