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Make a New Year’s Resolution: Take Advantage of Competition

This is an article produced by the Competition Bureau. We are hosting it for consumers and although PIAC was not involved in its writing, it offers great advice. 

This is the time of year when money gets tighter as the bills come in for holiday expenses, but with a little research, consumers can reap the benefits of competition and ease the post-holiday pain with some extra savings. These savings can be had across the spectrum in nearly every kind of service or product. Here are some examples:

  • Consumer loyalty to the financial institution holding their mortgage is costing Canadians between $759 and $1,617 a year, a 2012 Bank of Canada study reported. It found that consumers who compared interest rates received a lower rate — even if they stayed with their home bank.
  • A 2013 study from the Journal of Consumer Affairs suggested that while some consumers routinely buy the same brand of frequently purchased packaged foods, they could save 10% merely by selecting between two brands of these foods.

The more consumers compare different options when shopping, the more likely they will reap the benefits of competition.

Shopping To Save

Decide What You Really Need. Decide what specific features or options you require and how much you are prepared to spend. Consult evaluation guides and specialized publications for information regarding products and services to ensure that you receive the quality that you are paying for. Comparison websites can be a handy tool to research your options. Consult multiple sources and search for reviews over a wide range of time. For the most unbiased or independent sources of information, consult consumer review publications. Tools such as the Canadian Consumer Handbook can help you decide on what you want.

Shop around. Take your time. Consider switching brands or suppliers. Loyalty doesn’t always pay. A few phone calls could save you a significant amount of money and there’s no downside to negotiating for a lower price. When comparing prices, beware that some merchants, especially those online, apply shipping fees and handling charges at the end of the transaction.

Stay focused on the options and features you want. Don’t be distracted by discounts that might lead you to buy a product that you don’t actually want. Be wary that online endorsements may not tell the whole story.

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