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Good price doesn't mean good value

Deciding among sales, discounts and deals isn't always about the price.

By Karen Datko Feb 5, 2010 12:31PM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.


A steep discount doesn’t mean a thing when the item or service you’re paying for isn’t worth that amount of money.


“Price is what you pay -- value is what you get,” says Steven Cohen, president of The Negotiation Skills Company, a Massachusetts-based for-hire consultancy that helps clients negotiate for better deals. Comparing prices is an important first step, but smart shoppers should ask four more questions, he says: Why do I want this? How much do I need it? Is there a more affordable or more appropriate alternative? What kind of value will I get?


Price and value intersected for me on a recent weekend at the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival in New York. I purchased two VIP tickets (regularly $95 each) late last year for $55 via collective-buying site, snagging a 42% discount. Anticipated value: a great 60th-birthday outing for my dad, who appreciates the food and beverages the festival is named for. In hindsight, we got extra value in the deal. The venue was so crowded that several stands ran out of food before the four-hour event finished, which would have been extremely annoying (not to mention value-sapping) on a $95 ticket.

We’re featuring valuable coupons and sales each Friday to help you spend less on the items you buy. Found a deal we missed or looking for a better price on a specific item? E-mail me at or send me a tweet @kellibgrant.


Armani Exchange. Click on the online sale section to save up to 50% on men's and women's tops, bottoms, outerwear and accessories. (For the biggest savings, check the "30% Off Styles Section," which features sale items -- already up to 50% off -- that will receive a bonus 30% discount at checkout.) Pair it with coupon code AX0105 at checkout to get free shipping and an extra 5% off your order total.


BlackBerry Curve 8500 series. Free phones with a two-year contract aren’t uncommon, but Best Buy is upping the ante. Through Feb. 14, the retailer is offering 500 bonus points in its free reward program when you purchase a BlackBerry Curve 8500 series with a print coupon. The program offers a $5 store certificate for every 250 points earned, so that bonus amounts to $10 back. Before the bonus, a BlackBerry Curve 8350 is already free on Verizon; the 8520 on T-Mobile or AT&T is $30.


Caveat emptor: The bonus is good only on new activations, meaning you must be switching carriers or opening a new line. The BlackBerry Curve 8500s are also nearly a year old -- although not yet ancient in cell phone terms; it’s worth looking around to make sure there isn’t a newer handset that better fits your needs.


Xbox 360. is currently offering a $25 site gift card when you purchase the $200 console. You’ll also get free shipping and pay no sales tax. Prefer to get your Xbox in-store? Target has a similar promotion giving away a $20 store gift card when you buy at the store. (Online the retailer offers free shipping instead of the card -- obviously less of a bargain.)


J.C. Penney. During the J.C. Penney Bonus Buys sale through Feb. 6, save up to 50% on baby gear and 80% on “Red Zone” clearance items throughout the store. Save an extra 15% on fine jewelry already marked down 40% to 60%. Maximize savings with a print-out coupon to save $10 on a purchase of $50 or more or save $15 on a purchase of $75 or more.


Too busy preparing for and watching the Super Bowl to shop? On Monday or Tuesday, use a print-out coupon good for a "Friends and Family" 20% discount.


Related reading at SmartMoney:



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