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Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days sale: Apple iPhone X sees price drop, Google Pixel 2 sees 34% discount

Starting noon on December 7, Flipkart launched a two-day ‘Big Shopping Days’ sale with massive discounts across categories and brands. The star attractions of the sale are: Apple iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 mobile phones.

Flipkart went live at 12 PM with a limited stock sale on Apple iPhone X handsets. The sale started from a price point of Rs 89,000 and also feature an additional offer of Rs 5000 instant discount to those using SBI credit cards for their purchase. The phones are available at no cost EMI by the ecommerce company.

Banking on mobile phones
Flipkart’s two of the biggest categories – mobile phones and electronics – feature some of the deepest discount with the sale scheduled to last from December 7 to 9. Another star attraction in the category is Google Pixel 2 handsets which is made available to customers at a steep discount, starting from Rs 39,999 or lower. Google Pixel 2 is originally available at Rs 61000 in the market.

Other mobile phone brands like Samsung on Nxt, Moto C Plus, Lenovo K8 Plus are also part of the sale with heavy discounts.

Electronics, accessories, and more
Another big seller for Flipkart – electronics – features heavy discounts on several products and brands. The company is offering massive discounts on laptops, headphones, speakers with brands like Sony and JBL leading the discount race with 70% off.

DSLR cameras are being sold on discount with certain brands also offering free headsets worth Rs 6499 free on the sale of these cameras.

One of the featured offer is a flat 50% discount on Fossil Wander smartwatches.

The website also has a separate section dedicated to gaming fans called Gamer’s Paradise and lists up to 50% off on gaming laptops, consoles, and other accessories. Microsoft Xbox S is being offered at a discount range of 10-23%; with purchase of video games inviting an extra 10% off.

Other big categories invited big discounts are: Personal and Healthcare products (up to 80% off), Fashion and Lifetsyle (50-80% off). Winter clothing will have up to 80% off across brands.

The website has also tied up with the SBI bank for extra offers to those using the bank’s credit cards for their transactions, with 10% instant discount on offer.

These valuable Windows 10 apps will help with holiday shopping

68267_wunderlist-logo-lede These valuable Windows 10 apps will help with holiday shopping

If you’re making a list and checking it twice, you’ll need these apps to help you get your holiday shopping done, nice.

This time of year often brings a flurry of gifts and giving. Finding the best deals and keeping track of all your purchases can add stress to your holiday. These are the best Windows 10 apps to help you get through your holiday shopping.

Unfortunately, the Microsoft Store has a dearth of shopping apps when compared to the Google Play Store and iOS. The Amazon app is just a web wrapper, and the shopping category within the Microsoft Store only lists six apps, many of which haven’t been updated in a long time. So instead of a list of shopping apps, these are the best apps to help you get your shopping done by staying organized and lowering your stress level.

Wunderlist

68267_wunderlist-logo-lede These valuable Windows 10 apps will help with holiday shopping

Between friends, family, your work’s Secret Santa, and treating yourself, your holiday shopping list can be a hassle to keep track of. Wunderlist is a great to-do list app that you can also use to stay on top of your shopping list. It’s available on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile and also works with Android and iOS so you can take your list with you wherever you go.

Wunderlist lets you share lists with people as well which helps you make sure an item isn’t purchased twice. This is especially handy for parents and couples who need to buy a lot of gifts. If one of you sees a gift for a good deal, you can just buy it and tick it off the list, making sure that your partner doesn’t grab the same item on the way home.

The app also supports due dates and calendar integration to help you stay on schedule. You can also assign specific items on lists to people to divide and conquer when it comes to your holiday shopping.

See in Microsoft Store

Packages Tracker

68267_wunderlist-logo-lede These valuable Windows 10 apps will help with holiday shopping

While shoppers are swarming physical stores, many people relax in their pajamas and order their gifts from home. Packages Tracker allows you to easily follow your packages that are being delivered from a variety of carriers. It works across Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, and even Hololens.

The app has an easy to use design and supports notifications for when your shipments arrive. The app is free, but if you want to track an unlimited number of packages, you’ll have to upgrade for $1.49.

See in Microsoft Store

Spending Tracker

68267_wunderlist-logo-lede These valuable Windows 10 apps will help with holiday shopping

The holidays can be a pricey time of year. Spending Tracker helps you identify where you spend your money and track both your expenses and your income. You’ll have to remain diligent because the app relies on you entering transaction data rather than linking to any of your bank accounts.

The app allows you to split your expenses into separate categories and gives you a variety of visual graphs to help you understand where your money is going. The app has an older design, but it’s also available on iOS and Android which is a big boost to users with devices on multiple platforms. The app has been around for years and earned high rankings when it comes to helping people stay aware of their finances. And if you budget correctly it’ll be that much easier to purchase the right gifts this holiday season.

See in Microsoft Store

Spotify

68267_wunderlist-logo-lede These valuable Windows 10 apps will help with holiday shopping

Music isn’t going to help you physically get your shopping done, but it can help remind you of the reason you celebrate this time of year. Spotify is an extremely popular music streaming service that has seasonal playlists full of holiday music. You can also make your own playlists and share them with friends, which by itself could be a nice gift.

See in Microsoft Store

Honorary non-app mention: Thrifter

68267_wunderlist-logo-lede These valuable Windows 10 apps will help with holiday shopping

There isn’t a Thrifter app available on Windows 10, but they’re the Mobile Nations site that is focused on finding you great deals. You’ll often see deals on our site that the Thrifter team spotted. It’s worth following them on social media and keeping an eye on their website to see how much you can save on a wide variety of items.

Summing things up

The key to a good gift is getting something thoughtful. The key to getting shopping done is planning and staying organized. These apps will help you keep track of what you’ve purchased and ordered, track where your orders are, and help you manage your finances to make sure you don’t break the break this holiday season.

These valuable Windows 10 apps will help with holiday shopping

d8595_wunderlist-logo-lede These valuable Windows 10 apps will help with holiday shopping

If you’re making a list and checking it twice, you’ll need these apps to help you get your holiday shopping done, nice.

This time of year often brings a flurry of gifts and giving. Finding the best deals and keeping track of all your purchases can add stress to your holiday. These are the best Windows 10 apps to help you get through your holiday shopping.

Unfortunately, the Microsoft Store has a dearth of shopping apps when compared to the Google Play Store and iOS. The Amazon app is just a web wrapper, and the shopping category within the Microsoft Store only lists six apps, many of which haven’t been updated in a long time. So instead of a list of shopping apps, these are the best apps to help you get your shopping done by staying organized and lowering your stress level.

Wunderlist

d8595_wunderlist-logo-lede These valuable Windows 10 apps will help with holiday shopping

Between friends, family, your work’s Secret Santa, and treating yourself, your holiday shopping list can be a hassle to keep track of. Wunderlist is a great to-do list app that you can also use to stay on top of your shopping list. It’s available on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile and also works with Android and iOS so you can take your list with you wherever you go.

