Today’s Star columnist: Martin Lewis

Money-saving expert Martin Lewis.
Money-saving expert Martin Lewis.
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Santa is nearly ready to start climbing down chimneys, and many of us are ready to start climbing the walls with preparation for the big day. 

Each year as we near the festive season, more and more people shift to buying online.

The common myth is that online is cheaper, and in general it is, yet the web isn’t just a homogenous gloop of similarity, different stores have different prices and using the right tactics and techniques can massively cut your costs. Yet these tips aren’t just for Christmas, they work all year round too…

You have MORE rights buying online. Buy goods instore and you don’t have aright to change your mind.

While some stores do allow you to return goods, by law you can only take them back if they’re faulty.

However, if you buy goods online you have an absolute no fault right of return, as long as you send them back within 14 days. And you should get the cost of postage to you back as well – although you may have to pay for the cost of sending it back.

This disparity of rights is causing a nightmare for high streets, as many people are starting to realise that if they browse in store but order online, they’re betterprotected.

Bag hidden local eBay bargains as gifts. eBay sell-ers often specify items, from bikes to PS4s, as ‘collection only’ – they get fewer bids so prices are lower. You can’t search for them on eBay, so I built the www.mse.me/ ebaymapper and the eBay Deals iPhone and Android apps to find them.

Use shopbots to find the cheapest online prices. 

A shopbot, or shopping robot, is a comparison site that searches a range of e-tailers to find the cheapest price, including delivery, in the same time it takes to search at just one e-store.

Different sites are good for different things, but I’d suggest www.kelkoo.co.uk, www.foundem.co.uk andwww.megashopbot.com for general purposes and then specific sites like www.bookbrain.co.uk for books.

Check out web outlets for up to 80 per cent off deals, including Argos, M&S & Tesco.

Ban unnecessary Christmas presents. Far too many people are doing tit-for-tat giving at this time of year – this ends up with many of us giving tat.