Deal Sites for Consumers: Service or Spam?

by : Andrew LaDuke



The internet has spawned yet another class of web sites designed to save consumers money by helping them to locate the best deal on the internet for products and services.

This is how it works. Entrepreneurs at web sites such as www.bargainminder.com search the internet for deals on consumer products. These so called “deal sites" can list any product under the sun, or some will specialize by category, such as clothing or electronics.

Each day the web sites will list items that were found on sale or under a special promotion offered only through these sites by some of the largest retailers in the country. For example,www.bargainminder.com might list products from Dell.com, Overstock.com, Amazon.com and many more, while www.dealhunting.com lists products for the home, such as clothing and gardening items.

Another site, www.dailyedeals.com, offers listings for just about anything. It too, lists a “coupon code," which can be entered during the checkout process on the merchant’s site, to qualify for a particular limited time deal.

Like many, BargainMinder on some items will provide brief instructions on exactly how to place your order to help you maximize your savings. Many retailers are offering free shipping these days, but it is important to make sure you select that option during the checkout process.

So how do these sites make money? Should they be considered a valuable tool for consumers or merely collections of spam items?

The sites make money by participating in a growing trend in marketing on the internet. “Affiliate Programs" are offered by retailers and are a way for any web site to produce some income. Basically it works like this. When you click on a link from one of the “deal" sites, the site from which you clicked is tracked by the retailer. If you buy a product, the referring site makes a commission on your sale.

Using this type of marketing, retailers get literally thousands of web sites promoting their products. The deal sites basically save the consumer the time it would take to research a product’s price on their own. So do the deal sites save time and money? Absolutely they do. Are they spam? Spam is defined as: Unsolicited e-mail, often of a commercial nature, sent indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals, or newsgroups; junk e-mail. So a deal web site by itself would not be spam, but if the site sent out unsolicited emails trying to draw consumers in, then it would qualify.