Altra Winlen 50″ TV stand with 2 bins for $69

Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 4:00 AM

Save 48% on a 50″ TV stand

Walmart is offering huge savings on a TV stand. Right now, you can grab the Altra Winlen 50″ TV stand with 2 bins for $69. Walmart’s list price on this TV stand is $134, so Walmart is saving you $65. Amazon matches this price!

The Altra Winlen 50″ TV stand features two fabric bins offering plenty of storage space. This TV stand comes equipped with a two-tone dark brown espresso outer frame and light brown inner shelves. This TV stand can support a TV up to 55lbs. Customers give this TV an average customer rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars.

Walmart offers free two-day shipping on this item.

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7 brilliantly slick ways to get Amazon Prime for free

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 1:59 PM

Amazon's Echo speaker with Alexa has the most integrations with "smart home" gadgets. The Google Home offers the search company's powerful AI and home automation. Apple HomePod promises better sound quality from a nicer speaker.

You don’t have to fork over $99 to become an Amazon Prime member. You can actually take advantage of Prime benefits without having to spend a penny. Here are seven ways you can get free Amazon Prime membership:

1. Get an Amazon Prime Free Trial

You can try an Amazon Prime free trial membership if you don’t already have an account. After your Amazon Prime 30-day trial is over, you will be converted to a monthly subscription.

Amazon will offer you a free, 30-day trial each year. Should you cancel after your Amazon Prime trial, you’ll have to wait 12 months for another chance to try it for free.

>> Convenience stores getting squeezed by fast food, dollar stores

2. Get an Amazon Prime Student Membership Trial

College students are privy to some great deals on credit cards, checking accounts and more. Students can also get an Amazon Prime free trial student program for six months. After the trial ends, you’re eligible to pay only $5.49 per month for the service (for four years or until you graduate, whichever comes first).

3. Share Amazon Prime With Your Family

Amazon Household is a smart choice when you need Amazon Prime for the long haul. If your roommate or parents have Amazon Prime, Amazon Household allows you to share your benefits with up to one other adult, four teens and four children in your household. All family members create and use their own logins and passwords. Children and teens can shop on their own, but parents must approve the order with a simple text.

4. Earn Cash Back With the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card

At this time, no credit cards come with a complimentary Amazon Prime membership. Amazon, however, offers a Prime Rewards Visa Card and an Amazon store card. Each will get you 5 percent back cash back when you shop at Amazon.com, you’ll pay no annual fees and there are no earning caps. If you spend $2,000 over the course of the year on your Amazon credit card you’ll earn $100 cash back, which will pay for your Amazon Prime membership.

>> Prices fall when this grocer comes to town, new study finds

Amazon also offers the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, which has no annual fee and enables you to earn:

  • 3 percent cash back when you shop at Amazon.com
  • 2 percent cash back at restaurants
  • 2 percent cash back at gas stations and drugstores
  • 1 percent cash back on all of your other purchases

You can see your rewards balance when you check out at Amazon.com and you don’t need a minimum balance to redeem them. You can use your rewards to purchase millions of items through Amazon.

5. Save on Amazon Prime Day

For the past three years, Amazon has celebrated “Prime Day” with a one-day sale on Amazon products like the Echo and Fire TV Stick, and electronics such as laptops, televisions, tablets and smartphones. Amazon will announce Amazon Prime Day in July 2018, and although it’s only available for Prime subscribers, you can use a free Prime trial to shop the great sales.

6. Become an Amazon Associate

Consider becoming an Amazon Associate. By doing this, you’ll earn a “bounty,” or bonus, when eligible customers complete certain actions, like registering for a third-party video subscription, creating an Amazon Baby Industry or signing up for an Amazon Prime free trial.

For 2018, you’ll get $3 for each person who registers for the Prime free trial. Refer just three people per month and you’ll pay for the cost of your annual membership.

>> Amazon will buy Target this year, analyst predicts

7. Utilize Amazon Prime Discount Membership Options

An Electronic Benefits Transfer card might qualify you for a Prime membership for $5.99 per month. The following programs will qualify you:

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
  • Women, Infants and Children
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Other programs by state

Amazon uses a state-of-the-art algorithm that automatically matches or beats competitors’ prices, which means there are numerous ways to save money on Amazon year-round. Keep an eye out for more ways to save on your favorite items.

Sign up for Amazon Prime trial.

The AJC may receive a commission for purchases made through some links in this article.

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Prices fall when this grocer comes to town, new study finds

Published: Sunday, January 14, 2018 @ 1:08 PM

Could Lidl come to your neighborhood?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When the German grocer Lidl enters a new market, other grocery stores respond by lowering prices to stay competitive, according to a new study from UNC-Chapel Hill.

The low-priced grocer made a splash this summer when it first entered the U.S. with stores in the Carolinas and Virginia. Experts have said its effect could be as significant as Amazon’s is on other retailers. According to the UNC study, competing grocers near Lidl stores set their prices 9.3 percent lower on average than in markets where Lidl is not present.

