A curious look at Active.com Schwaggle deals

A few months ago I started getting (more) e-mail from Active.com.  Given you’re required to use their site for numerous race registrations, you eventually end up on some form of mailing list.  As a result I’ve long since somewhat ignored e-mail from Active.com, simply because…well…it’s Active.com

But for whatever reason one of the e-mails caught my eye, as this time the subject had noted a sports technology product.  As one who obviously is into that sorta thing, I was curious to see if was a good deal.  Even more so, I was curious if all these other e-mails I had ignored were good-ish deals.  So I sifted back through all the Active.com Schwaggle e-mail I had received and decided to start poking at the ones that were of interest to me, here’s where I started from:

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So with that massive list – I decided to narrow it down a bit.  Within the list there seemed to roughly be a few categories:

1) Discounts on races
2) Discounts on events/activities that weren’t races (i.e. golfing)
3) Clothing and related gear
4) Sunscreen (it seems to be popular)
5) Sports Technology (watches, etc…)
6) Everything else

Looking at the races category, there’s been a few offers – none of which I felt like I could conceivably take advantage of.  For example, the SheROX Bermuda triathlon.  This offer was sent basically two months prior to an event (only for females) in Bermuda.  While I’m sure there’s someone that would take advantage of such an offer at what is effectively the last moment – I’m not sure how valuable that is to most folks.

The clothing and gear items, like most deals offered on ‘GroupOn type’ sites, can be a good deal if you’re looking for precisely that item.  For example – if you were looking for a specific K-Swiss shoe, than that’s sweet.  For me, I use New Balance, so if an offer came buy to allow me to buy my usual shoe model – then sure, it’s a great deal at 50% off.  Otherwise it’s just noise.

But since I focus on sports technology around these parts, let’s look at those ones.  In short, within my e-mail pile I narrowed it down to the following:

1) Up to 50% off H2O Audio Waterproof Headphones
2) Half of FINIS Swimming Gear and Equipment (this was basically MP3 players)
3) Discount on Tanita Ironman Scales
4) 50% off H2O Audio
5) 55% of Timex Global Trainer

Let’s start with looking at #4 above – 50% off of H2O Audio products on their site.  Here’s the basics of the offer that was sent out.  As you can see, it was $40 for the headphone and case, which is in comparison to the $80 ‘value’.

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The irony of this particular offer is this was precisely 2 days AFTER I had actually bought the identical item on Amazon for an upcoming review.  Now, just to be clear, the deal was for $50 off any H2O products on their site.  So you didn’t have to buy this particular item.  But let’s pretend you did. As you can see below, I paid $63 for it, and the price hasn’t changed since.

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On H2O’s site, the ‘retail’ price is actually $100 – which means that  50% off brings it down to $50, so I’m really only saving $13.  And of course, don’t forget that the H2O Audio case is not an MP3 player at all – but rather, just the case for the iPod 4th Generation, which means you’ll still need to drop another $50 on that unit.  And don’t forget that H2O Audio charges shipping, so that may reduce your value some more.

Let’s look at another one, the Tanita Body Composition Scale offer.  There were actually two offers in this one, see below:
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In this case, I looked around and found that the cheapest price I saw the BC-548 for was $60 – or about $20 higher than their offer price.  Not bad.  The BC-552 was $100 in the few places that carried it – so it too was a ‘good’ offer at only $40.

So in theory, these were good deals.  But again, back to the overall value side – you’ve gotta examine the prices of these products compared to others.  Based on the testing I did, there’s no difference between a few hundred dollar Tanita Body Composition Scale, and a $30 one from Target.  In general, for body fat, they all kinda suck.  For weight, they’re all fine – be it a $15 scale or a $150 scale.  Neither of these scales integrate with other services and/or systems, which is primary reason I argue the value of something like either the Tanita BC-1000 or the Withings WiFi Scale, so in my mind, you might as well just save the money.

Next let’s look at the Timex Global Trainer that was offered this past weekend.  In this case, they offered it via a 3rd party company for $165 – including the ANT+ heart rate (HR) strap.

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This is actually a fairly decent deal – especially given the August firmware update that largely fixes the older TGT satellite issues and also adds ANT+ footpod support.  The going price on Amazon for the non-HR strap version is is about $180, which the cheapest I can find.  The price for the HR strap version (which is what they are giving you) is $215.  So Schwaggle is indeed saving you about $50 – and they throw in free shipping, not bad.

Now, for those curious – this isn’t actually the cheapest we’ve seen the Timex Global Trainer.  In fact, for the majority of the past year we saw it down as low as $130 at both Amazon and REI.  It’s slowly crept up in pricing in the past few months.  I do expect we’ll see some solid sales for the TGT over the next few months in the holiday period – so I wouldn’t worry if you missed out this time.  And as I noted to those that asked, I think the TGT is a very viable option now for the triathlon crowd, given the firmware updates.  It offers more features than the FR305 (which is $130), but is substantially cheaper than either the FR310XT or the FR910XT ($399+).  Of course, it does lack some of the finesse of the FR310XT/FR910XT, and some of the sizing – but those are tradeoffs that each person can decide on themselves.

