Shopping online is a very easy and convenient feature of the internet, but it's important to make sure that you shop safely to avoid any potential downfalls. We're sure that over the years, you've heard all about identify theft, credit card theft, phishing, spoofing, and the many other scams out there on the internet. It's important that you as a consumer is educated to avoid such issues by being on the lookout for anything “suspicious".
We recommend that you review these websites for tips on how to shop securely online:
Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc. gov)
Better Business Bureau (www.bbbonline.org)
Safe Shopping (www.safeshopping.org)
There are tons of low-price search engines out there to help you find the best deal you can on the products you want. When selecting a merchant; be sure to check their sales, shipping, and return policies. If you don't feel comfortable, move on to another merchant. There are millions of places to buy online, competition is fierce, so be sure to choose a merchant who has high ratings to avoid any possible problems!
SHOP CLEARANCE SALES
Almost every online retailer has a clearance section where their products are marked down more then 50% off their retail price. This is where you'll find the greatest savings! One great resource we found for locating clearance sections is the AntiCost.com clearance sale pages. They link you directly to the outlet, clearance, and other blowout sales on the internet.
Most major retailers offer free shipping, although sometimes you need to qualify for free shipping by purchasing a certain amount of money, or even as simply as selecting the “Free Shipping" option. Sometimes this means that it will take a little longer to get to you, but saving $7 on shipping makes it all worth the while! Be sure to explore each site to find out what options you have for shipping; it might just be worth the extra time!
GET CASH BACK!
Most payment of online goods is done through using credit cards; so why not shop online using a cash-back or rewards based credit card? It's a win-win situation especially if you pay off your balance every month. Choose the one that fits you best and start earning more while you shop! Most programs offer from 1% cash back all the way up to 6% for qualifying purchases!
Many online retailers offer a “low price guarantee" or “best price guarantee" on products you purchase from them. Whether it is through price-matching or offering you a refund, you can use this to your advantage. Some retailers will even allow you a 60 day period during which you can receive a partial refund (usually the difference, excluding taxes and shipping) on an item you purchased from them if you find a competing retailer offering the same product at a lower price! There are even some Credit Card companies that offer “best value guarantees" for any product you purchase using their card. While it would not be worth your time to price-match a new music CD, it can be very worthwhile for those high-ticket items such as televisions and computers. Sometimes it's nice to have price insurance!
TAX FREE MERCHANDISE!
The one great thing about ordering online from certain companies is TAX FREE merchandise. Yes, the government isn't too thrilled about this, and we're sure that sometime down the road we just might have to pay the dreaded “internet tax". You might as well take of advantage of it now. As long as the company you are purchasing from does not have a presence in your home state, then you are exempt from paying any type of sales tax. That can mean a big deal when you're ordering a $1,000 laptop. Take this situation for an example; let's say Company A offers a laptop for $1,000 with free shipping but you have to pay 6% sales tax making your total cost $1,060. Company B offers the same laptop for $1,000 with no tax but has a $25 shipping fee making the total cost $1,025. Which one would you purchase?
SAVE RECEIPTS & EMAILS!
With almost every online purchase; you'll receive a e-mail confirmation with your order number, date, and total cost. SAVE THIS EMAIL! If you ever have to call the vendor to find out where your order is, they most likely will require you to supply to order number. We also recommend that you save a printed copy of each email confirmation for your own personal records. Sometimes when you order something online, you might not get a receipt in the package, so it's always good to have one stored away “just-in-case".
BEFORE YOU BID!
The thrill of online auctions can be very addicting, but be sure to do your due-diligence before committing to bid on any online auction. The first thing you should do is read the item's description in detail. Many sellers can deceive you with their fine print, so be sure you read thoroughly! Next, obtain any shipping costs BEFORE you bid. Any online company will let you know what it will cost to ship an item before you commit to purchasing, so why should it be different for auctions? Beware of the sellers who sell products at extremely low prices with extremely high shipping costs. If everything still looks good, be sure to check the sellers reputation based on their past sales history. If you're bidding on a high ticket item (anything over $50.00), make sure that the seller is reputable. Online Auction Scams top the list of consumer complaints when it comes to online fraud, don't let yourself become a statistic! Also, keep in mind that some sellers may not offer any type of warranty for items you purchased from them. Most manufacturers may not honor a product's warranty if you purchased it through an online auction either. Sometimes it might be worth it to pay a little more at an authorized dealer to be sure that your product is fully covered by the warranty. And finally, PLEASE check online stores to see if they have the product for cheaper. Too many people are addicted to auctions, and addicted to overpaying for items they could have purchased brand new from a reputable online store.
Richard Iglar is a writer and contributor for AntiCost.com ; a shopping resource website.