The report, commissioned by Lidl, was conducted independently by UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, and researchers had full discretion of the study without Lidl’s input, according to Katrijn Gielens, an associate professor of marketing at UNC who led the study.

» How to spend $25 or less on one week of groceries

Still, the findings skewed favorably for Lidl over competitors, including Aldi, Food Lion, Walmart, Publix and Kroger.

“Without a doubt, (Lidl is) putting extra pressure on retail prices,” Gielens said in a call with reporters Wednesday.

The study examined 48 commonly purchased private label products from a variety of categories, including dairy products, meats, produce, canned food and frozen goods. It examined Lidl stores and competitors in six markets in the Carolinas and Virginia.

The study found that supermarkets in proximity to Lidl stores set their grocery prices up to 55 percent cheaper compared with stores in markets without Lidls. (Competing stores were within a 1.7-mile radius of the nearest Lidl, according to the study.)

» If you think grocery stores are playing tricks on you, they really are

“The University of North Carolina study validates what we have seen on the ground in every market since launching our stores,” Lidl spokesman Will Harwood said in an email.

As Lidl continues to expand throughout the U.S., other grocers will continue to slash prices, according to the study.

“It is not yet clear who the retail winners will be as the grocery price wars evolve, but there is little doubt that consumers will benefit as retailers are forced to continue dropping prices and offer more convenient shopping services in order to stay competitive,” the study stated.

This summer, the Observer conducted an analysis of the lowest prices of five staple items – a dozen large eggs, a gallon of skim milk, a loaf of white bread, ketchup and 1 pound of lean ground beef – at nine Charlotte grocery stores. We found that Aldi had the cheapest total: $7.69. At Lidl, which expanded here after the analysis, that same list of items was $6.29.

» Walmart sets its sights on shopping via virtual reality

The UNC study revealed that consumers experience significant cost-savings when shopping in areas where Lidl has already expanded. Here are some additional results about cost-saving in Lidl markets:

—Aldi lowered prices by an average of 13.9 percent (savings of $14).

—Food Lion lowered prices by an average of 13.6 percent (savings of $17).

—Kroger lowered prices by an average of 10.1 percent (savings of $22).

—Publix lowered prices by an average of 3.9 percent (savings of $7).

—Walmart lowered prices by an average of 2.5 percent (savings of $3).

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Everything you wanted to know about holiday returns

Published: Sunday, December 31, 2018 @ 3:18 PM

1. Athlete collage t-shirts 2. NFL salt crystal lamp 3. Potty basketball 4. LeBron James ornament 5. Movie character uniforms 6. Team pacifiers 7. Sports-themed yarmulke 8. Glitter stiletto heels with team logos 9. Sandwich press that presses logos 10. NFL team slow cooker

Was the holiday gift you received the wrong size, or just not what you hoped for?

The good news is you have extra time to return that ill-fitting sweater or those duplicate games. The bad news? The specifics of many retailers’ return policies don’t usually change just because it’s the holidays.

“As a general rule of thumb, for holiday returns, the only real difference tends to be is you have a longer window for returning the item. Where people maybe get tripped up is that all the other requirements tend to stay in place,” said Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing with DealNews.

» Got a gift card this holiday? Here’s how to spend it wisely

Some stores, like Nordstrom, LL Bean and Kohl’s have fairly consumer-friendly exchange policies, but other retailers like the Apple Store, Best Buy and Sears have rigid policies, and some may have a restocking fee on certain items, said Sakraida and Donna Rosato, money editor for Consumer Reports.

If you have a return, check the store’s website so you understand the policy ahead of time. That may save you time and effort when trying to bring something back. Sakraida and Rosato offered tips on how to make returning a gift less of a hassle.

Bring a receipt. Having the receipt will make the exchange much less stressful, they said. Returning an item right away with the receipt in hand will most likely result in you getting cash back, Sakraida said.

“If you go outside of that (holiday return) window, many do really push for store credit because that’s their store policy,” she said.

If you don’t have a receipt, you may only get store credit and you also may only get back the lowest price the item sold for recently, Rosato said.

If the product was bought online, it may be a bit harder to return since any exchanges are usually tied to the buyer’s account, Sakraida said. Most retailers that have physical and online presences are fine with returning a product bought online to their bricks-and-mortar location, she added.

If you’re trying to return seasonal items, like holiday decorations, without a receipt, customer service agents might give you the side eye, Sakraida said. “Stores really don’t want to have those items returned because they are very difficult to move when you’ve returned them. Sometimes it’s met with a bit of skepticism, like if you bought it to use it and returned it,” she said.

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Bring ID. Don’t be surprised (or offended) if a store asks to see an ID when you’re making a return, especially if you don’t have a receipt. It’s a way for stores to combat theft, as some thieves try to return a stolen item and get cash for it, Sakraida said.