So I’m curious – have you taken advantage of any of the Schwaggle deals?  If so – did you find them a substantial savings, or just a ‘good deal’ at the right time?  And for fun (since I suspect someone in the appropriate place will read your comments), what types of products do you prefer to see there?  I know that personally I’d love to see more deals like the TGT instead of sunscreen or lip balm…but I also know I might be in the minority.  Or maybe not.

Thanks for reading!

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30 Comments

  1. I got 4 tubes of Nuun and a water bottle for $14.45 (shipping included) in the spring. The regular price is $24 + shipping. That’s the only one I’ve gone for.

    If you’re an active.com advantage member (costs $ but you can get a 30-day free trial), you can get an extra 15% off the schwaggles.

    Reply
  2. I get the schwaggle emails but have yet to take advantage of any of them. The race entries are particularly “noisy,” if you will, because while that’s generally something I’d love to save money on, it seems the entries they offer are always halfway across the country (or, as you noted, the world).

    I love the offers for apparel, especially pricey stuff like Craft. The TGT offer definitely caught my eye but sadly was not in my budget at the right time. More tech offers would be amazing – especially GPS or maybe cycling related gadgets.

    How about some offers NOT to pay Active’s extra fees for race entries? Hmmm, probably not going to see that. :)

    Reply
  3. I have scored a couple deals from Shwaggle for things I normally use and would spend full retail on like NUUN and PureFit bars.

    I just used the KSwiss deal on the K RUUZ sneaks-I have been wanting to try them but did not want to drop $100 on shoes I may not like so saving 50%+ off was a great way for me to try them.

    I really wish I had not missed the H2Audio deal…damn!!

    I like to see a mix of things. Would love to see a deal on the 310XT….NEED!!!

    Reply
  4. As for Schwaggle, since I am on a budget, some of these deals come in handy. The only ones I have ‘pulled the trigger’ on are race entry fees. Since I live in Chicago, there are some decent discounts for viable races. And since I try to keep up my running training, races from 5k to 10k distances are perfect for me. The most recent one I went for was the Chicago Perfect 10 (10k race). I will run this on November 12th. Yup!

    Reply
  5. I hate paying the active.com registration fee. I’d much rather give 44 cents to the post office.

    I write a note on my registration thanking the race director for not forcing me to use active.com, and if there it is a charity race, I include an extra donation equal to the active.com fee that I did not have to pay because they had mail in registration.

    Reply
  6. I took the TGT deal a couple of days ago as a present for my father who is in his late 60′s and did his first tri this year (London).

    Reply
  7. I’ve used 3 schwaggle deals this year, and all 3 were half price race entry fees for local races. On a pretty tight budget right now, these are races I wouldn’t have been able to run without the deal, so I’m a fan….

    Reply
  8. The best way to save money is to buy less stuff that one doesn’t need. It always amaze me people with good paying jobs whose time is apparently valued at a high $/hour rate are willing to spend time and effort to save the occasional $10 from some remote internet site where you have no customer service and don’t get a chance to look at it before you commit. To me, a good local shop, even for a small surcharge, is the better “deal” most of the time, not to mention the environmental impact of all of that packing and shipping.

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    I noticed the same thing you did. If I recall correctly, the “deal” was for GU products. There was an inflated retail price which translated to inflated “% discount.” It was only pennies on the dollar cheaper to buy in bulk off amazon, if at all.

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    I noticed the same thing you did. If I recall correctly, the “deal” was for GU products. There was an inflated retail price which translated to inflated “% discount.” It was only pennies on the dollar cheaper to buy in bulk off amazon, if at all.

    Reply
  11. I have not used the Schwaggle deals. I receive them and usually look at them but they haven’t offered products that I’m interested in. I would rather save my money and buy the product I want (910XT) instead of buying something I could regret. Now if they have products that I’m interested in I would be sure to take advantage of them. I’m with you Rainmaker, hopefully we get more tech options.

    Reply
  12. Jake C

    I think they can have some great deals. I have bought 110% compression shorts for 50% off and then just today i got 71% off the 3/GO magazine! Worth it for me!

    Reply
  13. Jen Who Loves Pie

    I also used the 110% compression+ice gear deal, which I thought was a steal — that stuff lists in retail outlets (including Amazon) for the same price Schwaggle was using as the basis for their markdown quote.

    Reply
  14. yucko@alum.mit.edu

    Purchased two items from Active.com’s Schwaggle: one, the discounted ChiRunning DVD; and two, a $15 dollar off a $30 certificate to a local triathlon shop.

    My wife was about to take the ChiRunning class anyway, and we thought a preview of the concepts would be good thing. The cheapest price for the DVD elsewhere was quite a bit less than the Schwaggle’s listed listed price, so the claimed savings of 30 bucks was only about 5-10 (but the delivery time was pretty good).

