When travelling around Australia and New Zealand, I have been a great fan of buying accommodation online.
I am a regular user of sites like Wotif, Expedia and Rates to Go, typically believing that they deliver decent savings over turning up on the spot.
In recent years, when I have checked what the "walk-in" rate was, I have found that buying online has typically delivered savings of $10 to $20 and sometimes even more.
However, recent experience is giving me second thoughts.
I am currently in Canada and twice have found the walk-in rate to be the same as that online. For one Vancouver hotel, I was also quoted over the phone the same or a better rate than I found online.
Earlier this year, when booking an extra night at a motel in Hamilton, New Zealand, the motel keeper admonished me for not coming to him direct.
He told me he would have bettered the rate I paid online as I would have saved myself the $5 or so commission I paid the online retailer, and he would have saved his commission too!
It does make you wonder if we really get the best from buying online.
And does the same apply with other products and services?
Of course, there remains the convenience of comparing the prices from the comfort of your armchair.
It seems, however, that you cannot beat an actual drive-by just to see if the product is as good as it appears online.