Daily Press - November 28, 2009
Hate to shop? Cyber Monday may be your answer
It's not quite a Hallmark holiday, but Cyber Monday has been gaining traction over the past few years as a well-known day to score shopping discounts.
Always on the Monday after Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday earned its name after Shop.org — a division of the National Retail Federation — noted that people were flocking to the Internet to shop, often at their work terminals. Web sites were created to focus on specific Cyber Monday deals, and a virtual shopping holiday was born.
Some bargain hunters, like Mike and Jerry Tietjens of crazytowndeals.com, say that the pickings weren't all that impressive last year. Most of the deals were carried over from Black Friday promotions. But this season's highly competitive atmosphere may push retailers to take advantage of Cyber Monday press.
Touted as the official Cyber Monday Web site, cybermonday.com aggregates deals from major retailers around the Internet, such as Target's "Daily Deals" Web site. Special codes and coupons are also compiled on the official site.
Other sites to check if you're hoping to score a deal: Amazon.com's Gold Box section, crazytowndeals.com and deals.woot.com. Big-box retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, J.C. Penney and Staples are also hosting special Cyber Monday sales, with some of the sales lasting for several days.
Although Internet shopping is common, there are still precautions you should take. The National Consumers League gives these tips for shopping safely online:
Don't shop on an unencrypted or open wireless network: Don't use a public wireless connection, like a coffee shop or airport network, to shop. Entering personal and financial information over an unsecured connection can leave your computer open to thieves.
Secure your own computer: Before connecting to the Internet, install anti-virus software and install a personal firewall.
Know who you're dealing with: Check out the seller and the physical address of the vendor. Be wary of sellers you have never heard of before and who don't have a track record.
Pay by credit card: Traditionally, credit cards offer more protection against fraud than debit cards. Check with your bank to learn about the specifics.
Look for the "s:" When providing payment information, the Web site URL should begin with "https." Sometimes the URL will be "shttp." That indicates the Web site can accept secure payments.
Turn off your computer: People who leave their computers running all the time are more susceptible to scammers who try to install malicious software on your computer.
For more tips on how to shop online safely, visit fraud.org.
Shop locally, online
Several retailers who call Hampton Roads home are also offering cyber-Monday specials. Among them:
Headquartered in Virginia Beach, Taste Unlimited sells gift baskets and wine. It also has stores in Newport News, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.
La Tienda, headquartered in Toano, sells products imported from Spain.
The Genuine Smithfield Ham Shoppe, which has retail locations in Smithfield and Williamsburg, plans to notify customers who opt into e-mail promotions about cyber Monday offers. It sells hams, sweets, nuts, breakfast foods and other items.
The Virginia Diner in Wakefield also plans to notify customers on its e-mail list about a Monday promotion. It sells peanuts, nuts, ham and other items online.