Wunderlist lets you share lists with people as well which helps you make sure an item isn’t purchased twice. This is especially handy for parents and couples who need to buy a lot of gifts. If one of you sees a gift for a good deal, you can just buy it and tick it off the list, making sure that your partner doesn’t grab the same item on the way home.

The app also supports due dates and calendar integration to help you stay on schedule. You can also assign specific items on lists to people to divide and conquer when it comes to your holiday shopping.

See in Microsoft Store

Packages Tracker

d8595_wunderlist-logo-lede These valuable Windows 10 apps will help with holiday shopping

While shoppers are swarming physical stores, many people relax in their pajamas and order their gifts from home. Packages Tracker allows you to easily follow your packages that are being delivered from a variety of carriers. It works across Windows 10, Windows 10 Mobile, and even Hololens.

The app has an easy to use design and supports notifications for when your shipments arrive. The app is free, but if you want to track an unlimited number of packages, you’ll have to upgrade for $1.49.

See in Microsoft Store

Spending Tracker

d8595_wunderlist-logo-lede These valuable Windows 10 apps will help with holiday shopping

The holidays can be a pricey time of year. Spending Tracker helps you identify where you spend your money and track both your expenses and your income. You’ll have to remain diligent because the app relies on you entering transaction data rather than linking to any of your bank accounts.

The app allows you to split your expenses into separate categories and gives you a variety of visual graphs to help you understand where your money is going. The app has an older design, but it’s also available on iOS and Android which is a big boost to users with devices on multiple platforms. The app has been around for years and earned high rankings when it comes to helping people stay aware of their finances. And if you budget correctly it’ll be that much easier to purchase the right gifts this holiday season.

See in Microsoft Store

Spotify

d8595_wunderlist-logo-lede These valuable Windows 10 apps will help with holiday shopping

Music isn’t going to help you physically get your shopping done, but it can help remind you of the reason you celebrate this time of year. Spotify is an extremely popular music streaming service that has seasonal playlists full of holiday music. You can also make your own playlists and share them with friends, which by itself could be a nice gift.

See in Microsoft Store

Honorary non-app mention: Thrifter

d8595_wunderlist-logo-lede These valuable Windows 10 apps will help with holiday shopping

There isn’t a Thrifter app available on Windows 10, but they’re the Mobile Nations site that is focused on finding you great deals. You’ll often see deals on our site that the Thrifter team spotted. It’s worth following them on social media and keeping an eye on their website to see how much you can save on a wide variety of items.

Summing things up

The key to a good gift is getting something thoughtful. The key to getting shopping done is planning and staying organized. These apps will help you keep track of what you’ve purchased and ordered, track where your orders are, and help you manage your finances to make sure you don’t break the break this holiday season.

iPhone X Owners Made The Most Out Of Black Friday Shopping

It seems iPhone X users spent almost twice as much on Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales than other smartphone shopper, on average.

According to a Tuesday (Nov. 28) report published by Retail Dive, a recent study compiled by Software as a Service (SaaS) mobile marketing analytics platform AppsFlyer found that Apple iPhone X shoppers were responsible for approximately $100 million in in-app purchases. Their average order value (AOV) was 70 percent higher than Samsung smartphones, 40 percent higher than Google Pixel users, exceeded other iPhones by 30 percent and beat out Samsung Galaxy phones by 28 percent.

In terms of consumer spend, mobile device shopping was responsible for 37 percent of the record $5.03 billion in total Black Friday revenue this year, digital marketing research platform Adobe Digital Insights reported.

Adobe’s data noted the AOV for Apple iOS devices was $127, a 5.1 percent increase from 2016, and a 10 percent rise in conversions, as well. Android devices, by comparison, saw $112 per order on average and a 1.5 percent growth, with 8.1 percent conversion rate growth from 2016.

The iPhone X made news earlier this year not only for its high purchase price and delayed release dates, but also for its enhanced capabilities related to augmented reality (AR) and facial recognition. Many retailers — including Ikea, Williams-Sonoma and Toys R Us — have hopped on the AR bandwagon and are creating AR mobile shopping experiences to appeal to iPhone X and other advanced technology users this holiday shopping season and beyond.

One of the largest hurdles for mobile marketing is mobile shopping conversions, Retail Dive noted, and this season has already seen some growth. Mobile advertising engagement rates rose 111 percent during the week before Thanksgiving, and click-through rates increased by 154 percent, according to data from Rakuten Marketing. The 2017 much-anticipated Cyber Monday sales did not disappoint, either, totaling approximately $6.6 billion and up 16.8 percent from 2016.

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03f15_finicity-data-sharing-exchange-financial-services-wells-fargo-api-privacy-security-300x180 iPhone X Owners Made The Most Out Of Black Friday Shopping

Everyone spent their Thanksgiving dinner shopping on their iPhones under the table — and it’s great news for …

  • Thanksgiving online sales have already reached $1.5 billion.
  • Almost half of all traffic to retailers’ sites is coming from smartphones.
  • Last year, Walmart and Target Thanksgiving Day smartphones sales were crucial to kicking off the retailers’ holiday shopping seasons.

Americans have already spent more than $1.5 billion online on Thanksgiving Day – and almost half of shoppers are on their smartphones.

As of 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, 46% of all traffic to retail sites on Thanksgiving was from smartphones, according to Adobe Analytics data. That’s a 17% increase from Thanksgiving Day last year.

That means, for the first time, Thanksgiving shoppers are spending more time online shopping on their phones than on their computers. Desktop and tablet traffic both dropped compared to last year.

Ignoring friends and family to shop on your iPhone is becoming something of a tongue-in-cheek Thanksgiving tradition. The New York Times’ product review site Wirecutter tweeted on Thursday: “Thanksgiving is for your family, not for shopping… So please be discreet while you do it on your phone”.

e89a0_2e3e0a7c809dafdde2ff5237ccc572d1ad283afd-800x322 Everyone spent their Thanksgiving dinner shopping on their iPhones under the table — and it's great news for ...

Still, just because everyone is ignoring their families to troll retailers’ websites doesn’t mean that people are spending the most money on their iPhones. According to Adobe, smartphones sales make up a 30% share of revenue so far today. That’s a 22% increase from last year, but still falling short of desktop sales, which accounted for a 57% share.

Last year was also a record year for smartphone shopping on Thanksgiving. As of 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day 2016, mobile sales had reached $449 million, an increase of 58% from 2015.

In 2016, both Walmart and Target highlighted smartphone sales as key to a successful kick off to the online shopping season. According to Walmart, 70% of traffic to the retailer’s website during the Thursday kick off of its Black Friday promotion came from mobile devices.

