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Let’s Make a Deal — With Coupon/Discount Codes

Posted on Tuesday, February 1st, 2011 at 8:54 am (5) comments

By Gabe Goldberg (SD user GabeGold)


Image by Flickr user Bramus!

The Internet has many rich, powerful, and secret languages that must be understood for full Netizenship. Among them are HTML (HyperText Markup Language, used to construct Web pages), Lolspeak (captions for funny cat pictures), and shopping coupon codes used for bargaining and playing “Let’s Make a Deal” with Web sites.

Slickdeals readers are surely accustomed to finding nifty codes here — a frequently mentioned favorite site for using codes is Restaurant.com offering easily used never-expiring heavily discounted certificates — but many other code resources exist.

Entertainment discount coupon books, available for most US cities, provide hundreds of paper coupons for offline use as well as many valuable codes for online and telephone shopping. Offers include free shipping, additional merchandise, and purchase percentage savings. If you buy books for dining and local savings, don’t neglect back-of-book slick deals, such as hotels’ Entertainment rates; such discounts may beat AAA/AARP/etc. and have saved me hundreds of dollars on individual hotel stays.

As in most online matters, Google and other search sites are your very good friends for finding coupon deals. Simply enter the shopping site you’re using with likely keywords such as “coupons”, “discounts”, etc. If the shopping site uses a term like “promo code”, try that as well. You may find coupons on target sites or referenced elsewhere. Of course, also search this warehouse of savings, Slickdeals.

When shopping online, especially if there’s a box for entering codes of any sort, don’t head straight for checkout; browse for hidden nuggets by looking for tabs/links such as Specials, Members, and Customer Service. If there’s a Site Map, check it for leads to discounts. Before taking my car in for service, I always click Service/Specials to see what’s on
sale. That’s saved me $20 on oil changes, 10% on major service packages, and currently offers $100 off the timing belt replacement package.

Browse and search. Companies and individuals contribute codes; like most slickdeals, bargains are volatile, so check expirations and strike quickly if something is appealing. Read visitor comments for feedback on what’s worked and chime in with your experience to help others.

Watch for, remember, and grab government discount programs. In 2010, various federal and state programs motivated buying furnaces, clothes washers, refrigerators and other appliances tagged with the government’s Energy Star label. Rebates seemed to be from $75 for clothes washers to several hundred dollars for home heating and cooling systems. And bigger bucks were available, for example, from Colorado, offering $15,000 back for installing a commercial solar thermal systems. Details are in “Appliance Discounts, for the Swift“.

Of course, businesses don’t offer coupons and discounts from the goodness of their hearts. The New York Time also notes, “Web Coupons Know Lots About You, and They Tell“, describing how Internet and mobile phone coupons often include personal information and details on how coupons were found. So the usual warnings apply: don’t reveal too much information when searching/registering/downloading; install privacy-enhancing browser add-ons; consider using a separate email address for shopping; and if a website’s privacy policy is too outrageous, shop elsewhere.

Gabe Goldberg has developed, worked with, and written about technology for decades. This article appeared originally on the slickdeals.net web site. © Gabriel Goldberg 2010. Permission is granted for reprinting and distribution by non-profit organizations with text reproduced unchanged and this paragraph included. Please email slickdeals@gabegold.com when you use it.