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The two-year contract may seem intimidating, but you need service for your iPhone. For most people, buying an unlocked iPhone isn’t a good deal. The price of your iPhone is subsidized by the two years of service payments. If you buy an unlocked iPhone, you miss out on the savings and will have to pay for service anyway. If you are happy with your carrier, you will most likely get the best price on an iPhone by dealing with them directly.
Why Not Buy from Apple?
As mentioned, the Apple Store typically doesn’t have the best price. Sometimes they will offer gift certificates as a promotion. If you can get a $50 or $100 gift certificate with an iPad, Mac, or other Apple product, it might make it worthwhile. Typically, these offers are available during the Christmas shopping season — after Thanksgiving, starting on Black Friday.
Beware of Fake Retailers
Before you buy anything, make sure you are buying from an honest retailer. There are websites that look legitimate, but they are copies of other legitimate online retail websites. Their goal is to steal your money.
It’s easy to avoid fake online retailers. First, look at the URL of the site in the address bar. Make sure it is the correct site. The fake sites will look identical to a real site, but they cannot take the same URL. Google Shopping also lists “Trusted Stores”. These are well-known and trusted online retailers. These retailers are listed in Google Shopping search results. Some have a Google Trusted Store badge on their home page.
You can also click on the padlock icon in the address bar, if the URL begins with “https”. This is the SSL security certificate. Clicking on the padlock will show the certificate and confirm that the site is legitimate. Of course, a fake site can get a real SSL certificate, but it will have the URL of the fake site.
Finally, make all purchases with a credit card. If you are scammed by a fake site, you can report this to your credit card company, and you will get a refund.
NBC news covered this story and recommended calling the site’s customer service number. I don’t think this is a great idea. A fake site can have a fake customer service number. The website’s URL, or address, is the best way to confirm it’s real. If you are unfamiliar with the online retailer, do some research before you buy. Even if they are legitimate, they may have unscrupulous policies, such as high restocking fees or no returns.
Now that you know how to find the best price for the iPad, you can use this same method to shop for virtually anything. Google Shopping is a great way to find the lowest price. Just beware of shady online retailers and fake sites. Read reviews and confirm the website’s address to avoid these online shopping pitfalls. With a little knowledge and effort, online shopping is not only convenient, but will save you a bundle.