The tricks stores use to lure shoppers off the internet and back into the malls as Christmas shopping season kicks …

  • Malls in several US states are scheduling Santa photos with family pets as one way to lure customers away from online shopping
  • Gingerbread decorating sessions, visits from the Grinch and ugly Christmas sweater nights are also being utilized by malls
  • Temporary ice skating rinks and magical winter decor in stores help create an in-person holiday experience
  • Wal-Mart stores also plan to throw more than 20,000 ‘holiday parties’ at which children can pose for ‘selfies with Santa’ 

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As the Christmas shopping season kicks into high gear on Black Friday, US stores have been trying to get creative with the tricks they use to lure shoppers off the internet and back into the thick of it.

Shopping malls in several states are scheduling Santa photo shoots with family pets as one way to attract customers in the face of the exploding online shopping realm.

Brick-and-mortar stores have expanded their bag of tricks – and gotten increasingly bold – as they look to lure shoppers who might otherwise be happy to stay on the couch and pick up gifts while still in their pajamas.

For the holiday shopping season, malls are hosting gingerbread decorating sessions, visits from the Grinch and ugly Christmas sweater nights. 

116f5_46A3560400000578-5112245-image-a-1_1511465078318 The tricks stores use to lure shoppers off the internet and back into the malls as Christmas shopping season kicks ...

US stores have been trying to get creative with the tricks they use to lure shoppers off the internet, including elaborate magical winter decor like Macy’s in New York

Temporary ice skating rinks and magical winter decor – like the famous Macy’s window displays in New York – are also being used to draw customers intent on an in-person holiday experience. 

Wal-Mart stores plans to throw more than 20,000 ‘holiday parties’ at which children can pose for ‘selfies with Santa.’ 

The flagship Bloomingdale’s store in New York has held yoga classes in the past, while Nordstrom has displayed Tesla cars near the section for men’s suits.

A number of shops now also ply visitors with food and drink. 

‘All of these retailers are desperate to get people into their stores,’ said analyst Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, who added a note of caution about all the promotions.

‘Whether they work or not is open to debate.’

Most experts predict a solid holiday shopping season, with IHS Markit projecting overall sales growth of 4.2 per cent to about $685 billion, said Chris Christopher, executive director at IHS. 

116f5_46A3560400000578-5112245-image-a-1_1511465078318 The tricks stores use to lure shoppers off the internet and back into the malls as Christmas shopping season kicks ...

Shopping malls in several states are scheduling Santa photo shoots with family pets as one way to attract customers in the face of the exploding online shopping realm

116f5_46A3560400000578-5112245-image-a-1_1511465078318 The tricks stores use to lure shoppers off the internet and back into the malls as Christmas shopping season kicks ...

Temporary ice skating rinks and magical winter decor are also being used to draw customers intent on an in-person holiday experience

Online sales are expected to account for 18.3 per cent of holiday sales this year, up from 16.8 percent last year, according to IHS. 

Surveys show that creating a festive holiday atmosphere is one way to prompt consumers to pocket their smartphones for a few hours and hit the mall.

About a third of consumers said they enjoyed holiday shopping as a family tradition and 23 per cent said they most enjoy holiday decorations, said a National Retail Federation survey. 

As e-commerce has grabbed bigger market share, chains like Target and Gap have invested heavily in smartphone apps and sophisticated ‘big data’ programs to target consumers and price most effectively.

Upscale department store Nordstrom is offering 24-hour curbside pickup at a handful of stores for the final nine days of the shopping season.

116f5_46A3560400000578-5112245-image-a-1_1511465078318 The tricks stores use to lure shoppers off the internet and back into the malls as Christmas shopping season kicks ...

The Macy’s store in New York is always a big attraction during the holiday season given their Christmas window displays

‘Customers increasingly want to shop where, how and when they choose, and 24/7 Curbside Pickup is one service we’re offering to support their experience,’ said Shea Jensen, senior vice president of customer experience at Nordstrom.

Department store Kohl’s is taking to heart a common motto – if you can’t beat them, join them.

Kohl’s will accept returns of goods bought on Amazon at its stores in Chicago and Los Angeles – and will pack and ship the unpackaged items back to the online behemoth at no charge.

The hope is that Amazon shoppers will linger and buy a few items from Kohl’s.

‘We have a really very simple, straightforward objective here, and that is driving traffic is the number one priority we have as a company,’ chief executive Kevin Mansell said earlier this month.  


116f5_46A3560400000578-5112245-image-a-1_1511465078318 The tricks stores use to lure shoppers off the internet and back into the malls as Christmas shopping season kicks ...

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iPhone X ship times improve to 1-2 weeks just in time for holiday shopping

As the busiest shopping time of the year quickly approaches, iPhone X shipping times in the United States and Canada have fallen to 1-2 weeks on the Apple Online Store. This comes following last week’s improvement to 2-3 weeks.


fdb82_spigen-teka-on-airpods iPhone X ship times improve to 1-2 weeks just in time for holiday shopping

Spigen TEKA RA200 Airpods Earhooks Cover

At their worst, shipping times touched 5-6 weeks the day after iPhone X pre-orders went live. Since then, however, Apple has been working to improve delivery estimates, while in-store availability has also been gradually improving.

Tim Cook touched on demand for the iPhone X during Apple’s earnings call earlier this month. Cook remarked that he couldn’t predict when the device will come back into supply/demand balance, but we’ve already see major improvements in less than a month of availability.

In addition to improvements on Apple’s Online Store, many customers are seeing regular improvements to shipping times after their initial order. Many people who were originally quoted 2-3 weeks, for instance, have received their device much quicker than that.

This is a crucial time for iPhone X availability as the holiday shopping season ‘officially’ begins this week. While we likely won’t seen any doorbuster iPhone X deals this holiday season, we can expect Apple’s latest flagship to be one of the most popular gifts.

Meanwhile, if you are searching for that perfect Black Friday sale, head over to 9to5Toys where they’ll be working around the clock to keep up with all of latest and greatest deals.

Have you already gotten your hands on the iPhone X or are you still waiting? Let us know down in the comments.


Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

Holiday Shopping: Tips for Buying the Right Computer

The holidays are already upon us and you are considering purchasing a new computer as a gift. Great! With a myriad of prices, models, styles, accessories, and various other options the concept of purchasing a computer can be overwhelming and downright confusing. So where to start? How do you know what to buy? Here are some tips for you to make your technology purchase easier.

Set Your Budget

Before you begin shopping, make a budget, and stick to it. It is very easy to start with a budget and stay within it when buying the actual computer. However, when you add in the extras, upgrades, accessories, and warranty plans before you know it, you’ve double the amount of your purchase. Take stock of what is important to the initial purchase and budget in for what you need and want to spend. Remember, extra accessories like that fancy mouse or extra keyboard can be purchased another time.