    I figure I’d buy something from the triathlon shop like gels or speed laces or a set of innertubes, so the savings would be realized and not just become an excuse to buy more or something unnecessary. The advertised savings of 15 bucks was offset by a processing fee and resulted in a true savings of about 10 bucks.

    Prospective buyers need to do some research and recognize that fees will eat into the savings and that the claimed savings starts from the MSRP…otherwise, the Schwaggle will turn into a hornswoggle….

    alan

    Reply
  15. Earlier this spring they ran a half priced gift card for TriSports.com $40 for $80 worth of product. 2 per household.

    Considering I buy quite a bit of stuff from TriSports It turned out to be a great deal. They even allowed me to piggy back a discount code.

    Reply
  16. I bought the 2 for 1 clean bottle deal on Schwaggle this summer. I wasn’t really looking but it was during TdF and I was seeing lots of clean bottle ads.

    Now I lost one of the bottles.

    They are great and I need more.

    Reply
  17. Skippy74

    I’ll second the comment about the K Ruuz–I’ve been thinking about trying them since they actually come in my size BUT didn’t want to pay $100 or anything close so for $50 (including the shipping) it was worth it to try. I had also wanted to try Coffees of Hawaii and for $10 you got $20 and free shipping so worth a try to see if I like it.

    Generally though I ignore the race ones and take a quick look at the clothing/tech type stuff—TGT caught my eye but I had just bought a 310xt…would like to see more like that and the trisport type of (buy 1 get 2 concept).

    Reply
  18. Like most I get the deals and feel that in some cases they are tempting, i.e. the icing/compression, but by the time I decide (my case only) I have missed the deal.

    Waiting to see some more stuff come up maybe something worth while.

    Reply
  19. BillB

    Only used the deal once, but recently. 50% off Coffees of Hawaii. Love coffee, and following Ironman on the web and noticing their espresso boat, visited their website and liked what I saw on the environment and local culture and a tri connection too. Coffee shipped very fast and free. It is very good, but out of my price bracket for consistent purchases. Heading for Maui tomorrow though.

    Reply
  20. I’ve used a couple of them – one was $40 for $80 at a website, and another was a discounted race entry.

    I do like the offers, but one does have to do one’s due diligence about how good the deal really is.

    Reply
  21. Karl

    I got several items from the Schwaggle deals. So far, 2 races @ 50% and you don’t pay the active.com convenience fee. I did a last min sprint tri one week before Vineman just because it was so cheap. Great tune up and I even got 2nd place in my AG. I ran a half marathon as a training run for just $35 and again was 2nd in my AG and won one of those clean water bottles.

    Reply
  22. Kaves

    I “schwaggled” twice this year. (did i just coin that term?) Both for clothing, I think one was TriSports.com and the other was TYR.com – both were 40 for 80 or 60 for 120. The amazon comparison may have brought the savings down but because they were from vendors that I trusted with customer service and places I shop already it made a lot of sense.

    Reply
  23. I just got the TGT, and the whole time I was reading your post I was sure that I had gotten screwed…I’m thrilled to learn that I didn’t get screwed that much…or at least not until they go on sale. Why did I get it? Impulse buy. Thought it would be kind of a fun/big everyday watch. I use garmin stuff, but the TGT just looked fun. I’d love to see some nutrition stuff: Gu, Hammer, etc. Make it happen!

    Reply
  24. I took advantage of the Tyr website deal they had to stock up on jammers. I think that’s the only one I’ve actually used.

    Reply
  25. I have picked up a few things here and there. Mostly the half off webpage deals. The biggest thing I have noticed with these is that they are often coupon codes, not gift cards.

    I have tried to argue with Active about how one particular “deal” was sold as a gift code, and ended up having to be entered as a coupon. They would not provide a refund even though the codes were unused and advertised incorrectly since they were more coupon codes.

    Reply
  26. SSB

    I bought some SLS compression gear a while ago. I looked around to see if I could get the socks cheaper elsewhere but I couldn’t. And it was the reason I signed up for active advantage.

    I’ll add that one thing I wish active.com would do (is have gift cards. My mom would LOVE to give me a gift card I could use to register for a race. I suppose they could work for schwaggle too.

    Reply
  27. I used schwaggle for the 110% compression gear deal. It was a stellar offer and it is a company I already support so I knew the existing price of the gear. I would choose that deal again but obviously there are plenty I have skipped on.

    Reply
  28. I snagged the Craft Tri clothing, H20 coupon and today the 3Go Magazine love the clothing and have put 4-5 miles on the H20 and yes I had to buy an ipod but that’s a given I guess…but I always Google Shopping the items…just in case

    Reply
  29. Colleenie

    I love Schwaggle for their awesome deals on race entries. I only get schwaggle emails for local races. So I’ve purchased quite a few in the past year and a half. It’s the only way I do races. I don’t care for the products because then I know I have to do my research and check to see if there are better deals on other sites. That’s too much work :)

    Reply
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    Reply

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