Ebay Daily Deal – Olympus Stylus SZ-15

Ebay has a deal on an Olympus Stylus SZ-15 camera for $69.99 shipped. The seller is listed as db_roth with 96,159 ratings and a 98.8% positive rate.

db_roght rating ebay

Despite the fact that I just ordered a Canon ELPH that has yet to arrived, I’m interested in this deal. Olympus has a solid reputation. The price for their camera equipment has plummeted since their financial scandal in 2011. This situation has been horrible for Olympus but great for bargain hunters, looking to purchase best in class camera technology at rock bottom prices.

I’m also interested in this deal because I’ve always been fond of a more substantial camera. I like the the feeling of having a point and shoot smaller than a DSLR but large enough that it fills my hand and can’t fall out of my pocket without me feeling it. This camera also has a 24x optical zoom. I’m sure pictures look awful at the max focal length. It’s still a neat feature to have in a camera that costs a mere 70 dollars.

olympus stylus sz-15

 

How Does The Price Compare

  • The Olympus SZ-15 costs $40 more on Amazon.

olympus on amazon

  • The best price in Google Shopping is $100 shipped from B&H Photo.

It looks like the Ebay deal is hella good if you are in the market for an affordable point and shoot superzoom.

 

How Do The Reviews Look?

Unfortunately, the reviews are a little too mixed for me to bite when it is all said and done. I would be more inclined to gamble on it if I hadn’t just bought the Canon. That said, there are some glowing reviews for the SZ-15.

photographyblog

  • The overall rating on Amazon is 4 stars with 52 reviews. I’m a little more concerned with the distribution of the reviews than the overall number. 30 reviewers give the camera 5 stars, but 9 people give it 1 star. The ratio of 1 star reviews is higher than I would like.

amazon olympus reviews

  • The reviews get downright abysmal on Google. The SZ-15 has a pitiful 2.5 star rating with a combined total of 126 reviews. This is the final number that scared me away from giving this camera a try.

google ratings

 

Ebates Giveaway

ebates giveaway

I recently wrote a review of the cashback site Ebates. It’s one of my favorite cashback sites along with Shop Discover and Mr. Rebates. I use all three of these sites at various times, depending on which one has the highest cashback rate for a given merchant.

Today I’m writing about a cool giveaway from Ebates. If you refer at least two friends and they make a purchase using the site of at least $25, you will receive $50 and be entered for a chance to win a Hawaiian vacation. This latter part sounds amazing to me as I’ve been sweltering in the Texas Summer for a couple months now.

 

Details

  • Each referral you make counts as one entry for a maximum of up to five entries
  • The approximate retail value of the vacation is $25,000
  • In exchange for the vacation, participants might be eligible for a lump sum payment of $20,000
  • Selected winner is required to respond within 15 days
  • An alternative method of entry is to mail up to five 3×5 postcards
  • The contest ends on September 30th, 2014
  • The vacation is for 6 nights and 7 days

You can read the full terms here.

It is worth noting that Ebates is having their double cashback promo period for back to school.

double cashback for back to school

 

My main point in writing this article is hoping that you might signup through my link and increase my odds of winning the Hawaiian vacation. I assure you I need it and would enjoy it thoroughly.  I even sunk to a new low by soliciting my co-workers to signup with my referral link. Here is what I wrote to them.

Will one of you use my link to signup for Ebates and make a purchase of at least $25?

 

http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=ZvxSTVAc6lPHjmjA7yQFuQ%3D%3D&eeid=26471

 

It’s a good deal. They give you a gift card worth $5 or $10 when you signup. The site works in general by splitting the affiliate commission with you. I’m trying to earn a $50 bonus by referring two people. I will also be entered for a chance to win a dream vacation to Hawaii valued at approximately $25,000. Jeff already said he would signup, so I just need one of you…please

 

Ebates is currently having a double cashback period for back to school. You can earn twice the cashback from sites like Target and Best Buy.

I only feel moderately sad for having written this plea lol

Buydig Deal On Nikon D3300 Refurbished DSLR

Buydig has a Nikon D3300 DSLR with 18-55mm lens and Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 12 for $496.95 shipped after coupon code BCD500PX. The coupon takes an extra $50 off the original price of $546.95.

 

refurbished nikon d3300

 

How Much Are You Saving?