Be sure to shop around. Look at online as well as in store specials. Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday boast fantastic deals, this doesn’t always apply to purchasing a computer. Take some time and watch for fluctuations and discounts that are offered and take advantage of those.

Consider Your Needs

When looking for a computer, first consider how the computer will be utilized. A computer used for school will have different needs that one used for gaming or an individual who simply wishes to go online to surf the internet and check emails.

First you will need to consider the type of processor. The easiest way to explain the processor is that it is like the brains of the computer. Most people who use their computers for things like simple text based programs (i.e. QuickBooks or Microsoft Office), or who primarily email and surf the web would benefit with an i3 Core processor. The majority of users fall into this category.

However, the user who likes to game or uses heavy graphics programs like movie maker will require a computer with an i7 core processor. This type of user would also likely need a more powerful graphics card.

The next component to consider is the amount of RAM (Random Access Memory). This detail is important to consider as the amount of RAM in a computer can affect how many programs can be open at once and how fast it will be. So consider if the individual using the computer will be using many programs at once or just a couple at a time. The amount of RAM in the computer can affect how quickly that computer runs.

Peripherals

Considering the peripherals of a computer can be an influencing factor in which computer you purchase. Consider how many USB slots will need? Is it necessary to have an HDMI port or SD slot? Will your computer need to connect to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth? All these items are things to consider when choosing the peripherals of a computer and can affect the cost. Knowing what you want to put into the computer can help avoid extra items you don’t necessarily need and can keep you from forgetting those that you will need.

Mac vs. Windows

Choosing your type of computer and type of operating systems basically comes down to user preference. Oftentimes, if you are familiar with one type of computer (i.e. PC or Mac) then it can be easier to stay with that type of computer when purchasing new. Do keep in mind, that new computers will often mean a newer operating system.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t switch from a PC to a Mac or vice versa, just be aware that there will be differences. Take the time to look into what type of operating system you would prefer, be patient when learning the new computer. It does get easier with time.

Laptop vs. Desktop

There are advantages and disadvantages to both using a laptop and a desktop. Here are some things to consider when deciding which type of computer you wish to purchase.

Laptops offer portability. For the user on the go, a laptop can be a great decision. This convenient device can be setup on a regular desk with the use of an external mouse and keyboard, a docking station, or even an extra monitor. This will allow the computer user to have a standard home desk setup without the bulk of a desktop tower. This makes it convenient as the user can simply disconnect from the extras and take the computer with them. Do keep in mind that if you plan to invest in a quality laptop, expect to spend around $550-$700 or more.

Desktop computers can offer much of the same qualities of a laptop with the main downside of lack of portability. On the plus, it can be less expensive to put upgrades into a desktop and the overall purchase of a desktop can cost less than a laptop. It might not make sense that a laptop would cost more than a desktop for the same upgrades but it’s easier to change out parts and upgrade components in a desktop as there is more room in a tower to fit the components.

All-in-one computers offer a unique quality of having a smaller sized desktop computer where the computer is in the monitor rather than two separate pieces (tower and monitor). If you are tight on desk space, this can be a great option. Do keep in mind, the all-in-one computer uses similar components to that of a laptop computer. Upgrades can be more expensive due to the compact nature of the all-in-one.

Do Your Research

Before taking that leap there is one more step you should always take. Do your research. Look at the consumer reviews and manufactures information. Knowing the pitfalls of a computer, common complaints or praises from consumers can help guide your decision in picking the best computer.

Don’t just shop online, visit some stores to get a physical look at the product. This can help give an idea of the size of the screen on a laptop or the size of the tower for the desktop.

Be sure to research what programs come with the computer. Computers sold today, both online and in store general do not include programs like Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, or QuickBooks so you will want to consider those in with your purchase.

Look into the warranty offered with each computer. How long is it? Some warranties are offered for 1 year, others for 90 days, some places offer extended warranties. What are you required to do? Find out if the company will send a technician to you, do a repair over the phone, or if you will be required to ship the computer to them for the warranty repair. This will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. The warranty requirements might be a little different based on where you purchase the computer.

Accessorize

Now comes the fun part. Accessorizing! There are many types of accessories one can purchase to go with your new computer. Mice, keyboards, printers, and external hard drives are just to name a few. There are various styles and brands. Some can connect wirelessly to your computer, some items come in fun colors. Like all other areas, shop around, do your research to find the best accessories for your needs.

Overall, shopping for a computer can seem like a lot to tackle but knowing what you want in a computer can help ease the stress. Make a list of your needs, write down the activities the computer would be used for, and talk to people in the know. CompuTime, a locally owned and operated company, has been in business for over 20 years and we are willing and able to help you find just the perfect computer for your needs. We can build you a custom desktop computer or even help you find the perfect laptop. Just stop in and have a chat with one of our knowledgeable staff. By taking a little time to figure out your specific needs, shopping for a computer can be fun!

Introducing our New Remote Helpdesk for immediate services for your technology: helpdesk@computime.net 928-717-3939

KFC Is Selling a $10000 ‘Internet Escape Pod’ to Save You from the Holiday Shopping Season

For the past few years, KFC has centered much of its marketing efforts around the idea of being a bit bizarre—things like constantly changing the actor that plays its spokesperson, wacky virtual training videos, a KFC clothing line, and most recently, commissioning a painting of some guy from Twitter riding on the back of Colonel Sanders. Though these sorts of campaigns aren’t uncommon (Old Spice, anyone?), they are accompanied by a recurring problem: When you act strange all the time, that behavior becomes normalized, so you have to one-up yourself to get the same kind of reaction. And as a result, you get headlines like these: KFC is selling at $10,000 “Internet Escape Pod” for one lucky buyer who is seeking a way to block out all of the holiday season madness. Oh, and it has a giant Colonel Sanders on top wrapping his arms around the pod to protect you.

“Made in the USA out of steel, adorned with enamel paint and 8-pound high-density architectural foam, and designed to be a safe space from the internet coming to and from your devices,” KFC’s 7-foot wide, 6.5-foot tall Internet Escape Pod is a one-of-a-kind item that “comfortably fits four adults and a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.” Speaking of which, what exactly does escaping the internet have to do with KFC? The brand openly admits, not much: “In case you haven’t noticed, our specialty is fried chicken, not internet-blocking cages,” KFC’s announcement explains. “Although we have done our best to ensure total internet escape, a special person with a gizmo has to test our cage before we can claim total and utter signal impenetrability. Upon installation, every effort will be taken to ensure it fully blocks your device. You have the Colonel’s word.”

You might have caught the word “installation,” and indeed, for your $10,000 purchase price, the odd pod does come with “assembly and installation service included.” Ostensibly, it takes a trained professional to position the replica of Colonel Sanders on top to assure that his arms are outstretched in the most “protective embrace” possible.

