Buying Online: How to Avoid Getting Hosed at Checkout Time

The only thing that is worse than ordering an item online that was entirely misrepresented is ordering an item and not receiving it. While online shopping carts are the most convenient ones to fill, there are also risks associated with shopping online. E-commerce baskets and channels have completely changed the way that a majority of consumers price shop, but that doesn’t mean that every transaction goes smoothly.

There’s always less-than-reputable sellers offering unclear sales ads or subpar products to take people’s money. If you don’t want to become a victim, here are some tips to consider following before you ever proceed to a virtual check out:

Buy From an E-Commerce Site That Offers Guarantees

You never want to pay for something that won’t ever be mailed to you. Unfortunately, if you’re logging into an e-commerce platform that you’ve never heard of and you’re expecting for a stress-free result, you could be expecting too much. The first thing all online shoppers should do is review the terms and conditions of the site.

Many of the most reputable online e-commerce sites offer their shoppers cash-back guarantees if they don’t receive their goods or the goods are defective. The top competitors in the industry will even refund a purchase if it’s not delivered to your front door by the date promised. Some of these sites include Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Ali Express and purchases made with a Paypal account.

The only disadvantage to having multiple e-commerce accounts is that it can be daunting to organize all of your accounts and keep track of usernames. Fortunately, you can still get deals and keep track of your account, and keep your information secure through sites like Joinesty.

Check the Site’s Security Credentials

You want to be sure your information is safe and confidential. If someone decided to create a shopping environment overnight without much thought, they wouldn’t have privacy policies or terms and conditions on the site. One way to guarantee that the company is taking proactive steps to prevent your information from being stolen is to look for a security credential on the page.

Make sure it’s a legitimate one and not just an image that’s used to try to trick inexperienced consumers. If there’s no DigiCert or SSL certificate, shop somewhere else. If you’re signing up for an account through a provider like Etsy, you’ll quickly be able to reference the privacy policy and access the TRUSTe Privacy Seal that proves that the company is dedicated to keeping your information safe.

Send the Seller a Message

Sellers who are doing business online want to profit from a transaction. If they are serious about e-commerce, they will be responsive. After all, if you’re happy, you’ll tell your friends where to find the cool item you bought. Word of mouth is the best advertising. If you’re using a site where you can shop for products for sale by different sellers, send a message and ask questions to see how responsive they are.

Pay Attention to Shipping Costs

Many sellers ship their items using flat-rate packaging through USPS. That’s a competitive way to get mail to a buyer quickly and affordably. That’s also an easy way to account for the cost of shipping and handling when the seller is setting a price. If you don’t see a shipping fee on the listing, look closely. Before you check out, see if it’s been added to the cost. If it seems exorbitant or you have to pay extra to get the item within a reasonable amount of time, look elsewhere.

The Internet can be your best friend or worst enemy when it comes to shopping for a deal. You can find local deals in brick and mortar stores or you can find other digital deals that you can take advantage of without even leaving home. Be aware of the risks but also don’t miss out on the rewards out of paranoia.

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