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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Online Christmas Shopping

I am one of the millions that embraced Online shopping years ago and I get looks of horror from some of the dearies where I work because to them it is a well known fact that the Internets are evil and people will rob your bank account every time you enter personal information like your pets name. But still I persist, even knowing these horrors and I am appreciative of their genuine concern for my new fangled habits.

I cannot, however, imagine anything more fun than parcels arriving from all over the world containing items that were half the price even with postage or so different that you know your gift will surely amaze.

If not for online shopping I could not have bought My US husband a Miami Dolphins T shirt which not only made him feel extra special but made me look like the best wife on earth. That gift guaranteed me many coffees over the holiday season, not that I had that agenda when I gave it to him but what the hey, I'm not going to pass up weeks of coffee's being made for me by a grateful husband.

It also adds to the excitement. Kids or spouses see the parcels and ponder over its contents "is that for me?", "wow, who is getting something from Yekaterinberg?

Most of us that are old pro's at online shopping are aware of the shortfalls, however, I thought I would make a list of things that I take into consideration before hitting that ACCEPT button just in case someone passed by my blog and had been pondering this very subject.

These are tips for shopping online just from my own experience. This is my own version of lists that I tick, not based on any advice from experts so it is up to your judgement to decide whether these tips are of any use to you. I have provided links for you to browse through at the bottom.

1. Always leave enough time for the goods to arrive in time if they are for a specific date.

2. Watch the postage costs. Sometimes it just isn't worth it.

3. Do some research on the company you are buying from. It doesn't take long and its a lot less effort than driving to a store.

4. Be wary of companies that don't offer a Contact Us page with a phone number or address. Even online business's operate from somewhere

5. Read the fine print. What kind of warranty or guarantee comes with this product and if it does break how hard will it be to return it to its place of origin, bearing in mind a lot of people will make you pay postage for returns initially.

6. If something goes awry, contact your bank or credit card people as soon as possible and let them know. We had a very large company stuff us around and Amex got onto them as soon as we had given reasonable time for the company to comply and our money was refunded. This is just an example of a personal experience and was not based on any expert knowledge of what to do on my behalf.

7. Always ensure you are dealing through a secure website. Look for the padlock symbol at the end of the URL line when you are at any page where you are giving credit card or bank details.

So these are the 7 things that I have noted that I do written up in a very informal list just for you to get an idea. For some really in depth and more precise information try these links.

ACCC ( the big guns)
Consumer Affairs Australia
Consumer Direct - Good user friendly information
What does the Padlock or HTTPS Symbol mean on my Browser?
I tried finding a good link to BBB guidelines but could not find one and with my fishbowl attention span I gave up when I was 4 pages into their site. Boring. Come on BBB, I have shopping to do, I cant be clicking through your site all day.

The Aussie and the UK ones give great information and places like that are there to assist you should you have exhausted all avenues when an issue with a company does arise.

Just remember, and I don't need any kind of education or expertise to tell you this, but
an online shop is just a shop that is online. Expect everything from an online shop that you expect from The Prancing Pink Pig Emporium bricks and mortar store.
Happy Shopping, whether its online or "in real life"...enjoy!!
And beware those Internets!


Lavender December 14, 2008 at 8:37 PM  

A great article for the un-initiated - well done Melanie!!

PG December 14, 2008 at 9:14 PM  

I do 99% of my shopping online, I could not go back to the days of wading through hoardes of frantic shoppers only to find out that you can't find 'it' or that 'it' has sold out.

Norah December 23, 2008 at 9:41 PM  

Impressed..! These are absolutely the excellent online shopping tips.

Gretchen January 12, 2009 at 11:26 PM  

Thanks for the tips..! When it comes to online shopping we need to be a little smarter.

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