Rosato said some chains, including Best Buy and Victoria’s Secret, use computerized return-authorization systems to detect abuse. “Merchants scan and store data from your ID to track your history, noting such factors as the frequency of your returns, their dollar value, how often you return items without a receipt, and the time between returns,” she said.

Don’t open the box. Leave on tags, keep boxed items — especially electronics — intact if you think you might return it. Opened merchandise may be subject to a restocking fee, often 15 percent of the purchase price, Rosato said. For products like software and games, retailers may not take back opened items unless they’re defective.

Go early and be nice. Tensions can run a little high in stores after the holidays, so it pays to be nice to store employees and go early if you need to return something.

“One of the biggest tips I would give someone for returning something after the holidays is to do whatever you can to have a good, positive interaction with a customer service agent,” Sakraida said.

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Try to go early, when the store has just opened and it’s not busy yet. If customer service agents aren’t swamped, they may be a little more accommodating in helping you, even if you don’t have a receipt. When they have time, they may be able to look up the purchase if it was made with a credit card. They also might have a little bit of flexibility within the return policy, she said.

Agents are trained to help customers get what they need, but that can be harder at 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday when there’s a long line of aggravated people, she said.

“Customer service people definitely take a beating, as shoppers tend to come in with their own personal frustrations and take it out on one person when they’re frustrated with the store at large. And the agents have to grin and bear it. I think they’re appreciative when people are reasonable,” she said.

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Got a gift card this holiday? Here’s how to spend it wisely

Published: Sunday, December 31, 2018 @ 3:10 PM

1. Wal-Mart and other big box retailers 2. Order a digital gift online 3. Buy late at night from CVS or Walgreens

Chances are, you received a gift card as a holiday present.

Before rushing to spend it, think about how to make it work best for you. As it turns out, we can be our own worst enemy when it comes to using these payment methods.

A November study from commerce-technology firm First Data showed the average consumer spent $38 more than the value on their gift card, up $10 from 2016. In its 2017 Prepaid Consumer Insights Study, based on the responses of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers, the firm found that 44 percent of consumers visit a store they would not have visited otherwise because of a gift card, and 53 percent are likely to visit a store more often as the result of receiving one.

» Where to buy gift cards at the last minute

These results aren’t surprising, said James Roberts, professor of marketing at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, and the author of “Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy.”

“We’re going to be more free with our spending when … we didn’t generate the money that’s paying for it. The fact that we’re paying with a credit card-like mechanism, (means) we’re not going to be as mindful of the price. We’ll overpay or spend more money than we would otherwise,” Roberts said.

There are some ways to be a better spender when using gift cards.

As tempting as it may be to immediately spend the card, cool it for a moment, he said.

» 5 Christmas traditions that aren't as traditional as you think

“Wait for the newness and the excitement of having free money settle down a little bit. Look at it as if this is just like real money or cash; we should be patient,” he said.

Roberts said consider how you might want to use the gift card. If you’re looking to buy a particular item, do your research on the price. Without a reference point on a product’s price, people are likely to buy the first one they see at whatever price it is, “especially with a gift card,” he added.

Since many gift cards are store-issued, it’s possible the item you’re contemplating may be more expensive at that retailer than others. In that case, Roberts said, look for something else.

Mousumi Bose Godbole, professor of marketing at Fairfield University, said to be more mindful, think about what kind of need you want to fulfill with the card, especially if you tend to shop a little more than the average person. Ask yourself: Will this gratify a short-term need, or can I defer the purchase to satiate a need later? Am I really looking for a specific product or am I just spending money?

Put some thought behind generating a shopping list, particularly for avid shoppers. That contemplation gives you some guidance about why you want to buy an item, she said.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun shopping, whether online or in stores. Just remember there’s a difference between shopping, which is making an informed decision, and buying, which is spending the actual money. Shop to your heart’s content, she said, just be reflective before you slap down the card.

» If it costs $25.3 billion to be Santa, who could afford it?

What if the gift card is from a store you don’t like or don’t frequent? You have a few options. Some stores may accept it as a return if you have the receipt and it’s unused. Many websites let you sell unwanted gift cards, Roberts said, but you won’t receive face value for the card, maybe only 85 to 90 percent of the value.

You could buy something for another person, Bose Godbole said. “Can this card be used for other alternatives such as helping others,” she suggested.

Another good reason to wait to use the gift card is for the final markdown sales in January, which can give shoppers a little more mileage. It’s a good compromise between wanting to use the card right away and taking some time to figure out what you might want to buy.

“If we have something in mind, maybe wait for the new year. January is a slow time for retailers, so you’re likely to find better bargains. If you wait until the new year, it will go a lot further,” Roberts said.

And take a partner or a parent with you if you have a habit of overspending, especially if that person is likely to keep you in line.

“Our research shows if we’re with our spouses or with our parents, we’re much less likely to spend in a profligate manner than when we’re by ourselves or shop with friends. Shopping with friends is like throwing fuel on the fire,” he said.

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