Something non-horse related for a change. The CHOICE website shared an interesting article with us regarding online shopping a while back. I thought I’d share with you some of the highlights of this article, the Do’s and Don’ts of online shopping if you like.
Shopping online can find you a bargain, with top-selling items costing far less than if you'd bought them in a local bricks and mortar store. So it's no wonder that online shopping is on the increase, but despite its popularity there are still some hazards that savvy shoppers can avoid. Our guide to online shopping will help the novice internet buyer, and probably give experienced online shopaholics a few extra tips as well.
Can you trust the retailer?
Safe online shopping is all about doing your homework. If you've never shopped online, start with recommendations from family and friends, and always try to find out as much as possible about the company before you hand over your credit card details.
If something goes wrong with your transaction, the more information you have, the better off you'll be. Look for the business's address, phone number and ABN (Australian Business Number) if it's a local site. This tells you it's a bona fide business.
We usually recommend paying by credit card when you're shopping online. It's a widely accepted payment method and you shouldn't be liable for unauthorised or fraudulent transactions made with a credit card. The rising concern about online fraud, however, suggests it's not an entirely safe option. So what are the other options?
If you're dead set against keying in your credit card details every time you shop online, a third-party payment service may suit you. These facilities act as an intermediary between you and the merchant so you don't have to disclose your details to sellers. The drawbacks, however, may include registration fees, transaction charges and a limited number of participating websites.
PayPal is an online payment service owned by eBay that allows you to send money to anyone (as long as they have an email address) via the internet. You register with PayPal to set up an account that's linked to your credit card or nominated bank account. To pay for items, you log in to your PayPal account and enter the email address of the recipient and the amount. PayPal then sends an email notification to the recipient, who logs into their PayPal account and checks that the money's arrived. It's one of the safest ways to pay for goods, particularly if you use online auction services.
When you're confident you've found a trustworthy site and you're ready to buy, follow these steps.
Delivery problems are one of the most common complaints reported by online shoppers, with goods taking weeks to turn up, arriving damaged or not getting to you at all.
As a precaution, try to make sure your item is in stock and check the expected delivery time before completing your transaction. Most good retailers will notify you via email when your order's been received, as well as when the item is shipped or if there are problems or hold-ups.
Read the fine print
While standard consumer rights apply to most items bought online (except through auctions), it can be difficult to achieve redress in the virtual world. Taking precautions early on can save you hassle down the track.
Before buying, check all the terms and conditions including:
Maintaining your privacy
For the same reasons you keep receipts and invoices in the real world, it's important to keep track of online transactions. A good website should send you an email confirmation of your transaction, as well as provide the opportunity to print your order.
Hope this helps new customers feel safe and protected when using our online shop!