The new version of the Nikon D3300 kit costs $100 more on Amazon.

nikon d3300 amazon

 

Cameta Camera has the next best price on the refurbished Nikon D3300 kit. They charge $514 shipped. They also sell the body alone for $429 shipped. The Buydig deal is still $17 better for kit. I wouldn’t say this is the type of deal that you have to act on immediately or you will never find a price as low again. Of course, the Cameta deal doesn’t come with the Adobe software, so if that interest you, the Buydig deal looks substantially better.

cameta camera d3300

If you haven’t heard of Cameta Camera before, they are one of my favorite places to buy camera equipment. They are consistently one of the cheapest places on the Web to buy camera equipment. They also have a 97% favorable rating on Amazon with over 205,000 reviews. This is a pretty good indicator they are legit.

cameta camera amazon

 

How Good Is The Nikon D3300?

The Nikon D3300 is an entry level DSLR. That said, people love this camera. It has a 5 star rating on Amazon with 56 reviews. The four people who have reviewed it on Buydig also gave it 5 stars. Shoppers on Google seem to be a tad pickier and have given the D3300 a 4.5 star rating with slightly more than 30 reviews.

nikon d3300 google

 

When I looked more closely at the negative reviews on Google, all three were from Best Buy customers. These customers appeared to be idiots. One complained of bad pictures without saying much else. Another user complained that the range of the camera sucked with the provided lens. My solution to them is to buy another lens. The kit lens is only supposed to provide the most basic starter equipment.

 

What Are The Specs On The Nikon D3300 Kit From Buydig

  • 24.2 megapixels
  • CMOS sensor
  • 90 day refurbished warranty
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 12 included
  • 18-55mm lens

Overall, I would say the Nikon D3300 kit deal from Buydig is lukewarm. If you are just interested in the camera, you can find similar prices a variety of places. If the Adobe software is attractive to you, this deal is pretty good.

Several Canon Offers

The Canon direct store is offering some great deals on several refurbished products. Refurbished Canon products are usually new or just like new, so there is nothing to worry about when making these purchases. I have personally bought five Canon refurbished products and never had any trouble. The cost savings are usually significant.

 

1st Deal

The first offer I want to highlight is a Canon PowerShot ELPH 110 HS for $59.99 with free shipping. I personally bought one of these cameras for myself and one for my dad. I’d always wanted an ELPH for their combination of tiny size and great picture quality. A few years ago these cameras were consistently in the 300+ price range. God bless the ever falling price of technology. Compared to other cameras in this price range, you can’t go wrong.

canon ELPH 110

Quick Specs

  • 5x Optical Zoom
  • Comes in multiple colors (black, red, gray and blue)
  • 16.1 Megapixel
  • CMOS
  • 3 inch LCD screen
  • Refurbished like new
  • 1 Year Warranty

Here is how my receipt looked for the 110 HS.

canon elph receipt

 

2nd Deal

The second deal is for a refurbished 50mm DSLR lens f/1.8 for $70 shipped. This is my favorite lens for taking indoor shots. The image quality is significantly better than lenses I have that costs several times as much. This should be the first lens anyone buys when they take the leap to digital SLR cameras.

50mm canon lens

Like all refurbished Canon products, this lens comes with a full 1 year warranty.

 

3 Deal

Finally, you can buy a refurbished T3i 18 megapixel starter kit with an 18-55mm lens for just $336 with free shipping. This is the body that I currently use most of the time I’m just walking around taking pictures. It’s a hell of a bargain that is certain to not disappoint anyone on a budget. This body will launch you into the Canon ecosystem. This is an important first step since Canon and Nikon make the best consumer grade DSLR cameras out there. Other companies make perfectly good cameras, but I wouldn’t want to be out buying Sony or Samsung lenses. I just don’t have as much faith in the brand as I do with Canon and Nikon.

 

T3i Kit Specs

  • Full 1 year warranty
  • 18 megapixel
  • 18-55mm lens
  • Refurbished

Yeti Cooler Giveaway From Spirit Mag

Spiritmag.com, the magazine for Southwest Airlines, is giving away a Deep Eddy Vodka branded Yeti Cooler.

 

yeti cooler giveaway

 

This giveaway is particularly cool to me since both Yeti and Deep Eddy are companies based here in the Austin area. Yeti coolers are regarded as the best in the industry and priced as such. The value of this prize is estimated at $400. You can see a the full lineup of Yeti coolers on Amazon here.

 

Deep Eddy Vodka

Deep Eddy Vodka was introduced in 2011. Traditional, ruby red, cranberry and sweet tea flavors of vodka are available. The company is named after Deep Eddy Pool. I have a soft spot for the name because I briefly worked at this pool after college when I was desperate for work. It’s a cool place billed as the oldest man made pool in Texas. The water is spring fed and cold, but I digress.

