Clicked too fast

GuitarEver had one of those purchases that you regretted immediately after clicking “Buy”? Sadly, I had one of those moments when I let me guard down last month.

It was a lazy morning when I was scrolling through Facebook and an ad popped up on a pocket guitar. As a guitar fan, I’m enthralled by guitars that are great for travelling — it can be a chore lugging around a full-sized guitar at times.

At just half its usual price, the US$35 deal looked too good to miss.

Here was a guitar that I can easily bring around with me — on the road, in my luggage or even in my backpack.

Small and light, it comes with steel strings too — ticking all the right boxes.

After clicking “Buy”, my mind suddenly lit up. “Wait. Is it really playable? Why didn’t I check the reviews?”

Guitar fine printMy worst fear was confirmed when I went back to the site and read the comments. Without going into full details, let’s just say that people had quite a bit to say about the product.

A look at the product’s description (left) made me regret my quick buying decision.

“It is mainly finger practice & will not produce any sound.”

How stupid could I be? Why was I so impulsive? Why didn’t I read the comments and description carefully?

Anyway, the product took much longer than expected to arrive. I had to send a chaser and was told that the product wasn’t shipped earlier because it was a busy period.

The package arrived two days ago and it looks and sadly, functions as described.

Lessons learnt:

  1. Don’t buy on impulse.
  2. If a deal sounds too good, read the description and comments.
  3. Check with other sites for pricing — I found out that I overpaid for this even though it’s claimed to be a good deal.

Do share if you have a similar experience.

 

Nice touch, Cotton On

Cotton On.jpgThe order took a week to arrive — a little too long and a test of patience considering that this was a local order made on November 11 (Singles Day Sale).

However, when it did, the packaging managed to temper the disappointment a little. “Someone’s got good taste” sits really well with me, and I’m sure, with many others too.

Cotton On Drake JoggersInside were three pairs of Customised Drake Joggers, the most comfortable pants that I’ve worn in a long time.

I bought them in three colours — street grey, brushed copper and washed dusty (faded blue) — to complement the few pairs that I already own.

My first encounter with this jogger pants was during a trip to Melbourne earlier this year. I wanted a comfortable pair of pants to wear on board the flight back.

After checking out various options, the joggers felt really cool and relaxed without looking too sloppy. It made the nearly eight-hour trip such a breeze. With its subtle drop crotch and elastic ankle cuffs, sitting and even moving around the plane was such a pleasure.

I’ve since worn it for many different occasions and it’s become my go-to pants whenever a pair of berms or shorts is not deemed suitable.

Why I like it:

  1. Drop crotch cut: :Lots of space for movement.
  2. Slim leg fit: Makes me look slimmer (definite plus).
  3. Elastic angle cuffs: A sense of snugness without feeling too tightly bound.
  4. Versatile usage: Can use for many ocassions
  5. Elastic waist band: Room for growth (hopefully not needed but good to have the option).

If you’re keen, you may get it from Cotton On online or pop in to one of their many shops to try a pair on.

 

I like rockers

Skechers Shape Ups
Skechers Shape Ups

I like rockers. Not the living kind — though there are some rock stars that I admire — but shoes that have boat-shaped soles.

My first encounter with rockers was when a friend passed me a pair of MBT shoes to try. He knew that I had flat feet and thought it would help alleviate the pain of walking too much. The experience wasn’t that great because the sole was wobbly.

After a couple of days of trying, I returned the pair of shoes to him and totally forgot about it.

My first rockers
During a trip to the US, I was feeling the strain of walking while checking out the stores at Grove City Premium Outlets. I stepped into a Skechers shop and chanced upon its version of the rocker shoes, called Shape-Ups. As my ankles were aching then, I was pleasantly surprised when I tried on the shoes. Somehow, the well-padded shoes with the thickened middle sole eased the pressure on my feet.

I bought two pairs — it’s the usual buy one pair and get the second at 50 percent off deal.

Since then, I’ve sworn by rockers. They’re the best for flat-footers like me.

When my shoes wore out after a couple of years, I managed to get another pair from Amazon.

However, this year, I had difficulty searching for Shape-Ups — only odd sizes and designs were available either on Amazon or eBay. The official sites no longer listed those products.

Turned out that I was not well-informed as Skechers and a few others had to pull their products off the shelf because of a lawsuit for misinformation. They had claimed that the shoes offered health benefits, which unfortunately, was found to be untrue.

But, that did not deter me. It wasn’t those health benefits that I was seeking. I just found the shoes to be comfortable and they suited me fine.

So began a search for alternatives and the road led to MBT. I read numerous reviews and checked out forums and the overall views were generally good. It had better be because MBT shoes are costlier than Skechers’.

As the reviews all mentioned that it’s better to try the shoes to ensure the right fit before buying, I headed to one of the MBT outlets in Singapore.

After listening to my needs, the salesperson recommended a pair for me. Seems the shoes are designed for different uses — walking, casual running and serious running.

The MBT G17 comes in three models -- mine's for casual running.
The MBT G17 comes in three models — mine’s for casual running.

I was advised to take the one in between since I plan to use it for my travels. To match my wardrobe, which comprises mainly clothes in blue or black, I opted for a blue pair of the MBT GT 17 (I think the number indicate the year the model was launched).

The thicker mid-sole makes it more comfortable for flat-footers.
The thicker mid-sole makes it more comfortable for flat-footers.

Two months later and I can testify that the MBT shoes are really good and dare I say, even more comfortable than the Skechers, which I still own and wear. The sole is more solid and there’s a firmer feel all round.

