Thursday, August 1, 2013

Online Shopping

Using the internet to purchase goods or services saves considerable time and effort – and also presents you with the widest choice. There are, however, risks associated with online shopping and you need to take care with what you are buying, from whom, and how you pay for your purchases.

The Risks

  • Fraud resulting from making payments over unsecured web pages.
  • Bogus online stores/shops – fake websites and email offers for goods and services that do not exist. 
  • Receiving goods or services which do not match the advertiser’s description.
  • Being offered tailored prices based on information gathered by the retailer about your online shopping habits and websites visited.  

Safe Shopping

  • Ensure that any online retailer unfamiliar to you is reputable by researching them. Establish a physical address and telephone contact details. Remember that the best way to find a reputable retailer is via recommendation from a trusted source.
  • Remember that paying by credit card offers greater protection than with other methods in terms of fraud, guarantees and non-delivery.
  • Double check all details of your purchase before confirming payment.
  • Do not reply to unsolicited emails from companies you don’t recognise. 
  • Before entering payment card details on a website, ensure that the link is secure, in three ways:
    • There should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register. Be sure that the padlock is not on the page itself ... this will probably indicate a fraudulent site.
    • The web address should begin with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.
    • If using the latest version of your browser, the address bar or the name of the site owner will turn green. 
  • Some websites will redirect you to a third-party payment service (such as WorldPay). Ensure that these sites are secure before you make your payment.
  • Safeguard and remember the password you have chosen for the extra verification services used on some websites, such as Verified by Visa. 
  • When making a payment to an individual, never transfer the money directly into their bank account but use a secure payment site such as PayPal, where money is transferred between two electronic accounts. 
  • Check sellers’ privacy policy and returns policy.
  • Always log out of sites into which you have logged in or registered details. Simply closing your browser is not enough to ensure privacy.
  • Keep receipts.  
  • Check credit card and bank statements carefully after shopping to ensure that the correct amount has been debited, and also that no fraud has taken place as a result of the transaction. 
  • Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software and firewall running before you go online. 
  • Where possible, check that the price listed by the retailer on your browser is the same as that quoted on other people's browswers, to ensure you are not being monitored and overcharged. 

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Shopping

Here are some of the advantages of online shopping:

Parents of small children may find online shopping appealing. The kids can feel free to run around the house and create havoc without the worry of annoying fellow customers. Even if your children are well behaved it can still be time consuming getting everyone ready to go to the store. Keeping children out of the store, and even your spouse, in some cases may prove to be money saving as well. You won't have everyone begging you to buy extra grocery items not on your list.
Online shopping can sometimes fetch you a great buy. Some stores will advertise specials which can only be obtained by shopping online. For more expensive items like electronics you can typically expect to find online discounts of $50 or more compared to the price in store. Sometimes you may be able to find coupon codes which can be used at an online store to get a percent off the total amount of purchase.
You can shop online on your own time. Most stores are not open 24 hours a day/7 days a week, meaning that if you want to shop in their stores, you will have to shop within a limited time frame. However if you decide to skip the visit to the store and shop online you can shop any time of day that you wish.
Another benefit of online shopping applies to gifts for people out of state. You can buy gifts online and have them shipped straight to the recipient. By doing this you save the headache of having to wrap, pack, and ship the gifts out yourself. In some cases, stores will wrap the gift for you as well as include a special message. Sometimes stores will advertise free shipping offers which would make buying gifts online for out of state families and friends even more beneficial. Taking advantage of these offers means that you won't have to pay to have the item shipped. By avoiding shipping the item yourself, and taking advantage of free shipping offers, you can save money on the purchase of packing supplies.
Shopping online makes it easier to find unique and one of a kind gifts that you will not find in your local department stores. There are many online store websites dedicated to that special item you are looking for. Websites such as Ebay allow you to bid for or purchase products that are hard to find. Sites like Ebay can also help you to find great deals. Ebay users can bid on items of interest or use the buy it now option. By bidding on items on sites like Ebay you may be able to purchase your desired item at a discounted price. Some sellers on Ebay will even combine shipping or offer free shipping of your products, saving you even more.
You may be able to purchase items online that are not available or are sold out in stores. If a product you want is not stocked on the store shelves, there is a chance that you will be able to purchase it online.
Now that you know of the many benefits of online shopping, we will discuss the disadvantages of online shopping:
Buying groceries online may save you time, but it can prove costly. By shopping online you can miss out on great deals that can be obtained with coupons. Grocery stores that allow you to order online will typically charge you a pick up or delivery fee for shopping online as well. You may also find that you have to spend a minimum amount of money in order to have your groceries delivered. One online grocery store that I know of will not deliver unless you order at $150 worth of groceries. Another disadvantage of online grocery shopping is that you will be unable to pick out the produce or meat products yourself, which can lead to disappointment.
Shopping online can also add on extra cost to your product by having to pay for shipping. If you are buying a product for yourself or as a gift to local friends and family, it may prove to be wiser to make the purchase in store instead to avoid extra cost.
When shopping online you have to wait to receive your products, whereas shopping in store means you can get your product right away. If the product is an item you are dying to have and cannot be found online for a significantly cheaper price, then you may want to make your purchase in store instead.
You won't be able to compare products in person. Sure many online store websites have a feature which allows customer to rate products which may prove to be helpful. However what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another. Some people who fill out online reviews for products can be deceitful as well to trick customers into purchasing or not purchasing a product. When it comes to comparing products, such as cameras and televisions, it's always best to make comparisons in the store. If the store is running a good deal then you can make your purchase in store since you are already there.
Returning or exchanging items bought online can be more difficult than making a return or exchange of products you've purchased in a store. Some stores will allow you to make returns and exchanges of products you've bought online through their website, though others may not. Stores that only do business online will require you to repack and ship the item back to them to receive a refund or exchange. Some online stores may not reimburse you the cost of shipping meaning you will have to spend money out of your own pocket just to make the return. Always read the return policies of the online store's website to know what to expect.
When shopping online for a product you should do a price comparison between several online stores to find the best deal. Always make sure to print out a copy of your receipt and/or write down the confirmation number for your purchase. You can also keep a copy of your e-mail receipt for a quick reference. Always read an online store's shipping and return policies to better understand how they work. Search online for codes which can save you money on shipping, fetch you free gifts with purchase, or can discount the price of a product. Always be careful when sharing your credit card information online. Secure websites should display a lock symbol at the bottom of the page. Do any research that you can for online stores that are not well known. Shopping online can either cost you extra money or save you money. Make sure to do your homework when considering shopping online to find the best deals.


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