Monthly Archives: November 2012

Think twice before purchasing light fixtures online

After we purchased the home we now live in, one of the first things I wanted to change was the kitchen light fixture. It had a serious case of the uglies, and the light cover no longer sat snugly against the ceiling. I looked for a replacement at chain home improvement stores (both in person and online), but nothing there was a good fit for my kitchen.

Next, I began a search for a classy and unique lighting fixture on the Lamps Plus website. This showroom has a huge selection of beautiful lighting options. After exploring numerous choices, my husband and I settled on one we thought would be a perfect fit for our kitchen. We measured the space in our kitchen and compared it to the fixture’s online measurements to ensure the end result would be what we wanted. The light fixture wasn’t cheap, but the price seemed fair, and free shipping made the purchase more attractive.

When the light fixture arrived, the design was what we expected. The fixture itself was new as advertised and well-packaged. However, after we installed it, we realized it would not provide as much light as we needed, so we knew we had to send it back.

The packaging clearly stated customers must obtain a return authorization number to return merchandise, so I called the Lamps Plus customer service number to request one. After being on hold for 11 minutes (an unacceptable length of time in my view), my call was answered by a customer service agent who disconnected me about 10 seconds into our conversation. Not wanting to sit on hold again, I emailed the account representative who had been assigned to me at the time of my purchase. She promptly sent me the return authorization number. I repackaged the lighting fixture exactly as it had been sent to me and headed off to the UPS Store to send it back.

After the UPS Store agent measured and weighed the package, he look at me regretfully and informed me it would cost $100 to send the light fixture back, even using the slowest shipping method – that amount was half of what we paid for the fixture. He explained that the problem was the size of the box and the distance it had to be shipped—from the Midwest to California. Because the box had so much vacant headroom on the inside, I asked if making the box shorter would help. He said that would save me $30 and graciously assisted me in making the modifications.

I thought about keeping the fixture, but I really had no place I could use it, and I didn’t feel selling it on Craigslist would net me any more money than I would get returning it.

Would I buy a light fixture online again? Probably not. Even though I did my homework by measuring for the fixture, there was no way to be 100 percent sure it would meet my needs until it was installed. I can’t afford another testing session like this one.

In fact, I’ve learned an even bigger lesson—avoid buying large items online unless the company offers free return shipping or returns to a local store or you’ve seen the exact same item in person or used it previously and know it will work. Spending money on return shipping is like throwing it down the drain.

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Filed under Customer service, Shopping tips

A new way to get cash back while shopping on eBay

I was thrilled to receive a notification today that eBay is once again a part of Ebates. This means I now have two ways to earn cash back while shopping at the online auction site.

First, I earn eBay Bucks on each eBay purchase. These are credits that correspond to a percentage (currently 2 percent) of each purchase I make. The bucks accumulate for a quarter, then I can “spend” them on a future eBay purchase. I’ve found eBay is a source of many great deals — check out my previous post on the great finds eBay has on brand-name makeup.

Now, I can also earn cash back on eBay purchases through If you’re not familiar with Ebates, check out this previous post for the details. It’s a free way to earn cash back on things you were going to buy anyway. Ebates cash comes to me quarterly in the form of a cash deposit into my Paypal account, so I can spend it any way I choose. Several months ago, eBay stopped participating in Ebates, so today’s notification that the arrangement has resumed was welcome news. Currently, you’ll earn 3 percent cash back for each eBay purchase made through Ebates.

In addition to makeup, I’ve found eBay is a good source for electronics accessories, such as iPod cases. I recommend using caution when purchasing electronics on eBay, though. I’ve had mixed results — screen sellers carefully before buying a phone or MP3 player on eBay. In addition to auction listings, eBay offers “Buy It Now” items that you can purchase immediately instead of competing with other buyers for an item. In some of these cases, you may end up paying more than you would have for an item if you’d participated in an auction.

Are you an eBay shopper? What types of items do you find the best deals on when shopping eBay?

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Filed under Cheap and free stuff, Rewards programs, Saving money, Shopping tips

Promo and coupon codes for the week before Thanksgiving

It’s the time of year when sales and discounts abound, as retailers try to reel in holiday shoppers. Here are some promo and coupon codes you might want to take advantage of this week:

Inkjet Superstore: Use coupon code THANKSGIVING to get free shipping through November 22. Use promo code CANON to get 10 percent off Canon product through November 18. Only one code can be used per order.

Kohl’s: Take 15 percent off your purchase with coupon code GRATITUDE through November 14.

Meijer: Save 15 percent when you order an item from the Meijer website and pick it up in the store. Use promo code SHIPTOSTORE to get this deal. It ends November 17.

Bare Necessities: use coupon code X15OFF to save 15 percent and get free shipping on bras, underwear and other essentials. This code expires on November 19.

Lands’ End: Save 30 percent off your purchase with promo code FRIENDS and PIN 1511. Plus, get free shipping on orders of $50 or more. This offer ends November 13.

CVS Photo: Need photo prints in a hurry? Use promo code PRINTS12 to get 12-cent photos at CVS when  you order 50 or more. The photos will be ready for pickup at your local CVS the same day you order them online, if you order before 3 p.m. This deal ends November 17.

Timberland: Need hiking books, a backpack or outerwear? Save 20 percent of fyour purchase at Timberland with coupon code PRESENT12. The store’s website does not state an expiration date for this offer.

New York & Company: Use promo code 3712 to save $30 on a $75 purchase at New York & Company. Plus, get free shipping if your order is $125 or more. No expiration date is available for this offer.

Have you seen a great deal available this week? Post it here so others can save.

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Filed under Sales and promo codes, Saving money