Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Convenience of Online Shopping

As the holiday season gets into full swing, online shopping really picks up. It is a delightful way to find presents you would not find so easily close to home and you get to avoid the crowds.

Shopping online has many advantages, especially if you are shopping for family and friends who are far away. If you are going to have to ship the presents anyhow, shopping online can save you a trip to a crowded post office and the wait in line. That alone can make shopping online worth it. The challenge can be deciding where to shop. There are all the big names, of course, such as Amazon, but when you want to stand out there are many more great options out there

Comparison shopping is also easier online. You do not have to go all over town to see who has the best price. You can search various sites and figure it out for yourself. No car, no gas, no crowds. You just have to appreciate that.

Shop when it is convenient for you. Online stores are open 24/7/365. It does not matter what time is convenient to you, the websites are there waiting for you. If you have to shop for your own children it can be much easier to do the shopping online than to try and sneak presents past them.

There are, of course, some disadvantages to online shopping too. You need to be certain that the merchant uses your credit card and personal information appropriately. Before you buy anywhere, check the privacy policy and make sure the merchant is using a secure connection for taking your information. You will also want to check return policies. Returns should be fairly easy.

Here is a list of tips you should consult when shopping online:

1.Trust your instincts.
If you do not feel comfortable buying or bidding on an item over the web, or if you feel pressured to place your order immediately, maybe you should not.

2.Be knowledgeable about web-based auctions.
Take special care to familiarize yourself not only with the rules and policies of the auction site itself but with the legal terms (warranties, refund policy, etc.) of the seller's items that you wish to bid on.

3.Double check pricing.
Be suspicious of prices that are too good to be true. Also consider carefully whether you may be paying too much for an item, particularly if you are bidding through an auction site. You may want to comparison shop, online or offline, before you buy. Make sure there are not extra shipping or handling costs.

4.Find and read the privacy policy.
Read the privacy policy carefully to find out what information the seller is gathering from you, how the information will be used, and how you can stop the process

5.Review the return, refund, and shipping and handling policies as well as the other legal terms.
If you can not find them, ask the seller through an e-mail or telephone call to indicate where they are on the site or to provide them to you in writing. See Legal Terms.

6.Make sure the Internet connection is secure.
Before you give your payment information, check for indicators that security software is in place. See Security.

7.Use the safest way to pay on the Internet.
Pay for your order using a credit card. See Payment.

8.Print the terms.
You should print out and date a copy of terms, conditions, warranties, item description, company information, even confirming e-mails, and save them with your records of your purchase. See Recordkeeping.

9.Insure the safe delivery of your item.
If you are concerned you may not be home when your package is delivered and that someone may take it if it is left on the doorstep, ask whether you can specify that the shipper must receive a signature before leaving the package. Or, it may be safer to have the package delivered to your office. See Delivery.

10.Inspect your purchase.
Look at your purchase carefully as soon as you receive it. Contact the seller as soon as possible if you discover a problem with it. Tell the seller in writing about any problems you have, ask for a repair or refund, and keep a copy of your correspondence. See Legal Terms.

11.Do you know to whom to complain or contact if you are not satisfied or have a question?
Check the site for a customer service page, contact us link, e-mail address, or phone number to get your complaint addressed or questions answered. If you have a complaint, ask for what you think is fair even if it is more than the legal terms stated. A merchant is not forbidden from doing more than required to make the customer happy.

Online shopping can be a real delight when everything goes smoothly. However, it is not for everyone and it may not always be all that easy.

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