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October 17, 2013

Tips for Safe Online Shopping

There seems to be more and more online retailers these days. There’s not a day when I don’t see an ad on Facebook from these shops and, from what I hear, online retailers have also invaded instagram. The come on for most of them are branded products, bags in particular. While the market for some is extremely high-end, there are also those who entice buyers by selling branded items at discounted prices.

I’m all for being thrifty. I love a great bargain! Who doesn’t? Especially when it comes to branded items. And I’m all for online shopping because it is convenient. You can shop anytime, anywhere, and most of these online retailers also offer delivery service. But I do take caution when purchasing items from unknown sources. Here are some tips to help you feel more secure about your online purchases:

1. Check out authenticity of the item at the source. Look for the particular item on the official brand/company website or you can also save a picture of the particular item on your phone or tablet and bring it to the brand/company store nearest you. If it’s there and looks exactly like it or if a sales associate can recognize the item from a previous collection or season, then chances are it is authentic.

2. Compare prices. While verifying that the item is indeed a real product of the brand/company, find out the original price too. If it is a reasonable discount, then likely it is real. They probably just got it on sale from a country that has lower sales taxes or maybe got it from an end of season sale. However, if they sell it for extraordinarily low prices, then maybe you should think twice about making that purchase.

3. Always opt for cash on delivery (COD). While most of these vendors promote prepay arrangements for customer convenience or require it to secure the item, push for COD terms. This way, you avoid any problems with refunds in case you are not happy with the item. All you’ll need to pay for is the delivery charge.

4. Inspect the item when it is delivered before accepting. If the item does not meet your standards and expectations, don’t hesitate to return it. Remember, a known brand will not sell substandard items even when it is on sale. Look at everything closely. Try the zippers and hardware (buckles, frames, feet, etc.), check the lining, check the stitching, feel the materials. If it’s not what they made it to be in their post or advertisement, then you have every right not to accept it. Hopefully, you followed tip no. 3 and didn’t prepay.

5. Be extra meticulous when items are overruns. Some vendors are able to sell items at a cheap price because they are factory overruns and they are able to purchase these items in bulk. Overruns are not exactly considered fake but it does mean that it did not meet the brand/company’s standards, which is why it never made it to their stores. It might mean just a slight crookedness on the stitching or a minor discoloration in the material but bottom line is it didn’t pass their quality control.

6. Make sure items can be refunded or at least exchanged. If there is no other option but to prepay, find out return/refund and/or exchange policies of the vendor before making your purchase. If they don’t have any, make sure to ask. And if they say that all purchases are final and they don’t do returns/refunds or exchanges, then just don’t buy from them. If a seller is truly confident about their products, then they should have no problems with returns/refunds or exchanges because customers, though they ask about it, will never return an item if they are happy with it. They just want to be given that option so they feel a little more secure when making their purchase.

Happy online shopping!




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