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Is that price a good deal or not?

So you’re shopping online, and want to know if you’re getting a good deal on something. It’s pretty easy to shop around, and check multiple web sites to see how they’re pricing an item. But sometimes prices change over time, and wouldn’t it be nice to know if pricing on the item is relatively stable, or if it’s something that frequently goes on sale for less?

Enter the Camelizer.

Install the Camelizer extension on Firefox, and when you visit sites like Amazon and Newegg, you can check an item’s pricing history while shopping. I can search Amazon for an AMD Phenom II 560 CPU, and see that today it sells for $89.95. I can click on the Camelizer, and immediately I can see that the cheapest Amazon has ever sold that chip for is $88.95, on 23 August. I can also see that third parties have sold that chip for as little as $50.53. Interesting. Then I can look on the graph, and get an idea whether that was a one-time thing, or something that seems to happen often. In this case, it looks like it was a one-time thing.

Then I can go to Newegg and check the history there, and see they’ve never sold the chip for less than $91.99. For most of its lifespan it’s been about a $100 CPU, and pricing ticked up to $113 back in April, and slowly stairstepped down to its current level of $91.99 in June and stayed there.

So, for $89.95 on Amazon, the chip isn’t a bad deal. But it’s also a deal with no great urgency.

Let’s look at another example. As I write, the Athlon II x2 255 is on sale at Newegg for $61.99. Is that a good deal? Click on the Camelizer, and you can see the regular price is $62.99, and it was $57.99 back in June. So, yes, it’s a discount. A slight discount. The free shipping is a bigger deal than the discount. And it has a history of being discounted more heavily. So now you know its regular price, and the best price it’s been recently, and can decide if there’s enough difference to influence your decision whether to buy, wait, or buy something else.

And if you want a laugh, let the Camelizer give you pricing history on memory. A Kingston 4 GB DDR3 DIMM that’s on sale as I write for $21.99 sold for $469.99 back in October 2009. Talk about depreciation!

How about something more obscure? Newegg has a USB Bluetooth adapter on sale for $12.99. Not something you buy every day. Good deal, or ho-hum? Newegg says the regular price is $29.95, but Camelizer says the highest they’ve ever priced it is $24.99 in February 2010. In November 2010, it was $9.99, and it’s been sitting at $12.99 all summer. If it’s a deal, it’s because shipping is free today.

Sometimes a sale isn’t a sale.

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