These days, everything seems to revolve online. Email, social media, cloud computing – the world is getting so digital, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that’s not connected online or has a hashtag following it around like a Vampire’s familiar. The good thing about all of this convergence is convenience.
In fact, times are so convenient, you don’t even need to get out of the house to buy groceries if you choose to. You can have it shipped to your doorstep! You can shop for just about anything you want online, and the fact that you can do it your pajamas is totally glorious. But like any good thing, there’s a catch: getting a bad deal.
Mercy, Mercy Me
Bad deals are prevalent even in brick and mortar stores. The only difference is, you can check the item all you want for defects or anything out of the ordinary, and request for new stock should you find something wrong with it. When you’re buying something online, you’re at the mercy of the seller, regardless if it’s from eBay, Amazon or some other retail store.
You’re also at the mercy of the shipping company. There are countless stories out there of lost or misplaced items, broken items upon arrival and items that get shipped someplace else by mistake. Despite the readily available tracking number, it’s a nightmare to try and locate your shipment if something goes wrong.
Who, What, Where, How Much
When buying online, your first order of business should be to check and compare prices from different websites. Go to competing stores and do a price check. Most websites offer price match guarantees, so if you can find anything online that’s cheaper, let them know and see if they can match a competitor’s lowest price.
If you’re using sites such as eBay or Amazon, make sure you check who the seller is and where the item is coming from, especially for used items. Other customers leave feedback for a reason, so make it a point to spend time reading feedback for and against the seller to give you a clear picture of who you’re dealing with.
Item location is very important as well. Choose a seller near you for the chance to get free shipping or reduced shipping costs. Only buy from international sellers if you can’t find what you’re looking for from a local online seller. You’d have to wait anywhere from 2 weeks to one month for international shipments to clear customs and whatnot.
Craigslist is a little risky because you really don’t know what you’re getting, who’s selling it and the site doesn’t offer buyer protection like eBay and Amazon. The site itself is lacking in this regard, but it does have a section on how to avoid scams and fraudsters operating on the site.
If you use Paypal, you can file a dispute, but if the seller doesn’t accept it, you’re out of luck. It’s not the website’s fault, because it serves it’s purpose as an online classified ads site with no pretensions that it’s something else.
That being said, it’s not as convenient as the other sites, because you’d always have to meet the seller, inspect the item and proceed with the transaction if you like what you see. It kind of defeats the purpose of doing everything online and never leaving the house.
Get shipping insurance if you’re getting valuable items. Insurance is cheap and will save you the headache of having to deal with the shipping company. Once an item leaves the seller’s hands, it’s all about the shipping company and the seller is not responsible for mishandled or items lost.
Get protection by getting insurance. A small amount will go a long way to securing your goods during transit.
See You Online…Or Not
There are sites for just about anything. If you’re looking for car parts, eBay has you covered. Looking for books and other items? Amazon has what you need. Even snowmobile parts and accessories have a home. You just need to find the right online store that carries everything you need and stick with them.
Most online retailers have coupons and loyalty rewards for frequent shoppers. Make sure to claim yours if you’re eligible. Most of the deals and rewards are pretty good, and you can save money on items.