Buying goods online has become a way of life. Simple, convenient and devoid of ‘real world’ hassles like queues and snarky assistants, the internet is, increasingly, the new mall or high street. While there are a million reasons we love virtual shopping, there are also, however, more than a couple of downfalls. The business of buying on the internet isn’t risk free; dangers of identity theft, virus infection, card copying and, of course, the plain old rip off, lurk at every turn. To help you to navigate what is becoming a virtual retail minefield, I’ve done some research and put together a list of 7 online shopping mistakes.
The internet is a big place. Instead of automatically doing your shopping at one particular virtual store, broaden your horizons and check out a few new options. It’s important to compare prices across retailers in order to make sure you’re getting the best deal; who knows? That tried and tested vendor might just be wildly overpriced.
While it is important to weigh up your options and check the prices across a range of stores, it’s also crucial that you only buy from safe, reputable vendors. Always check whether a site is secure or not – look for the magic ‘http’ – and remember, if you can’t see a little yellow lock in your address bar; get out of there. It’s also worth noting that different browsers use slightly different security icons, so make sure you understand the symbols displayed in yours at all times.
Often, sites will offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount. If your purchase comes in just under this minimum cost, consider adding something small and inexpensive to your shopping cart. More often than not, this will work out cheaper than the price of shipping the product.
Consumer experts suggest we keep an email account especially for online shopping. Using your personal address to buy goods on the internet will inevitably result in a load of unwanted email that will just clog up your inbox until you can be bothered to delete it all.
The key problem with shopping online is simply that, as the buyer, you can’t handle and examine an item before purchasing it. Dubious vendors capitalise on this fact and use it to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. The internet is full of sites advertising cut-price products, which, when they arrive on your doorstep, turn out to be flawed or counterfeit. Avoid this kind of scamming by shopping at authorised resellers only, and by avoiding all deals that look ‘too good to be true.’
If a site tries to ‘keep’ your credit card numbers, or indeed, any account information you’ve been using to make a purchase, it’s a good idea to abort the shopping session right away. Storing details of this kind anywhere on your computer -hard drives included -- renders you vulnerable to card copying and theft; don’t do it. Keep your banking info in the real world.
It’s important to check the price of an item online against the price of the same product at a local shop. If it’s cheaper in the store, there’s no point in forking out to buy it on the internet. Don’t be lazy: get up, go to the mall and save yourself some money.
The internet has revolutionised shopping, there can be no doubt about it. Purchasing products online is often easier, quicker and, most significantly, cheaper, than buying in the ‘real world,’ but, virtual retail can be dangerous too. Hopefully, my list of 7 online shopping mistakes has helped to keep you alert to potential risks; do you have any important tips to add to it?
Top image source: public.starlook.ru
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