With the pandemic, the popularity of online buying and selling increased as well. People enjoy online purchase not only because of its convenience but on the wide variety of products it offers. More and more online sellers as well as online shopping websites are available and with such, online scammers are largely increasing too.
Below are 10 Online Buying Tips you should know for a smart and safe online shopping experience:
1. Always use a secure Internet connection when making a purchase.
Reputable sites use technologies such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that encrypt data during transmission. You can tell if this technology is in use when you see a lock icon in your web browser window. Another way is to check the address of the web page you are accessing; it should begin with “https”. By the way, never send your credit card number by e-mail.
2. Shop with businesses you already know and trust.
Many retailers now offer online shopping. One advantage is that some let you return merchandise to their stores, instead of shipping it back. If you want to make a purchase from a store you haven’t heard of before, do some research. Start with the Better Business Bureau. Also, make sure the site lists a physical address, not just a post office box. In every purchase, especially if not known, you should always check if the seller is legit. Also, check to see if it displays seals from consumer protection organizations such as the previously mentioned Better Business Bureau Online and TRUSTe. However, keep in mind that these images on their own don’t mean a whole lot since they can be easily copied and added to any webpage. Clicking on the image should take you to a webpage that verifies that the website is BBB or TRUSTe certified.
You can also see what other shoppers have to say about a particular merchant by checking reviews at Bizrate and by doing a search with Google. Enter the name of the merchant along with the keyword “scam”. You may discover some interesting results.
3. Look for coupons and other discounts.
Many online merchants offer rebates that can save you a bundle of money. To receive the discount, typically you enter the coupon code in the order form. It’s then deducted from the total purchase price.
For travelers, many airline sites offer weekly specials and e-fares. To keep informed of these discounts, sign up for newsletters at their websites. Before checking out from a website its worth taking a few minutes to visit RetailMeNot to check and see if there are any current offers that might apply to the retailer you’re buying from.
4. Comparison shop.
So-called shopping bots compare prices for products across dozens of shopping websites. You’d be amazed at the range of prices.
5. Be skeptical.
Be wary of deals that appear too good to be true. They probably are. If you have suspicions, contact the merchant directly. No phone number listed on the site? Then take your business somewhere else. Also, take a few minutes to research the site online by using a search engine to search for the name of the website along with the word “scam”.
6. Check the shipping costs.
Shipping, especially for next day delivery, could make the total purchase price more than what you would pay in a retail store. At one time, many sites offered free shipping as a way to attract customers. While those days are over except during the holidays, some sites still offer free or discounted shipping for select items, purchases over a certain amount, or with a valid coupon code.
7. Protect private information.
8. Review the return and refund policies.
How can you return unwanted merchandise? How long do you have? Will you receive a full refund? Who pays for return shipping? An e-tailer should provide answers. If not, call the merchant before you buy.
9. Pay with plastic.
In the U.S., credit cards offer the same consumer protection whether shopping online or offline – you are liable only for $50 USD if your card is used fraudulently, and quite often the credit card company won’t hold you liable for any fraudulent charges. You can also challenge charges and withhold payment in the event of a dispute with a merchant.
An alternative payment option, particularly for buying from auction sites, is setting up an account with PayPal. You electronically transfer money from your bank account into your PayPal account, then use it to pay merchants. This ensures that you are only trusting PayPal with the details of your financial accounts and not ever online store you make a purchase from.
10. Print a copy of your order for your records.
After you submit an order, you will get a screen with details of the transaction. Print out a hard copy or save a copy as a PDF on your computer. Sometimes there is a link to a webpage where you can check the delivery status. You should also receive an e-mail confirmation with details on how to inquire as to the status of your order.
There you go with the top tips you should know when online shopping. While it has a number of advantages, it sure has its risks too. As much as we enjoy the shopping experience online, we should always on our guard of fake sellers.
The internet has certainly revolutionized the way people shop. And with the numerous benefits of going online, more and more people prefer to shop at home than doing the conventional method of going into stores. But, along with the popularity of online businesses, online scammers are in the look out too. Therefore, we need to be cautious of them and make sure that we are dealing with legit online sellers. For one, we must be wary of big discounts or too good to be true prices of best-selling products and other trending online products because we might just be the next victim of a scam or worse, our financial information can be stolen.