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Cyber Monday Deals 2014

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What is Cyber Monday?

A brief explanation of how Cyber Monday came about, and some statistics on how big it has become.
This site talks about Cash Back programs, which have their roots in loyalty programs. For years, people have been buying membership into clubs like Sams or Costco in order to save money. They pay for an annual membership. The customer believes that the money he saves buying stuff in that store will more than pay for the cost of the annual membership.

Loyalty programs are somewhat different. In my wallet, I carry one single card that I typed up and laminated, and it has on it my rewards club numbers for hotels like Hyatt, Marriott, Holiday Inn, and rental car programs like Hertz, Avis, and National. And of course, you almost need a loyalty card to buy groceries these days, or otherwise you are overpaying. A loyalty member presents his card or number at the time of reservation or purchase. The company running the loyalty program keeps track of the purchases, and often awards points based on the amount spent or types of packages purchased. Eventually, the loyalty member is able to get a free night in a hotel, a prize from the company, or a discount. Where I live, Kroger and Tom Thumb grocery stores tempt buyers with big discounts on buying gas at the pump.

Of course, by being part of a loyalty program, you open yourself to data mining. The store does really care about your individual purposes. They are looking at the results of what the masses are doing. For example, if they find the people that buy organic shampoo also by protein bars, they might even put those products closer together in the store. This can actually help the consumer. However, I love the saying about Facebook: "If you don't pay for the service, you are not the customer, you are the product." All these companies accumulate massive amounts of data in their database, often called "data warehouses". Companies like Facebook allow people to market directly to you, based on which pages you have liked. When you "like" a page, you are basically joining it, or joining a group, and that typically advertises to the world that you have some interest in that group. Then marketers running ads and boosting posts can target for example, ladies in Atlanta, Missiippi, and Alabama over 50 that have liked pages that contain the word "gun". Why do you think all those ads seem targeted directly to you?

Look at Groupon, and how wildly successful it has become. People willingly submit their email and name, and agree to be bombarded by daily, or multiple emails per day with dozens of different discounts. Group has of course become a billion dollar company. At the age of 50, I even bought dental work and braces for $2500 for Groupon.

When shopping online, almost every store will require you to register a userid and password. Many people have committed the sin of using the same password on multiple sites. While the site may be trusted, those passwords can sometimes be made available to employees. A clever and dishonest employee might try the same user/password to logon to other sites, or even various banks. If you don't have a unique password, you are opening yourself to a big time risk. A good site will, by the way, hash or encrypt the password, so even the employees cannot see it. However, as a customer, you can't know their internal operations, so be safe and pick a unique password; then use some tool like Roboform to remember the password for all your sites.

When Cybershopping, if you find a store that is unknown to you, before buying there, you should probably "Google" for reviews. While some customers will always complain, make sure that basically people are getting their products, delivery was not too slow, and that customer service was quick to respond.