With all the hoopla surrounding
Internet discounters, it's easy to forget who's actually making the
product or providing the service that you want to buy.
But if you're buying an airline ticket, booking a
hotel room, picking out a computer or even shopping for an unusual
book, something small and obvious sounding may surprise you.
Try the manufacturer.
Before you search the virtual world over for a deal,
just go to the maker's home page and see if they'll give you
You may be in for a treat.
"When I recently bought airline tickets to Atlanta, I bought
directly from AirTran instead of using Orbitz," says Jynelle Gracia
of Iowa City, Iowa. "I saved on the service charge from Orbitz and
the shipping fee for a FedEx from Orbitz.
"Orbitz didn't offer e-tickets for AirTran," Gracia
says, "but AirTran itself did."
Jeremy Knapp, a graduate student at University of
Iowa, saved on a holiday flight by buying through the airline.
"The last time I went home for Thanksgiving, I
checked Travelocity, Expedia and Orbitz, and I found tickets that
were consistently $45 to $60 higher than what was on Delta.com,"
"Plus Delta had a direct flight with no connections,
just straight from Cedar Rapids to Cincinnati."
One way to find out about direct-from-the-airline
deals is to register on their site. United and American both send
out e-mails listing saver fares.
Some airlines occasionally woo customers by offering
deals like "take three flights and get one free." You can find out
about promotions like that, too, by registering online.
You'll also get a heads-up on last-minute bargains.
Those procrastinator fares are often better than what the
Hotels: Just call and ask
Though travel clubs, AARP and AAA will all get you discounts, using
their discounts may not always be the cheapest way to stay.
Travelers -- especially at less-popular destinations
-- can be rewarded just for calling the front desk.
The Quality Inn in Moline, Ill., for instance, has a
Park-and-Fly rate that includes parking and a shuttle ride to the
nearby airport. That rate, available to anyone who calls, is
actually $5 lower than the travel-club rates.
Another interesting possibility with hotels are the
little coupon books available at chain restaurants and rest stops
along major highways.
In states like Indiana, you can find a clean place
to sleep for $39.95 if you just call a local hotel. If you go
through a national discount line, it will probably be at least $55.
Though a hotel-discount site may sound like the best
deal, sometimes looking through the Yellow Pages will be the route
to a true bargain.
Computer deals direct
If you do a little surfing, you'll find that plenty of manufacturers
will be happy to sell you a computer directly -- with no middleman.
From Toshiba to Dell, you can avoid the electronics
store entirely. If you have a strong understanding of computers, and
you know exactly what you need and what you plan to pay, a
manufacturer can yield a better deal than a retailer.