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Online Shopping Tips
Why shop online?
Though shopping in local B&M (Brick and Mortar) stores do have its
advantages. You can look at and try the actual product before you buy; you can
get it the day you buy it, easy return, and the chances of being cheated at
B&M stores are not so big because most of them are reputable authorized
dealers of the products they carry.
But recently, online shopping has been more and more popular. Most people
choose it because it is:
- Simple: Get online and starting shopping. You can easily go to 50
stores in one hour. When you find the right one, add to cart and place your
order. As simple as a few clicks and you are done. No driving, no waiting
for sales person, no hassle.
- More info: You can compare prices, find
best deals, check feature listing and search product shopping guides and
reviews online. Just go to google and thousands of resourceful sites are
under your fingertips. Some may be misleading, but read over 10 of them and
you can get a pretty good idea on what you need to know. You can make your
own decision with right knowledge, not just according to what the sales
- Cheaper, No Sales Tax: Mostly onlines stores offer lower prices
partly because they spend less to run the store. Also, order the stuff from
outside your state and no sale tax will be charged. It is a big saving if
you buy something expensive.
Choose a good online store
Shopping online can be dangerous. The fact that you can't go to the actual
store and can't see the actual product gives the fraud activity a lot of space.
Basicly, anyone with Internet connection can open a store, list some product
names on it, collect your money and never ship the product to you. So how to get
the online deals and avoid being cheated at the same time? The simplest way is
Shop at a famous store or a store w/ local locations. There are many
repuatable big online retailers such as Amazon,
etc. The fact that they are big alone means more people use them and trust them
with their money. They are trustworthy and seldom make mistakes. And most of
them offer free return, better customer support and cheaper shipping. Or try
online stores that have the B&M store, or better yet, have the B&M store
near you. Best
are some examples.
But sometimes the big stores just don't have the product you need, or the
price is too high. In cases that you have to buy from a store you don't already
know, take these precautions:
The Look - if the site looks unprofessional and has thousands of flashing
banners and lousy texts on it, don't ever order from them.
The available information - looking for return policies, customer
service numbers (if they can only be reached by e-mail, go away), shipping
methods and charge, warranty information ... basicly everything you need to know
when there is a problem. If some of these information are hard to find or simply
not available, don't do business with them.
Corporate clients - if they have a corporate/Government clients
listing, it is probably more trustworthy.
Check the Address Information - Always check for the physical address
of an online company before you order. No P.O. boxes. No international addresses
including Canada. No New York addresses (because it is notorious for fraud). If
possible, also verify them with Better
Business Bureau. If there is any mismatch or they are trying to hide it from
you, go away.
Things to check before you order
Do they stock the products Ask if they have a physical warehouse to
stock the products they sale. If not, be careful because they may drop ship the
product from distributors and have no control over the shipping, return and
replacement process. Yahoo, Lycos and eBay online stores are some examples of
these kind. Always try to buy the product from a dealer that buys directly from
the manufacturer and stock the inventory. These dealers usually offer 30-day
guaranteed replacement policy for defective units and better wantanty.
Double check the warranty information
Free shipping is not always good Most people will feel better ordering
from a online store with free shipping because there will be no hiden cost. But
it is not always good. Some stores just use it to make you feel good -- they
either just add the shipping cost to the price or ship the item as cheap as
possible - which usually means slower and more problematic shipping process. If
you are ordering an expensive item online and want to get it fast and intact,
don't just go for the free shipping. After all, for expensive items, shipping is
much less than the sale tax you saved by buying online.
Order with the right card
Price Matching or BVG cards: Don't just go for the cash rebate, try
using a credit card with Best Value Garantee (BVG). With a BVG card, if
you find a lower price in print within 60 days, you can file a claim with the
credit card company to get the price difference back. You can find ads with low
prices in form of store flyers, or ads in some magazines. Using select AMEX
cards, you are covered for up to $250 per covered item, up to $1000 per year. It
is particularly useful when you are buying a computer/electronics product
because the price of these products are forever dropping.
Find a listing of some credit cards with BVG or cash rebate here
If the product comes with a rebate, be sure to get the rebate form when you
Hints for submitting rebates:
Keep a copy of receipts, UPC codes and rebate forms.
Record the date you sent out the rebate form, and, if
applicable, write down the serial number of the product.
Usually you should receive your rebate check in 10 weeks. If
not, call the rebate center. Usually the number is available on the rebate
You may find a fax machine very useful.
Some useful sites for online rebate
Online shopping tips by xpGadgets.com brought to you by xpGadgets.