(National) April 22, 2004 - Say you want to buy Consumer Reports' top-rated digital camcorder, the Elura 50 from Canon. It's selling online at Best Buy for $599. To see if there's a better deal, Consumer Reports' Helen Popkin checked out comparison shopping sites called shopping bots.
There were six in all - Bizrate.com, mySimon.com and NexTag.com, as well as PriceGrabber.com, PriceSCAN.com and Shopping.com, "Well, they all work about the same way. You type in the name of a product you're looking for. In this case the Canon Elura 50. And, you get back a list of sites where that product is available."
A shopping bot can sort the results by price, "At Shopping.com the camcorder is available at prices ranging from $419 to $699."
But be aware, Popkin says, the way to find the best deal is to sort by total price, which includes shipping and handling and any taxes, "When you include shipping, handling and taxes, $419 becomes $479, and it's no longer the lowest price." The cheapest price was actually $459 at another site.
Shopping bots can also tell you about other shoppers' experiences. You'll want to avoid sites with comments like "very poor customer service" and "I would not shop here again."
Consumer Reports' Money Adviser found some shopping bots are better than others. Top ratings went to BizRate.com and Shopping.com. They're easy to use -with the best combination of product availability and lowest prices.
by Judi Gatson
posted 6:00pm by Chris Rees