5 Tips For Shopping Online Effectively
1. Be Secure
Everybody loves shopping but when it comes to online shopping how can you be sure your payments are secure? In today’s day and age, paying for goods and services with credit cards is the preferred method of payment. As an educated consumer you must remember that your credit card number is static and it doesn’t change until you close the account or get a new card reissued. If your card is already online it could be compromised if it falls in the wrong hands.
Take measures to minimize risk when purchasing online. First and most importantly, make sure all of your online shopping is done through secure sites. If your not sure weather a site can be trusted or not you can look for the small padlock icon usually found in your browser by the URL. You can also tell if a site is to be trusted by looking at the URL address itself. Secure sites will typically begin with https:// – (the “s” indicating that the site is secure).
Make sure to never give out your personal information or account numbers via e-mail. If a merchant asks for your information in this matter you can be sure the merchant is not equip to handle your money!
Make sure your credit cards are up to date. With recent cyber thefts including major retailers like Target and Walmart the credit card companies have begun a shift in security to the new EMV Smart Chip Credit Cards. Upgrading to the new cards will give you added security. For more information on the new EMV Smart Chip Technology visit: http://emvnow.com
2. Bargain Hunting
Online shopping gives consumers a wonderful new advantage — bargain hunting and comparison shopping. Before the Internet, finding the rock bottom price for an item meant searching through magazines and coupon book, traveling from place to place, searching the malls or calling through pages of directories.
If your lucky enough to be alive in today’s day and age, sites like DealFly and others like it let you comparison shop and find the best deals available on the market with just the few clicks of a mouse. There are also thousands of blogs that let you sift through pages of review on products to make sure you get the item that you want.
3. Credit or Debit?
When checking out online we would advise in only using credit cards, rather than debit cards. Credit cards express a representation of credit, where as debit cards deduct the money directly from your personal bank account. A potential hacker with access to your banking information can do a significant amount more damage than those with just a credit card number.
When you use a credit card you are protected under the Fair Credit Billing Act, which means you are limiting your fraud liability to only $50 no mater what the charges are. In fact most major credit card companies sometime offer zero fraud liability! If your still not comfortable with putting your credit card out there on the web you can even get a single use credit card number for your online shopping.
4. Plan Your Purchase
If there’s one thing that customers hate it’s waiting for your package to arrive after it has been ordered. We strongly recommend that you plan your purchases ahead of time to make sure there arrival is on time. This is especially important around the holidays. Federal law requires that online retailers ship their products within the specified shipping dates. If no shipping date is given a maximum period of 30 days is allowed for transactions.
If you have many items to purchase try to find a retailer that can handle as much of the order all at once. This will cut down on shipping fees as well. By doing it this way, your packages should be bundled together into one large package with the shipping fees attached. Many online retailers also offer free shipping so look for these guys where ever possible.
5. Beware the Restocking Fee
With more and more consumers purchasing their goods and services online the shift away from brick-and-mortar retailers has already begun. However even without a physical retail location, merchants will always need a warehouse to store their products and that means restocking fees.
Warehouse’s need employees that will require salaries for the work they provide. Typically, paying a person to go retrieve your item after you’ve purchased it and complete the shipping process is already baked into the purchase price. However, when an item happens to be returned it must be repackaged and replaced and this creates additional costs to an item that the retailer has not made any revenue on. In order to compensate for this occurrence, online retailers have begun charge additional restocking fees on returned items.
While this is a somewhat reasonable requirement for the luxury of being able to shop in your pajamas, some restocking fees of up to 25% on heavily packed products such as electronics can sometimes come with a hefty price tag. Be sure to get yourself familiarized with the merchants exchange and return policies. They should be well stated before you are asked to provide your credit card information.