If the idea of a KFC-branded anti-internet tent interests you, you’ll want to get on this offer fast. According to the company, only one is being sold—and once it’s gone, that’s it. In fact, KFC is calling this a “close out” offer. “We were going to sell this for the ridiculously high price of $96,485.34, but in the spirit of the season, I said, ‘nah, let’s make it a deal,’” said George Felix, director of advertising, KFC U.S. The marketing department always gets the cushiest budget.

Shopping for an iPhone? These stores offer $200-$300 discounts for Black Friday

4fab7_29906170001_5644660158001_5644656000001-vs Shopping for an iPhone? These stores offer $200-$300 discounts for Black Fridayx

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Jefferson Graham shows how to do a hidden trick in Apple’s iOS11 operating system upgrade called “Long Exposure,” that turns running water into a cloud-like dream state, on #TalkingTech.
USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — The iPhone, which is rarely discounted, is getting some major love from big-box retailers for the Thanksgiving shopping holiday. 

Walmart has the best deal so far, offering $300 off in the form of a gift card for the coveted iPhone X, which starts at $999, as well as the 8 and 8 Plus and last year’s 7 and 7 Plus. The catch is that you need to sign a two-year lease deal with wireless carriers ATT or Verizon.

Target and Best Buy’s Black Friday iPhone specials are for the 8 and 8 Plus models, with a $250 gift card from Target and $200 from Best Buy. Both require service with Verizon, ATT or Sprint.

The Best Buy offer is available both in-store and online from Thursday, Nov. 23 through Saturday. Target’s is only available in store. 

The iPhone X, the most expensive iPhone to date, went on sale November 3 and quickly sold out within two days. It currently has a two-to-three week backlog for deliveries, according to the Apple website. 

The 8 and 8 Plus phones went on sale in September, to non-rave reviews, with many critics saying consumers should wait for the X.

According to researcher Canalys, Apple sold fewer iPhone 8’s in the third-quarter than the 7, 8 Plus or even 2015’s 6S.

More: Don’t like the iPhone X’s notch? There’s an app that can help

More: How to set up a new iPhone the right way

More: I’ve had an iPhone X all week. Here’s what’s easier and what’s still a struggle

The main knock from critics was that the 8 and 8 Plus had few upgrades from the previous year’s 7 and 7 Plus, primarily a stronger processor, glass back, the ability to do wireless charging and incremental camera upgrades. 

$500 for an iPhone 8

However, consumers looking to upgrade to a new iPhone could see a great deal at Target or Best Buy with phones that start at $699 and $799. At Target, the effective price for the 8 would be $450, and $500 at Best Buy. 

“A lot of people assume they can’t get a discount on Apple products, so these deals really stick out,” says Lindsay Sakraida from the Dealnews.com website.

More: iPhone 8 seems to have an iPhone X problem. Awkward.

More: You can’t get the iPhone X, so maybe the iPhone 8 isn’t so bad after all

More: The best Black Friday deals you can get right now

For consumers skipping out on the X or even this year’s 8 and 8 Plus, the Walmart $300 gift card offer brings the 7 and 7 Plus effective prices down to $249 and $369 for phones that normally sell for $549 and $669. 

Amazon usually matches many of the big-box Black Friday offers, but the e-tailer doesn’t sell iPhones. The wireless carriers can be expected to offer generous Black Friday promotions for the iPhone as well, says Sakraida, but they’ve yet to reveal their plans. 

The stores are also offering trade-ins, which could bring in additional savings. Target, for instance, offers $310 for a good condition iPhone 7 Plus, the phone Apple released in 2016. 

Apple traditionally stages a Black Friday sale at company stores but hasn’t announced pricing yet. The company usually waits until Thanksgiving night or Black Friday proper to officially disclose its deals. 

The big box stores are also offering major discounts on Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+ and the Note 8 phones, with Walmart’s $300 gift card for those phones matching the generous Apple offer. 

Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham on Twitter, @jeffersongraham

 

Government backtracks on GST for internet shopping

Revenue Minister Stuart Nash has perhaps been too enthusiastic in promising to add GST to internet shopping.

On Wednesday, he said the Government will “absolutely” move to apply GST to online purchases from overseas, but by the end of the day, Finance Minister Grant Robertson was pulling back.

New Zealanders spend around $3.4 billion a year on online goods and services, but New Zealand websites’ share of this is rapidly declining.

55% of online spending is now with New Zealand firms, and that’s expected to drop below 50% by next year.

Mr Nash said on Wednesday morning that the National Government did not go far enough when it introduced the ‘Netflix tax’ on services and purchases like movies, e-books and music.

He said a tax on goods will “absolutely” happen.

The retail industry began celebrating.

Greg Harford from Retail NZ said it was “great news” that would level the playing field for brick and mortar retailers. He estimates the tax may bring in up to $235 million a year, rising to $935m within nine years, as the e-commerce sector grows.

But by the middle of the day, the Government’s story was changing. 

Mr Nash pulled out of an interview with Newshub and wasn’t available to provide detail on the tax plans.

Then Mr Robertson stepped in to tell Newshub: “I think what the Minister of Revenue was saying was there is still quite a lot of work to be done on it.”

Former Minister of Revenue Judith Collins didn’t hold back.

“I think he’s enthusiastic, and enthusiasm is an excellent thing in a puppy,” she said, “but possibly a minister needs to be a little less.”

The National Government’s ‘Netflix tax’ requires foreign companies to levy GST on all digital services sold to New Zealand, such as streaming television, music and gaming subscriptions.

National refrained from extending the tax to physical goods.

Newshub.

Government confirms GST on internet shopping

Revenue Minister Stuart Nash has confirmed the Government will “absolutely” move to apply GST to online purchases of physical goods from overseas. 

Under current law, most items costing less than $400 can be bought tax free from overseas, unless they are items that attract duty, in which case, the tax-free threshold falls to $240.

“[The National] Government did not do enough about this, so what happened… a 15 per cent competitive advantage to those overseas,” Mr Nash told NZME.

“While our retailers had to deal with GST, overseas people didn’t.”

The tax may level the playing field for brick-and-mortar retailers, with Greg Harford of Retail NZ telling NZME that the news was “outstanding for the retail sector”.

Retail NZ has estimated the tax may bring in up to $235 million a year, rising to $935m within nine years, as the e-commerce sector grows.

In October last year, the National Government introduced a “Netflix tax”, which  required foreign companies to levy GST on all digital services sold to New Zealand, such as streaming television, music and gaming subscriptions. 

But National refrained from extending the tax to physical goods.

There is currently no timeline for the introduction of the new tax.

Newshub.

Amid internet shopping frenzy, burglars break into main post office

The post office on Sunday said it was trying to assess the damage caused after burglars broke into its central package-sorting office and tore open hundreds of packages.

