In the past one year I have heard so many cases of my friends getting in trouble and losing money by getting into bad deals online. For me it was always surprising, I guess it’s because I follow some strict rules and up until now even if I had any issues, I managed to resolve them by being precocious. And yes, I am addicted to online shopping and order like 10 things a month…minimum.
So here is my smart guide to how to shop online safely:
1. WHY NOT EBAY?
Let’s start with the easy one. What website are you exploring and is there a possibility to find it on Ebay or Amazon? If yes than just move your biz there…
2. WHO ARE YOU AGAIN?
Was the website advertised on a random website as a google ad, while you were searching for a pair of UGGs or did it arrive in a spammy e-mail? The second one is guaranteed to be a total scam so be careful.
3. THE UNKNOWN..
So let’s say you could not find XY on one of those safe places above. What to do then? Make sure the website is legit. What I do in this case is google the website, find reviews, check all the links on the website to make sure they don’t take me to weird places. Are people satisfied with the website and their products? Read..read..read! If you can’t find anything about the website and the links take you to let’s say Nike’s official website…SCAM.
AND NEVER rely on a website, just because it looks professional. NEVER. Also, if you can investigate their physical address and the US based website is actually in China, than well you know..ABORT MISSION.
4. WHERE’S DA GUARANTEE..
Don’t forget to check the policies and returns. For example, can you even return the product if you do not like it and how? Is your private information guaranteed to stay private?
5. THOSE PHOTOS..SO PERFECT..
You are on a website, you read the rating and you checked the return policy and it seems fine. How about those photos? When the pictures uploaded just seem too off and do not look like they have been taken by the website in charge. When they look like stock photos, or you recognise the background and realise they are from the original website, than you can be sure that either the product will NOT look like any of it or the person behind the product was too lazy. Do you want a person like that handling your money and the product? If possible, ask for real photos and wait for the response.
If you get them, cool. If the response is something like ‘these are my photos’ (clearly not), or ‘I can’t my camera is broken’ or whatever just go..run away from that offer.
6. WOW, SO CHEAP!
You are looking for a new Gucci bag and found one ‘original, authentic, new’ for $250? Be sceptical. These products don’t grow on trees, if the original price is $1500 for a bag or $200 for a pair of UGGs, the max. difference must be around 50% and not more, unless you are shopping at the brand’s TRUE outlet.
7. WHAT ARE YOU?!
Carefully read the description of the item. Is it new (if that’s what you need), is it damaged, is it the actual product? Yes, it happened that someone bought an actual photo of the product, because he has not read the description that did say ‘photo of a Samsung TV’ for a high price actually.
8. PAY UP..
When shopping on a no-name website, make sure you can pay via PayPal. That good fella will always have your back. In case you have not received the product you will receive the money back and in case the product is not as described it will be PayPal’s problem not yours. Even if the seller disappears, you can be sure it will all be fine and your money is safe.
If there is no PayPal option, than the last is to go with a credit card. Those have your back as well according to the consumer’s act and the bank behind it acts like PayPal.
Never pay by Western Union. Just don’t. I am not saying it is impossible to get a good deal out of it, but if this is the only option, just don’t!!!
9. SO SECURE..SO SSL
Everything seems legit and you are already paying for the product when the windows appears where you need to fill out your credit card info or log into paypal. ALWAYS check if the page is secure and has an SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption. What happens then, is the website URL changes to httpS..not http..httpS and an icon of a locked padlock will appear. This means your info will remain confident (basically) for any hackers out there.
10. YOU NEED WHAT AGAIN?!
I had a conversation with a friend not long ago, who mentioned she was asked to provide extra info like her passport details. DON’T.
So basically these are the rules I have followed and will continue to follow. Always expect the worst rather than a good deal. ALWAYS. I am sure there are other tips and advises, but I came up with these ones and have been following them for many many years and they never failed.
If you can really not decide, drop me an email or a comment and maybe I can help out :)