 

Yeti Coolers

Yeti is also based in Austin. They are obviously named after the abominable snowman. Isn’t that cute! The phone and address are:

3411 Hidalgo St, Austin, TX 78702

(512) 394-9384

 

abominable-snowman

Amazon Deal On Samsung NX2000 20.3MP Camera

Amazon has a killer deal on a Samsung NX2000 20.3MP CMOS Smart WiFi 4/3rds camera. They are selling the body with a 20-50mm lens for $199.99 shipped. The list price  on this model is $649.99 and almost everyone else is selling it for $100 more.

samsung nx2000 on amazon

 

Comparison Prices

Even the refurbished versions of this camera with lens are selling for $279.99 on Amazon. New versions are going for $299.

nx2000 prices on amazon

The cheapest alternative listed in Google Shopping is $260. The Amazon deal beats this by $60.

nx2000 on google shopping

 

Reviews

The Samsung NX2000 has stellar reviews anywhere you look on the Web. It has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon with 46 customer reviews. There is a similar 4.5 star rating on Google Shopping with 28 reviews.

samsung nx2000 on google

Photographyblog gives this camera 4.5 star rating. PCMag gives it 3.5 stars. DigitalCamerReview.com gives is a 4 star rating.

 

samsung nx2000 reviews

 

Comparable Cameras

No comparable 4/3rds cameras are currently at this $200 price point. However, there are many good choices if you are willing to spend more.

  • The Olympus E-PM2 is a stellar choice. Those willing to buy the gray version can buy it for slightly over $300.
  • The Panasonic Lumix GX7 is an amazing camera, but you are looking t ospend closer to one thousand dollars for it.
  • Fuji has some great options, particularly in the form of the X-T1, but it costs a small fortune at $1300 for just the body alone.

 

Conclusion

The Amazon deal on the Samsung NX2000 for $200 shipped with a 20mm-50mm lens is the best I’ve seen. The only comparably priced cameras I’ve seen in this category are the Nikon 1 J1 cameras. Those cameras were relatively obsolete though with just 10.1MP. The Samsung deal is for a camera that has been on the market for barely a year. The only aspect that would concern me is being stuck with the Samsung architecture. While they make great electronics in many areas, the brand isn’t as proven as Nikon, Canon or even Olympus and Fuji. The real costs from cameras with interchangeable lenses usually arise from buying new lenses and not the initial investment in the body with stock lens. Still, it would be hard to go wrong at this very attractive price point.

Tire Rack Affiliate Program

tire rack logo

I’ve been on a kick of writing about different automotive related affiliate programs. Two of the best programs for aftermarket parts are from Advance Auto Parts and Autozone. Those two programs pay roughly 8%. Tire Rack sells some products that overlap with the aforementioned stores, like wiper blades and brakes, but their bread and butter products are tires and wheels. I know you are shocked since the company is named Tire Rack.

 

Tire Rack Affiliate Program

Tire Rack runs their affiliate program on Commission Junction. It’s apparent by looking at the terms of service that lawyers play an important role at Tire Rack. Their terms of service comes in at 17 pages long. It probably took a highly paid attorney a week to write. Here are the pertinent details of the program.

  • 6% commission on all sales.
  • Nexus rules are big in their TOS with partners from Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virgina explicitly banned.
  • Average order value of $400 (I am surprised this number isn’t a little higher given the product mix).
  • 60 day tracking cookie.
  • They are oddly selective about who they work with. My application was declined and they don’t appear to be part of Viglink either. Of course, they work with Retailmenot. I also see them listed on loyalty sites, like Mr. Rebates.
  • Daniel Gersey is listed as the affiliate contact. They appear to manage the program in-house since affiliates@tirerack.com is listed as the contact address. Based upon Daniel’s Linkedin page, he appears to be making a career of it, having been at Tire Rack for 11.5 years. He is listed as the Online Media Buyer.
  • The program as listed at the highest 5 bar earning level with an EPC (earnings per 100 clicks) average of over $70 for both the 7 day and 3 month average.

tire rack affiliate program numbers

Signup Link – https://signup.cj.com/member/brandedPublisherSignUp.do?air_refmerchantid=1463221

 

Company Overview

Tire Rack was founded in 1979 and is based in Southbend, Indiana. As a geographic reference point, this is the same Southbend where the University of Notre Dame is located. The company has an impressive 4.5 star rating with 51 reviews on Yelp. Their sales model is different than most companies that sell tires. The customer orders the tires over the Internet and uses an independent installer. Obviously, the model works for them as they have over 150 employees. Employees have a favorable opinion of working for the company on Glassdoor. With 10 reviews, it receives a 3.5 star rating. Since the company is privately held and somewhat secretive, financial details are hard to find. There is, however, a fascinating write up from USA Today.

