Smart Online Shopping

Smart Online Shopping

If you're like me and​ millions of​ other Internet users, you are doing more of​ your shopping online these days. There are many reasons more people are shopping online today. People want to​ avoid the​ crowds at​ the​ mall, find lower prices, have the​ convenience of​ 24 hour shopping and​ find a​ wider selection. There are some pitfalls and​ drawbacks to​ online shopping but these can be avoided if​ you're a​ smart online shopper.

You have an​ idea of​ a​ product you want to​ buy. You go to​ one of​ the​ big 3 search engines online, Google, Yahoo and​ MSN, to​ do some research. or​ perhaps you use one of​ the​ many comparison shopping sites to​ find a​ store that carries the​ product you are looking for. Now that you've found the​ store and​ the​ product at​ the​ price you're happy with, what's next?

First, take a​ look at​ the​ store contact information. Do they have a​ toll free number you can call and​ talk to​ a​ real person if​ any problems arise? Perhaps they are a​ very small or​ new operation, if​ they don't have a​ toll free number, do they at​ least have a​ regular telephone number to​ call? the​ very least a​ store should have is​ an​ e-mail address where you can contact them. if​ all you find for​ contact information is​ a​ web form to​ fill out, leave quickly!

Second, take a​ look at​ the​ return policy of​ the​ store you're considering. Sometimes the​ store owners make this more difficult than it​ should be. if​ you don't see a​ button on the​ main page saying, Return Policy, look for​ an​ info page. a​ reputable store will give you at​ least 30 days in​ which to​ return your purchase for​ a​ full refund of​ the​ purchase price. Don't expect the​ shipping cost to​ be refunded. the​ merchant has already paid that amount to​ the​ shipping company. Look out for​ stores that shorten the​ return time to​ 7 or​ 10 days. Many of​ these also have a​ restock fee that they charge. if​ you return an​ item to​ them, the​ restock fee can range from 10 to​ 30% or​ higher. You should never have to​ pay a​ restock fee.

Third, take a​ look at​ the​ stores privacy policy. They should never share the​ information you give them when making a​ purchase with any 3rd party. if​ you have any questions or​ something isn't clear up to​ this point, call the​ store. You should expect to​ talk to​ a​ real person during business hours and​ after hours you should be able to​ leave a​ message and​ they should return your call the​ next day. if​ you contact them via e-mail, they should reply within 24 hours. if​ you have any trouble contacting the​ store before a​ sale, you can be assured that they won't be easily reached after a​ sale. So it's time to​ find another merchant.

One of​ my pet peeves is​ unsolicited e-mails from online stores where I've made a​ purchase. if​ they send newsletters or​ sale notices they should have an​ opt in​ signup. if​ you didn't sign up for​ any promotional material to​ be e-mailed to​ you, you should never be contacted by them, unless it​ regards a​ problem with your order being completed and​ shipped. Personally, when I receive unsolicited e-mail from a​ store where I've made a​ purchase, I contact them. I tell them to​ take me off their contact list and​ that I will never do business with them again. if​ enough of​ us do this, maybe they'll take the​ hint.

There are many reputable companies, both large and​ small, online. You can buy great products at​ low prices and​ receive wonderful service. Just keep your eyes open for​ the​ few bad actors online who try to​ take advantage of​ you.

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