Intruders gained access to the sorting office in central region city of Modiin overnight Friday.

The break-in came as Israel’s postal system was bracing itself for an annual spike in online shopping by Israelis hoping to pick up internet bargains in the pre-Christmas rush. On Saturday, the Chinese online retailer Alibaba, a popular site among Israelis, held its annual 11.11 sale. Tens of thousands of Israelis were expected to have placed orders with the site.

The post office has seen a huge increase in packages shipped to Israel in recent years as Israelis look to beat high local prices.

The robbers were disturbed by security guards and fled the scene. The post office did not say how many people were involved in the incident.

An initial investigation found that hundreds of packages were torn open and the contents removed, but the post office said it was not clear if any items had been stolen.

A complaint was filed with police over the break-in.

Service workers tried to repackage as many of the parcels as possible. Those items that they were unable to return to their original packages were documented and cataloged. The post office said it is contacting clients based on the details gleaned from parcels to let them know that their deliveries were damaged.

The NIS 100 million ($28 million) center was launched two months ago. It uses a high-tech automated system to sort and scan packages before labeling them for delivery around the country.

Internet giant Alibaba crushes one-day online shopping record

The record was helped by the strength of the Chinese yuan versus the US dollar, but it also stemmed from growing access to online shopping in China. Alibaba’s Joseph Tsai attributed the surge to “rising disposable incomes” among the over 300 million middle-class buyers in the country. Imagine if the vast majority of the US population saw a dramatic boost in its spending power and you’ll get a sense for how Alibaba could manage this feat.

The hype swirling around the event certainly helped as well. Alibaba started Singles’ Day as a promo for lonely hearts, but it quickly grew into an all-encompassing sales event that makes Black Friday seem timid. This year, Alibaba held a launch event with western stars like Nicole Kidman and Pharrell Williams joining Chinese celebrities like actress Zhang Ziyi. It wanted buyers to get excited about spending money, and this clearly paid off.

Alibaba and its rivals can’t rest easily. There are concerns that online shopping may soon hit a wall, and Alibaba even turned 100,000 retail stores into internet purchasing hubs in a bid to attract shoppers who might have ignored the online blitz. That still leaves potential for significant growth as China’s middle class grows, though, and those that are already entrenched in the middle class may spend more online as they become comfortable with shopping from home.

Fewer Maltese used internet for online shopping than EU average in 2016


 Fewer Maltese used internet for online shopping than EU average in 2016

Fewer Maltese people used the internet for online shopping than the EU average, statistics compiled in a digital publication developed by Eurostat in collaboration with the National Statistical Institutes of the EU Member States revealed.

In 2016, the statistics show that 65% of men and 60% of women (aged 16 – 74) in Malta used the internet for online shopping, yet the EU average stood at 67% of men and 65% of women.

When it comes to sports and clothing goods, quite a high percentage of Maltese e-shoppers purchased these items online in the last three months of 2016 (77% of female e-shoppers, 68% of male e-shoppers), which shows that female e-shoppers are more likely to purchase these kinds of goods than men. In addition, the amount of Maltese e-shoppers purchasing such goods is higher than the EU average.

When it comes to travel and holiday accommodation, on average, 52% of male EU e-shoppers and 51% of female EU e-shoppers booked online in the last three months of 2016. When it comes to Maltese statistics, 54% of male e-shoppers and 50% of female e-shoppers booked their travel and accommodation online.

Surprisingly, purchasing electronic equipment online is not as popular as purchasing sports goods and clothing.

On average, 31% of male and 17% of female EU e-shoppers purchased electronic equipment online in the last three months of 2016. In Malta, 38% of male and 19% of female e-shoppers purchased such goods.

The compilation of statistics also included information regarding social media use, internet banking etc.

In Malta, 83% of women and 80% of men used the internet to participate in social networks in the last three months of 2016. This is much higher than the EU average of 65% of women and 61% of men.

When it comes to internet banking, 61% of men and 59% of women locally used the internet for such activities.

When looking at what the internet is used for, in terms of EU averages, there was a smaller share of women than men in the EU reading the news online (68 % of women and 72 % of men who used the internet in the last three months in 2016). There were no major differences (in the EU average) when using the internet for telephone calls (38 % of women and 40 % of men), internet banking (58 % of women and 60 % of men) and job search (22 % of women and 21 % of men in 2015). For sending and receiving e-mails, there was no difference (86 % of both women and men).

 

 

 

Salesforce Shopping Index: Shopper Spend Up, Computer Order Share Drops


64958_1x1.trans Salesforce Shopping Index: Shopper Spend Up, Computer Order Share Drops64958_1x1.trans Salesforce Shopping Index: Shopper Spend Up, Computer Order Share Drops

If a shopper visits a web site and doesn’t buy anything, was she even there? Salesforce’s Q3 Shopping Index points to probably not.

According to the solution provider’s analytics, shopper engagement is increasingly necessary to accomplish conversions across channels and devices. During the third quarter this year, shopper spend was up 15 percent year-over-year. “Shoppers were incentivized to purchase with a seven percent increase in merchandise discount rates to an average rate of 22 percent — the highest rate ever recorded by the Shopping Index. General apparel sites led this trend with average discounts of 23 percent, a 12 percent increase over last year,” the report said.

Salesforce reviews shopping activity on 722 digital commerce sites in 37 country, reflecting behavior of 500 million shoppers and one billion web site visits.

Click here to listen to Salesforce’s recent webinar, The Future of Fashion Retailing.

Unsurprisingly, the research found that mobile continues to be a disruptive force — 58 percent of all third-quarter traffic stemmed from mobile phones. What’s more, computer order share is on the way to dropping below 50 percent, the report noted. According to the index, over the last two years orders placed on desktops has fallen 21 percent.

Free shipping is also on the rise. Sixty-nine percent — the highest since the fourth quarter of 2016 — of web sites included in the analysis offered the service, likely to compete with Amazon. But while free shipping and discounts are increasing, product assortment growth is slowing, suggesting that consumers are consistently choosing the purchase of experiences rather than material items.

As technology improves to deliver seamless purchasing experiences on mobile, retailers and brands are charged with delivering impactful (read: engaging) shopping journeys upon first swipe, click, or tap. Shoppers are spending less time for visit durations, likely due to improved platforms and operating systems. But this calls for well-honed, frictionless research and product-discovery tools.

Deploying social campaigns that not only build intrigue and highlight new product, discounts and loyalty programs will contribute to moving the needle in revenue growth — especially with Millennial shoppers.

More from WWD:

Consumers Use Desktops for Daily Tasks, Smartphones for Convenience

Online Marketplaces Thrive Where Retailers Falter

Gap Widens Between Consumers, Retail Omnichannel Experiences

Why Drugstore Shopping Is Like Therapy for Me

a29c3_gettyimages-465148872_0_0 Why Drugstore Shopping Is Like Therapy for Me

Some people get stress relief from spas or tropical getaways. I find it in the hair care or vitamin aisle.