If you have flat feet or just want good support for your ankles and feet, MBT shoes are a great choice. However, do note that it takes a little getting used to the rocking motion. But once you’re used to it, there’s no turning back.

You may get the same MBT shoes as mine at Amazon.

Amazon faces backlash for jacking up fees

Amazon PrimeDon’t know if it’s happening in our part of the world yet but Amazon has introduced a £3.99 surcharge in the United Kingdom for its same day delivery service.

This has got customers all riled up with The Daily Mail reporting that under the new arrangement, customers are expected to pay £3.99 plus a £2 tip for the driver on orders under £40.

This is on top of the annual fee paid for Amazon Prime, which covers free delivery of unlimited purchases through the year.

Get ready for November 11

TaobaoNovember and December are probably the most exciting times of the year for shoppers around the world.

In Asia, November 11 is Singles Day and more importantly, the day where China sites such as Taobao dish out bargains galore. With a little patience and budget, there are tons of deals to consider and snatch. From past experience, many of these deals even come with free shipping.

Next up are Black Friday on November 24 and Cyber Monday on November 27. More options are available on these days as many online stores worldwide are also tapping in to these occasions.

Of course, December is the true shopping month — an entire month dedicated to or rewarding by buying stuff for self and loved ones as the year winds down.

Before you hit the sites, do note these tips:

  1. Know what you want or risk spending time browsing aimlessly.
  2. Know which sites to visit. Prepare a list if prioritise if you have many.
  3. Know your credit card deals. Many credit card companies are offering cashback or other incentives for using their cards. It’s time to grab some of these while shopping.
  4. Know the delivery options. This is especially important if you’re planning to buy them as Christmas gifts. You don’t want to go for free shipping only to have the product arriving after Christmas or worst yet, in the next year.

Happy shopping!

Which delivery option is best?

Choosing a delivery option for online orders cAmazon Primean  be simple or may require a little bit more thinking.

It really depends on how fast you want the product and how much you’re willing to pay.

Online stores usually provide different shipping methods, which in turn determines pricing and speed.

  • Fast and free: Without a doubt, all of us would want this. Who wouldn’t want to get your hands on the latest purchase? This is usually possible only with in-country purchases. For instance, Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping on millions of items, and free same-day and Prime Now Delivery in select metro areas in the US. The service is free only for 30 days, after which you have to pay US$10.99 per month plus taxes. If you buy frequently from Amazon, this is a great option.
  • Slow but free: If you can wait, many in-country and even some international shipments can be free. With a little advanced planning, this can work out well and save you some money. The key is patience. You must be prepared to wait. When I ordered from Alibaba or Aliexpress from China, I had to wait up to 60 days for free deliveries.
  • In the middle: You’re prepared to wait but not for 60 days, and don’t want to pay shipping fees that are close to the price of the product. Most online stores offer such options so pick one that fits your budget and wait tolerance.

Whichever delivery method you choose, the feeling when receiving that package is the same. The joy. The sense of excitement. The thrill of ripping apart the packaging.

How to get the best deal

How to get the best deal

 

Torch lightA friend of mine once told me that his purchase is better than mine because he paid more for it. He may be right if the products are of different quality but they were the same.

Not wanting to debate too much with him, I was secretly thrilled inside of me that I got the better deal.

After researching on the product and deciding that it’s what you want, it’s time to look for the best deals.

From experience, it boils down to three things: right shop, right price and right timing.

  1. Right place: The sites that you gathered information on the product may just be the right place. Some e-commerce platforms such as Amazon are massive and can list lots of shops offering the same product. And sometimes, brick-and-mortar shop can have great deals too! My family bought a Nakamichi bluetooth headset for under S$20 (usual price is about S$90) while on a trip to Changi Airport Terminal 4 in Singapore.
  2. Right price: Compare, compare, compare. Don’t buy from the first store or site, or even if the ads are shouting at you from your social media sites. I regretted big time one such incident when I bought something online without thinking twice only to find out that it was selling at less than half the price elsewhere.  Take time to search for the best price. Use the “sort” feature in sites such as Aliexpress.com and Lazada.sg. A word of caution. If the product is too cheap, be very cautious. It may be a good deal or a scam.
  3. Right timing: Timing is important if you’re in no rush to buy. Look out for sales and special discounts. The shop of my favourite football team offers discounts and deals regularly — sometimes even several times a week. I take advantage by looking out for “free overseas” shipping because it can save me lots.

I hope that these tips are helpful. I’ll update them if others come to mind — it’s a learning process and we don’t want others to make our same mistakes.

If you have other tips, do share with us.

The search begins…

 

GoogleAfter the thought of buying something, it’s time to start shopping, right? Well, not quite — for me, at least. I’ll do my groundwork to find out more about the desired item. Here’s how:

  • Use search engine: My first stop is usually Google, which is a treasure trove of information.
  • Visit the online shop: Some shops are not online but the products may be found in e-commerce sites such as AlibabaAmazon and Qoo10.sg, or others like Carousell and eBay.
  • Read reviews: It’s good to find out what people are saying about the product. But, do note that some reviewers can be biased because of personal inclination or maybe the company has incentivised them in some ways. Read a few reviews for a more rounded view.
  • Leverage social media: Sometimes, a post on Facebook asking for opinions on social media can help. Your friends may own the product or have heard opinions from those who have one.
  • Check out forums: The most honest views, in my opinion at least, are found in forums. People are less constraint on the Net and if the product doesn’t work, they tend to voice their opinion.
  • Go to the physical shop: Sometimes, it’s good to see and feel the product before buying. If distance is not an issue, pay a visit to the physical shop.

These are just some of the ways of research that have worked for me. Do share with us if you have more tips.