From buying construction equipment and DIY materials to looking for customizable silicone souvenirs, people have gone to online suppliers for their needs. This shopping preference is now safer than having to risk going to malls and stores. Even groceries are already done online.
However, there are other risks when doing online shopping-the risk of fraud and scams, to name some. While online businesses have already flourished even before the pandemic, the recent rapid expansion of populations locked in their homes even brought more companies to online platforms, and thus also attracted more frauds.
Here are a few things you have to check out to save yourself from losing money doing your shopping.
Protecting yourself from frauds
Check the supplier-especially if they are resellers. Are they authorized dealers? Do they have proof of the authenticity of their goods? With so many reproductions in the market now-ranging from good quality fakes to bad rip-offs-it is best if you go directly to a company’s website for their products. But it is understandable why you could also opt for a reseller, especially if you are shopping for clothes and accessories. Resellers could have discounted products for products from the previous season. In this case, do your research. To be safe, go to the established online retailers and only explore new ones that had already been tried by your friends. For start-up companies, see if they have a real business address and if you could, check if they are a legally registered company.
Look at reviews. It’s easy to check companies nowadays. A business needs to have an online presence if they want to compete in the current market. However, not all of them are transparent with their operations. What you can do is checkif they have a feedback mechanism and if it works. What did former clients say about them? If you only see positive and high-marked reviews, be wary. They can simply be a marketing tactic. There are discussion threads online formed by consumers to you can check them instead and get real reviews. Any complaint that they did not get what they had expected is a bad sign. Damaged goods-some of them due to shipping mishandling-can be expected, but if they are not getting the product that the seller had promised, that is a different thing.
Check if your bank offers a different option for paying online. Some banks have this service to protect your credit card information. Check also other payment options where you don’t have to put at risk your bank data. There are other tips on how to ensure safe payment online-like making sure your gadget is not bugged, and you are using a secure network. Most internet browsers, thankfully, also have a built-in system that detects unsecured networks. It’s either you could not go into the site at all, or you see an alert asking you if you will risk proceeding.
Saving money from unnecessary costs
Check the shipping costs and the options you are offered. Most of the time, sellers offer free shipping. But that is not always the case, especially if you are buying from abroad. For this matter, try to buy the things you need from one supplier to cut on shipping costs. Online stores that gather different sellers also usually provide free shipping incentives. Check if the same seller is offering the items in these stores. The other way around can be done. Sometimes, sellers can cut their prices if you purchase directly. See if you can save more from the discounts than a free shipping fee.
Look at the guarantees of sellers. The downside of online shopping is that you don’t get to see the product before purchasing it. Think of all those expectations vs. reality memes that feature falsely advertised products. It is worth your money to look into this. Check if the seller would refund if the product is not to your satisfaction. If they wouldn’t, would they exchange it for another product? Or would they change it if it’s the wrong size? These are guaranteed by consumer rights, but sellers do not always comply with them. Many sellers only allow product replacement if the goods that reached you have been damaged. Check if the guarantees are applicable when they have discounts and sales.
As the market for online sellers is expanding, the rules are also changing. As consumers eventually become more discerning and careful, the frauds and unfair sellers will eventually be gone. But until then, do not allow yourself to become fodder for them and always be mindful when making your online purchases.
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