There’s a place I visit to relax and escape the pressures of life. It’s always bright and inviting there, and everyone knows my name. It is called CVS. OK, I exaggerate; not every staffer knows me. But Crystal at the register does. “Hi, Ellen! How are you today?” “Great!” I chirp. “Nice to be back!” And I mean it. Most of my friends enjoy some form of shopping therapy— Target therapy, Trader Joe’s therapy, and, of course, shoe store therapy. But drugstores are my happy place.

The thrill of the hunt

For the record: I have a life. And it’s a hectic one in which family and work needs often come ahead of my own. These jaunts are found me time. (Nobody in my family is ever excited to come with me on, say, a dental floss run.) I’ll check out nail polishes or explore the wondrous gadgets in the “As Seen on TV” section. There’s always the joy of the find: Ooh, gel cushions that make high heels more comfortable! While scientists have yet to do a study on Walgreens addiction, research points to certain personality types who are more prone to shopping till they drop. Extroverts may buy to express their individuality, and anxious types to self-soothe. I fall in the middle, making me a semi-neurotic extrovert who gets entirely too excited by bonus CVS bucks.

RELATED: The 5 Types of Anxiety Disorders You Need to Know About

Order, restored

This all started after my first child went through a trauma at birth. I’d go to get diapers and stay to avoid the scary reality of a sick baby. The drugstore was everything my life wasn’t: neat, orderly, and in control. Once, I started crying while I was there. (Woman losing it in aisle 5!) “Are you OK, miss?” an employee asked. “Not right now, but I will be,” I said, and as I spoke the words, I started to believe it would be true. These days roaming the aisles especially appeals when I’m bordering on burnout. I see the promise: More energy in the vitamin aisle! Silkier hair in the conditioner section! So when it’s 9:15 p.m. and I need a break, you know where to find me.

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Choosing a Health Insurance Plan Is Not ‘Shopping’

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867aa_02olenWeb-master768 Choosing a Health Insurance Plan Is Not 'Shopping'

A couple considering their insurance options under the Affordable Care Act.

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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It’s time to select a health insurance plan for 2018! Whether we get covered through an employer or the Affordable Care Act exchanges, we’ll be told to carefully review our options to find a plan that will give us the best coverage for the least amount of money.

We will be told we need to shop.

“I encourage you to shop around,” Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, told her Facebook followers who are choosing plans from the A.C.A. marketplaces. The human resources giant Mercer wrote last year, “This open enrollment, think of employees as shoppers.” The American Diabetes Association, the American Institute of Architects, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Aetna all use the terms in their literature or on their websites.

Make it stop!

This is not shopping. Shopping is a fun activity, like choosing a pie from the bakery or picking out cereal at the supermarket. The farthest thing from “shopping” is the arduous annual ritual of reviewing the complex and all but impossible to decipher health insurance options.

That’s partly because insurers do their best to make the experience as miserable as possible. Many of them offer up less-than-accurate lists of providers and participating institutions. They reserve the right to deny you coverage of a service, and you won’t know if they have until the day you need it — and maybe after the fact. Prospectuses are complex, and few of us fully understand them. Only 9 percent of Americans can properly define all four of these rather vital phrases: health plan premium, health plan deductible, out-of-pocket maximum and coinsurance, according a survey recently released by United Healthcare.

No surprise, reviewing our health insurance options doesn’t score high on the fun-o-meter. A 2016 Harris Poll discovered almost half of the employees they questioned always found choosing an insurance plan stressful. A similar number told Aflac they would rather talk to an ex or walk across hot coals than enroll in a health insurance plan. And yet another United Healthcare survey found more than a quarter of respondents would rather lose their credit card, smartphone or luggage, not to mention suffer a flat tire, than review their health insurance options during open-enrollment periods.

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Plus, we have choices when we do the real kind of shopping. If we don’t like the luggage in one store, we can always head to another. But if we don’t like the health insurance options our employer selects, or the options on the local exchange — well, short of changing jobs or moving, we’re stuck. That’s hardly the definition of consumer empowerment.

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If You’re Shopping For Health Insurance, Make Sure You’re Paid Up On Old Plan

4a9ca_paying-premiums-1_custom-bbbb325a271660c67f0be3c52aa36e254b265b76-s1100-c15 If You're Shopping For Health Insurance, Make Sure You're Paid Up On Old Plan

People hoping to get health insurance coverage in 2018 may need to make sure their 2017 premiums are paid.

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People hoping to get health insurance coverage in 2018 may need to make sure their 2017 premiums are paid.

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The 2018 annual open-enrollment period for coverage on the health insurance marketplaces starts Wednesday. But if you don’t take care of lingering issues from your past coverage, they may come back to haunt you.

Unpaid Premiums

A new rule will allow some insurers to require you to pay any back premiums you owe for the 12 months prior to the effective date of your new coverage.

The rule, which became effective in June, generally applies only if you try to enroll in a plan with the same insurer, not if you choose coverage from another company. It’s up to insurers to decide whether to come after you for the money.

But in many parts of the country, there may be only one insurer offering coverage. In those cases, if you’ve fallen behind on payments, “you really won’t be able to escape this policy,” said Tara Straw, a senior health policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Insurers have to notify you before you miss premium payments if they plan to implement the rule.

The Affordable Care Act offers some protection for people who fall behind on their payments. Under the law, you have a 90-day grace period in which to catch up on unpaid premiums. Once that grace period ends, your coverage would be canceled retroactive to the end of the first month of delinquency and you’d be responsible only for your portion of the first month’s unpaid premium. (You wouldn’t be responsible for premium tax credits paid on your behalf to the insurer.)

But if you stop paying your premiums during the last three months of this year, you could get hit with a bill for a full three months of premiums if you re-enroll for 2018 coverage. This is because your 90-day grace period hasn’t ended.

“Effectively your coverage has never terminated, and therefore you owe for the full period,” said Timothy Jost, professor emeritus of law at Washington and Lee University in Virginia.

If you want to drop a marketplace plan, it’s not enough to just stop paying premiums.

“Make sure you go to the marketplace and terminate your plan,” said Straw. “Otherwise you could be on the hook for these payments during open enrollment or during a special enrollment period if you try to sign up again.”

Unfiled Tax Documents

Most people who get marketplace coverage qualify for tax credits that provide money to help them pay their premiums. The assistance is available to consumers whose income is less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $48,000 for one person). If you had a marketplace plan in 2016, you were supposed to include a special document — IRS Form 8962 — when you filed your 2016 federal income taxes this year. This document reconciled how much you received in advance premium tax credits against how much you should have received based on your actual income for the year.

