By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com
Have you ever walked into a thrift shop and found a deal you couldn't refuse? Perhaps an almost-new pair of jeans for $5 or a couch for less than a day's wages. Have you ever noticed the section near the front of the grocery store stocked with dented cans and slightly damaged boxes? The contents are still fine, but the prices are much lower.
Related: Which is cheaper: Amazon or Walmart?Amazon Warehouse Deals
The ecommerce equivalent of the neighborhood thrift store and sale aisle is the burgeoning universe of warehouse deal sites. Amazon Warehouse Deals, for example, sells items that can't be sold as new on the pages of its primary site; proffered wares include goods that have been returned or bought by Amazon from third-party sellers. Before posting, Amazon assesses the items and rates them from "acceptable" to "new." In some cases, returned products were never opened and a dented box is the only defect.
We checked out Amazon Warehouse Deals and found some sweet bargains. A Ghirardelli New Favorites Gift Box was going for $6.78, with free shipping for Amazon Prime members or anyone whose order totals at least $25. Just how much of a deal is this Ghirardelli chocolate treat? The box comes with more than 10 small squares and three large bars of chocolate, and the price history shows it selling for as much as $33.99. The catch: As a super-cheap warehouse deal, the packaging is unlikely to be gift-worthy. Also, these warehouse deals sell out quickly, sometimes in a matter of minutes, so you need to act fast and check in often.
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Aside from warehouse deals on food items, this Amazon site stocks all kinds of bargains. We read through several discussion boards and found that consumers are quite satisfied with purchases made through Amazon Warehouse Deals. The discussion thread at FatWallet indicates that shoppers buy a range of things this way -- cookware, electronics, musical instruments -- and most are "like new". At DealsWoot, several consumers say they go to Amazon Warehouse Deals first when searching for a product, and others report substantial savings on good quality merchandise, including used video games, discontinued TVs, an open box of power tools. But both discussions include cautionary tales as well: software that had already been installed and activated, computer parts that didn't work, and one item that was completely broken.Grab great deals on everyday items.
Bad experiences aside, products sold through Amazon Warehouse Deals are backed by the vendor's satisfaction guarantee and return policies. Buyers of the unusable items mentioned above report that customer service offered appropriate remedies: a replacement, paid-for return shipping, an extra $20 gift card for the inconvenience, and the like. With open box electronics shoppers can buy a SquareTrade warranty for problems that arise after the 30-day return period (most manufacturer warranties are void for all but the original purchaser).
We searched for similar warehouse deals and came across Logitech's promotional items page, which is filled with high quality speakers and home electronics accessories. These warehouse deals save as much as half the retail price on new items in dented boxes or refurbished products, all backed by full warranties. We also noted that Best Buy hosts a warehouse deals page for clearance and open box items available at a local store. The return window on warehouse deals from Best Buy is 14 days, however, compared to the 30-day policy at Amazon Warehouse Deals and Logitech.
Shoppers who favor second-hand stores and the savings that come with them apparently score big with warehouse deals sites. Logitech's products are either refurbished or new but packed in dented boxes, and Best Buy's opened box and clearance items are money-savers even if the return policy is limiting. With its wide inventory of merchandise, from consumer electronics and books to toys, kitchenware, and groceries, Amazon Warehouse Deals offers the most opportunities to save.
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