 

Address:

7101 Vorden Pkwy, South Bend, IN 46628

Phone:

(574) 232-4614

 

Competing Affiliate Programs

TireBuyer.com is the strongest competing affiliate program to Tire Rack.  They pay the same 6% commission rate and advertise a similar AOV. Their claimed EPC is a whipping $139.

Shop Discover Review

shop discover

I recently wrote reviews of Mr. Rebates and Ebates. They are both excellent sites to take advantage of the cashback opportunities afforded by affiliate marketing. Shop Discover does exactly the same thing, but the rates are often higher because merchants are often willing to offer more cashback to Discover Card customers. Another reason that the rates are higher is that Discover Card is less interested in taking a cut for themselves. Their main objective is to add cashback as an attractive feature to current and prospective customers.

 

How Does Shop Discover Work?

Cashback sites work by passing affiliate commissions on to the consumer. That means that the folks at Shop Discover join a merchants affiliate program through one of the major networks (Commission Junction, Shareasale, Linkshare, etc.). After they join, they are provided unique tracking links. A cookie is placed in the users browser when the link is clicked. When the user makes a purchase, a pixel on the merchant’s confirmation page sends the sale data back to the network. The cashback site, Shop Discover, has an API setup to match that data back to the user on their side.

You can test what I say by clicking on most any merchants link. When I click on the Art.com link at Shop Discover, I see this popup:

art.com shopdiscover

After the link resolves, I see this URL:

http://www.art.com/?AIDCJ=10716080&PIDCJ=2387181&SIDCJ=1029240098&RFID=547673

Pretty much anytime you see AID in a link, that stands for affiliate ID. We can also see that Art.com puts the PID and SID from Commission Junction. Here is a classic example of a merchant willing to pass on more cashback to Discover Card customers than they would through the traditional affiliate channel. When I look at Art.com’s listing in Commission Junction, their standard commission rate is 5%. They are passing on twice this amount to consumers that use Shop Discover.

Something interesting I’ve noticed about Shop Discover is after I login and click on the affiliate link, their system doesn’t actually make me use my Discover Card to receive the Shop Discover cashback rate. This can be particularly handy when a different credit card is offering a higher rate. E.G. my Bank of America credit card gives me 2.5% on all purchases.

 

How Does The Cashback Rate From Shop Discover Compare

A big difference with Shop Discover compared to other cashback sites, like Mr. Rebates or Ebates, is that the latter sites work with almost 10 times as many merchants. Shop Discover currently only works with roughly 200 of the largest merchants. Shop Discover cashback rates go in increments of 5%. Stores offer cashback rates of 5%, 10%, 15% or 20%. The reality is which site offers the most cashback with a given merchant will vary over time. On average, Shop Discover is typically better than most other sites.

Mooosejaw currently offers 5% cashback through Ebates.

ebates moosejaw

Cashback for Moosejaw from Mr. Rebates is currently at 10%.

mrrebates moosejaw

 

Cashback for Moosejaw from Shop Discover is currently at 10% too.

 

moosejaw shopdiscover

 

The Moosejaw example illustrates the need to check out the individual rate amongst several cashback sites if you are dedicated to finding the highest cashback rate. My article on cashback monitoring sites can help with this.

 

What Merchants Are On Shop Discover?

Shop Discover currently works with slightly over 200 different merchants. Compared to your average cashback site, this is a rather small number. You can download a spreadsheet of all the merchants they work with as of July, 2014 here.

Some merchants of note are Walmart (5%) and Target (5%). They work with other cashback sites, but 5% is the best rate I know. Since that is the minimum amount of cashback a merchant can offer to work with Shop Discover, their rates are likely to stay this generous too.

 

Summary

Shop Discover is a great cashback site if you have a Discover Card. Many merchants offer more cashback through Shop Discover than you will find from competing cashback sites. The biggest problem with Shop Discover is the fact that it works with relatively few stores (a little over 200). Fortunately, they continue to add merchants every year and the largest sites already participate.

JC Whitney Affiliate Program

jc whitney logo

 

I’ve found myself on a kick of writing about auto parts affiliate programs. For reference, you can find my article on the Advance Auto Parts Affiliate Program here and the Autozone Affiliate Program here. Today I’m going to write about the JC Whitney Affiliate Program.

 

Company Background

JC Whitney is one of the oldest auto parts retailers. The company was founded in 1915 as a scrap metal yard in Chicago. Headquarters were moved to LaSalle, Illinois in the 1990s. A private equity firm named The Riverside Company purchase JC Whintey in 2002. The main property was combined with CarParts.com, StylinTrucks.com, and AllBikeSupershop.com to create the Whitney Automotive Group in 2007. The group was purchased by US Auto Parts in 2010. As you can see, there are many sister sites that are part of the larger parent company.