If you didn’t file the form with your taxes, you can still sign up for insurance coverage but you wouldn’t qualify for subsidies.

To fix that problem, you’ll generally have to file the Form 8962, along with the second page of your income tax Form 1040 and the 1095-A form you received from the marketplace showing your 2016 enrollment details, said Straw. If you want to receive premium tax credits starting in January, you’ll need to get that done before the open-enrollment period ends Dec. 15.

This issue will primarily affect people who are automatically re-enrolled in a plan for the following year, as were 31 percent of marketplace customers last year (see Table 2 on Page 6.)

If you sign into your marketplace account to update your income and other personal information — as everyone should — you’ll be asked whether you’ve filed and reconciled your taxes. That is a signal the issue needs to be addressed.

Some policy analysts are concerned that this filing requirement will be particularly challenging for people whose annual income is below the usual threshold required to file an income tax return (about $10,000 for one person or $20,000 for a married couple) but who must do so now because they receive premium tax credits paid in advance.

“It’s confusing enough, and many people don’t remember that they now have to file an income tax form,” said Mara Youdelman, managing attorney at the National Health Law Program, which has been working to ensure people receive proper notification that their benefit may be at risk if they don’t comply with filing requirements.

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Follow Michelle Andrews on Twitter: @mandrews110.

5 Points To Keep In Mind When Shopping For Health Insurance This Year

d6c8b_enrollment-health-2_custom-bb1324c37a0adb401f2ed1602c704c765c5a80eb-s1100-c15 5 Points To Keep In Mind When Shopping For Health Insurance This Year

From left, Yudelmy Cataneda, Javier Suarez and Claudia Suarez talk about health insurance with Yosmay Valdivian (right), an insurance agent from Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, at the Mall of Americas in Miami in 2014.

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From left, Yudelmy Cataneda, Javier Suarez and Claudia Suarez talk about health insurance with Yosmay Valdivian (right), an insurance agent from Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, at the Mall of Americas in Miami in 2014.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance starts Wednesday and ends Dec. 15. That means there are only 45 days to shop for coverage. The shorter enrollment period this year is just one of the changes to the process for buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Here are five important factors to keep in mind if you plan to sign up for ACA coverage for 2018.

1) The health law has not been repealed.

Despite the efforts of President Trump and the Republican-led Congress, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land.

That means if you don’t get insurance through your job or a government program, you will still be able to get coverage for a set of comprehensive benefits regardless of whether you have pre-existing conditions. It also means that if you meet income eligibility requirements, you will be able to get help from the federal government to afford your premiums, and, possibly, deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.

Those cost-sharing reduction subsidies help hold down out-of-pocket costs for people with incomes under 250 percent of poverty (a little more than $30,000 a year for an individual). They will be available despite Trump’s decision to stop the federal government from reimbursing insurers for the required discounts. Most insurers are making up the difference by raising premiums.

Meanwhile, if you get premium assistance in the form of tax credits, how much you pay for coverage is not likely to be much higher, either. That’s because as premiums go up, so do federal premium subsidies. (More about this below.)

2) The requirement for most people to have insurance — and most employers to offer it — is also still in effect.

Under the law, most households that earn enough to owe federal income tax are required either to have health insurance or pay a fine due with their taxes. The fine for not having insurance in 2017 (and 2018) is the greater of $695 or 2.5 percent of the taxpayer’s income. You can claim an exemption from the fine if you demonstrate that you cannot afford insurance offered in your area.

The IRS has said it will start rejecting returns filed in 2018 that don’t indicate whether the taxpayer had health insurance.

Larger employers (those with 50 or more full-time workers) are also mostly required to offer coverage to their workers or pay a penalty. That coverage must be comprehensive and affordable.

d6c8b_enrollment-health-2_custom-bb1324c37a0adb401f2ed1602c704c765c5a80eb-s1100-c15 5 Points To Keep In Mind When Shopping For Health Insurance This Year

3) Like your mama said, you better shop around.

While it’s always been important to compare options, this year it’s more crucial than ever.

For starters, you want to shop and pick a plan yourself so that the marketplace doesn’t automatically enroll you for 2018 coverage. That’s because the auto-renewal date this year is expected to be Dec. 16, the day after the open-enrollment period ends. So, if you are assigned a plan you don’t like, you won’t be able to change it until the 2019 open-enrollment season.

Shopping allows you to compare plans, including which doctors and hospitals are in-network, as well as premiums and copayments, which can vary.

4) Cost will be a factor.

This year, premiums are going up, in some areas by double digits, due in part to the Trump administration’s mid-October decision to cut off cost-sharing subsidies to insurers.

But the premium increases may not affect all plans and “metal levels,” which is why you should compare prices.

Some states, for example, instructed insurers to load those additional costs only onto the silver-level plans, which are midlevel plans that cover about 70 percent of an average person’s medical costs. The policyholder picks up the rest of the cost in deductibles and copayments. As a result of the state’s pricing decisions, though, gold-level plans, which cover an average of 80 percent of costs, might in some cases have lower premiums than silver plans.

Of course, if you get a cost-sharing reduction — meaning lower copayments and deductibles — because your individual income is below $30,150, you will need to stay in a silver plan.

Questions about enrollment?

The federal marketplace English-language website: HealthCare.gov

The federal marketplace Spanish-language website: CuidadodeSalud.gov

The federal call center for consumers, available 24/7: 1-800-318-2596

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s FAQ on the health law

Another factor to consider, however, is that the increased prices for silver plans may drive up a different subsidy — the tax credits that help people pay premiums. Those remain in place for people earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. They could rise because they are tied to the cost of a benchmark silver plan in each region.

In some cases, the tax credit increase could be enough to make a “bronze” or gold plan have a very low or even zero monthly premium, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis done before the administration took action. But, of course, consumers not getting either subsidies could be looking at higher costs. That gives them all the more reason to comparison-shop.

Some experts suggest looking beyond the official federal and state marketplaces — whether directly checking out an insurer’s website, working through a broker or consulting a private online website — because some states ordered insurers to load additional costs resulting from the Trump order only onto marketplace plans. Therefore, plans off the marketplace might cost less.

5) Buyers should also beware.

Outside of the official marketplaces there may be more insurers selling lower-cost, short-term policies.

Sabrina Corlette, who studies the marketplace for Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute, said that such plans, while less expensive, may not cover all benefits and might exclude coverage of pre-existing conditions.

Those plans also don’t meet ACA requirements for “minimum essential coverage,” so policyholders would still be liable for paying a tax penalty. “There are going to be some folks out there taking advantage of consumer confusion,” warned Corlette, adding that shoppers who buy outside of state or federal marketplaces “should go to a reputable broker.”

Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit health newsroom whose stories appear in news outlets nationwide, is an editorially independent part of the Kaiser Family Foundation.




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