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Published January 2nd 2014
Sometimes that online deal may turn nasty!
With the expansion of the internet over the past few years, online shopping is becoming a very popular choice. Undoubtedly you will find many bargains and online stores can give you the opportunity to compare the price online, versus the price in-store.
Of course, online can give the customer so many more options, from customising a t-shirt, to getting a product you could not get in your town. There is also the opportunity to create business opportunities by purchasing many products online and selling them locally.
However, whichever way you look at it, purchasing products online comes with a huge risk.
1. No warranty
Of course online stores give you a warranty, however to claim on that warranty can turn into a nightmare. Unless someone has gone through this weary process, there are not many who are aware of the struggles you will have to claim on a default product.
For example, if you purchase a product that is a certain size and the online company send you a completely different size product, then you would naturally contact them to let them know. Of course, most online stores will exchange the product; however you need to send the product back to them before they can issue you an exchange. This will not only cost you money for shipping it back, but it will also waste a lot of time. It is also very frustrating knowing that the problem was not yours but theirs, and yet 'you' have to deal with the problem.
While the bargain may be too good to pass up, it takes time to ship the product to you. Depending on where you are, this can take anything from 3 days to 6 weeks. However, if something does go "a-miss" in the mail, then you have to go through a whole process of claiming lost mail through the postal company, whereby both the postal company and the company you purchased from have to go through records to track the item in question. Sometimes getting a product may end up taking a 'lot' longer than 6 weeks.
While the product may be a fantastic deal, there is a cost (on the most half) for shipping. Some online companies may offer free freight if you place orders over a certain amount. However, some companies may only offer this option if the freight falls within a certain weight. If your product, such as a bicycle, is bigger and heavier, then you may end up paying freight. And, big bulky items can cost just as much as buying the product from a local store.
4. In-store Exchange
In is very amusing to see customers going into stores wanting to exchange a faulty product they bought online. The fact is that the store is not responsible for your mistakes. If you bought the product from that store, then they are responsible for following through with warranties and replacement. However, if you bought the product from any other place (especially online), then the store you bought it from is responsible for exchanging products. Some online stores do not offer a refund or exchange option and you are often left to deal with the faulty product. It is not the responsibility of the local store to fix a your online problem.
5. No Knowledge
Google is amazing tool. You can find out information about almost anything. However, if you don't know what you are looking for, you would not look for it. Sometimes knowing what to order online before ordering it is a big plus. And, many customers go in store to gather this information so that they can order online. The problem is when you have 'some' information, and not 'all' the information, the chances are that you will order the wrong thing.
A prime example would be something like bicycle handlebars. Handlebars come in different lengths and diameters. By not having handlebars that correctly fit you, means you will be off balance, which can result in an accident. Furthermore, handlebars are attached to the bike by a stem. If you don't have the right size stem or stem diameter, then there is a huge chance you will order the wrong thing. And fixing this problem will cost you more because you will have to return it (shipping fee), exchange it (time), and then order the one you 'think' is correct. Local shops have all the information that you will need and sometimes buying tricky things like this is best done through a local store.
If you found a product that you like online for an absolute bargain then add GST to it with the freight. The chances are that the product is the same price as the one in store.
Most people forget that when they order a large quantity of products that go over a certain dollar amount, that they will have to pay GST on this product. This product will be held by customs until the GST is paid. This could take you a lot longer that you had planned.
7. Pay upfront
Online stores require that you pay for things upfront. You do not have a monthly payment option, and often you can feel out of pocket, especially if the product is kept at customs or if it goes missing in the mail.
Believe it or not, there are a number of websites that steal credit card details. Even if it looks like a secure site, there are cases where people have entered in their credit card details only to receive a rather absurd credit card bill at the end of the month. Furthermore, banks charge a currency conversion fee, which means that online bargain just got a little more expensive.
Of course, there are many that have had success with online shopping and would probably do it again. Granted, online shopping allows you to compare pricing, shop at a time when most stores are closed, and offer you instant service that you may not get in a store. However, on the most half, online stores do not necessarily offer you a bargain, especially if the product is faulty.
If you believe that the product is just too good to be true, then make sure you have covered all the bases, which includes, shipping fees, exchange fees, warranties, etc. Sometimes, it pays just to walk into a local store and purchase the product from them. If there are any problems, let them be the one to deal with it. After all, that is a service you are paying for and sometimes life is just too short to worry about the small stuff.
I have lost a lot of money when overseas suppliers fail to send my purchases. Ebay instructs buyers to make contact with seller and I always do, but the seller asks you to wait, then wait more, so that Ebay's 45 day window to lodge complaint has CLOSED and there is nothing you can do to get yr money back! Same with Paypal. Several items with Tracking Numbers have been registered as being received at Melbourne Airport. But then those items have disappeared completely - never to be heard of again. Someone out at Melbourne Airport has my purchases and there is nothing I can do about it.
Items from USA are 70% likely to 'disappear', and their post charges are horrendous! Clothing from Asian is very small even when stated as Large. Handbags have been really cheap & nasty, compared to the photo in the advert. If you cannot afford to be cheated, or to lose items that disappear on the way to you, then do not buy on line. I'm certainly not doing it again. Australia is dreadfully expensive, but at least you can see items and return them, or complain to consumer affairs.
I had a problem by ordering something almost two months ago, and I am still waiting for it. Online payment may offer you a cheaper option, but I don't think the time in waiting for the product is worth it. It might even be lost which means a bigger headache. >:(
Why not use the new Veryfier app to hire an independent third-party person to go out inspect and check the item before you purchase? It is really important that the inspection should be done by a 3rd party person who will give an honest review and report. Download the app at the Veryfier website or go to iTunes store and install the VeryfierApp.