If you’re sat on your sofa scouring Amazon for Christmas presents, then you’re probably an advocate of online shopping – and what’s not to love? It’s economical, it’s convenient, and you don’t even have to put down your glass of wine to make a purchase. While it’s true that a savvy online shopper can save both time and money, however, you need to ensure your Internet shopping is safe and secure.
So, before you pledge to avoid the queues this year and shop from the comfort of your home, consider these four facts about online shopping.
Promotions Can Be Misleading
Say you receive an email promising you 25% off your next purchase from your favourite online shopping site. Once you head to the virtual checkout, however, you realise you need to spend over a certain threshold to qualify. By this point, you’ve already spent time choosing your items, so you reluctantly pay more in order to get the discount. It sounds backwards because it is, but the fact you were confused is no coincidence. Businesses rarely advertise promotions that don’t benefit them in some way, so if you think an offer is too good to be true, it probably is.
Shipping Can Hike Up the Price
Have you ever shopped on Amazon or eBay for a few different items, only to see the total price increase by £20-£30 when you get to the final stage of the purchase? The price of shipping can be extortionate, especially if you’re buying your items from different retailers, so look out for free delivery options wherever you can. Again, many sites will only offer free delivery if you spend a certain amount, so only go for this if you planned to spend that much anyway. As long as you don’t mind waiting a few days for your goods, shipping will usually be free and not an issues you have to consider.
Sometimes There’s No Returns Policy
It can be difficult to shop for clothes online, but most of us do it under the assumption that we can just return an item if it doesn’t fit. Most legitimate retailers will have at least a 28-day return period, and sites like ASOS even offer free returns. However, some online shops may dictate that you can only return something unopened or if the tags are still attached. They may even dictate a fixed return period, such as 7-14 days. If in doubt, always read the small print. In situations where you feel cheated, know your consumer rights and don’t be afraid to complain.
Unsecured Sites Can Be Dangerous
Look out for that padlock icon and check that selling sites use a payment gateway, as this means your card details will be held securely and have to be verified by your bank. Hackers and identity thieves can access your information at the click of a button, so always make sure you know you’re buying from a legitimate source. Another way to tell if a site is secure is to look to the web address bar: If there’s an “https” rather than “http” in front of the address, then the checkout is secure.
So, before you set yourself loose in the online marketplace, practice caution and be a little savvy when it comes to those promotional emails. Keep your information safe by only buying from secure sites, and always read the small print.