 

JC Whitney Affiliate Program

Partners have the choice of working with JC Whitney through Link Connector or Commission Junction. It looks like it is better to join through CJ because the commission rate is listed as 8%-10% as opposed to the 8% rate listed on Link Connector. It’s also interesting that the official affiliate page on the JC Whitney site only missions the Commission Juntion program. I suspect this has to do with how much larger CJ is.

Commission Junction Signup Link

Link Connector Signup Link

 

When I look at the JC Whitney program stats in CJ, I can see that it is a four bar (high earning) program. The EPC (earnings per 100 clicks) tends to be in the $15 range. This latter number is on the low side unless they don’t work with coupon sites that tend to skew all the numbers. I tested this by searching for “JC Whitney Coupon” and clicking on one of the links. The resolved link has affiliate tracking on it, so they work with coupon sites through their affiliate program.

 

http://www.jcwhitney.com/?TID=101&AID=10429361&PID=2210202&SID=uuuA85FE64D-61A9-A93B-5CED-E034C4C12DE8&cj=1&flexid=&JCW_SRC=AFF&CID=193220

jc whitney cj stats

The additional earning tiers are as such:

8% – $0-$4,999

9% – $5,000-$9,999

10% – $10,000

Whenever you see revenue tiers like this, the merchant is referencing earnings in a given month.

 

Fiscal Health

U.S. Auto Parts, owner of JC Whitney, is a publicly traded stock, but just barely. The stock was trading under a dollar a share during parts of July 2013. Fortunately, it has rebounded in 2014 and now trades at $3.39 a share for a market cap of 113 million dollars. Considering the Whitney Automative Group sold for 27.5 million, the U.S. Auto Parts group is substantially larger than the former company. When compared to the likes of Autozone, Advance Auto Parts, O’Reilly Automotive, Inc, JC Whitney is a much, much smaller company. It would be far easier for them to teeter to the brink than any of the aforementioned multi-billion dollar companies.

 

us auto parts stock

Refurbished Nikon D3200 DSLR With 18-55 Lens For $320 On Ebay

Buydig via Ebay has a great deal today on an entry level Nikon D3200 DSLR kit. This deal is scheduled to expire on July 2, 2014. For $320 shipped you will receive the D3200 body and an 18-55mm lens with image stabilization.

d3200 refurbished nikon

Why I Like This Deal

  • $320 is a highly affordable price point for many. Photography isn’t a cheap hobby. Taking the step from point and shoot cameras to using a DSLR is a night and day different for many shots. Investing in a DSLR now can allow you to build a hobby for life.
  • When you buy a DSLR, you are committing yourself to that company’s equipment. Personally, I’d only invest in either Nikon or Canon DSLR cameras. Sure, you can find great offerings from Sony and Pentax. I still couldn’t in good faith recommend going in this latter direction. The options and future prospects for Canon and Nikon are so superior, it isn’t worth it to commit to a different company’s architecture.
  • Ebay deals can make me nervous. I was burned a couple times in the past buying from some no name sellers with little to no feedback. Fortunately, this deal is actually being sold by BuyDig. They are one of the most respected names in eCommerce based camera sales. They advertise themselves as the Internet’s digital superstore. I don’t hold this uninspired catch phrase against them since they have a great selection with good prices. They are currently ranked as the 13,811 most popular site on the Web by Alexa. They also have 311,000 pages indexed by Google. This latter number is a good representation of how many products they offer.

buydig seo numbers

How Does This Deal Compare

BuyDig itself sells the new version of the D3200 kit for $476.95. By buying the refurbed version through the Ebay offer, you are saving over $150. I personally have no problem buying refurbished camera equipment at this level. In my experience, it has offered a tremendous value proposition, but I can say that because I’ve never been burned by it.

nikon d3200 kit on buydig

 

Even the same refurbished version of the Nikon D3200 costs almost $60 more from Buydig directly.

buydig d3200 refurb

 

Amazon charges $476.95 for the new version of the D3200 with the 18 to 55 mm lens. Their best price for the refurbished version is $375, meaning the Buydig deal via Ebay is still $55 better.

amazon nikon d3200 price

 

Conclusion

The refurbished Nikon D3200 kit with 18-55 mm image stabilized lens from Buydig via Ebay is a best of web price by at least $50. If you are in the market for an entry level DSLR kit that will launch you into the Nikon ecosystem at a low price point.