How to avoid getting stung shopping online

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Online shopping is huge and is only getting bigger. From clothes to groceries to holidays and cars. According to the National Australia Bank Online Retails Sales Index, online sales exceeded the $20 billion mark for the first time in Australia in 2016. 

Shopping online has revolutionised consumer behaviour in myriad ways.

Convenience: Shopping in your jim-jams or on a bad hair day and no one cares! And thankfully on those sleepless nights, online shops can pass the time and feed your credit card.

Choice: You can get several different brands from the one seller or search for the perfect pair of black pants while remaining comfortably seated on the lounge.

Competition: Comparing prices is simple and it’s equally easy to jump on a bargain when you see it.

Instant satisfaction: You don’t have to wait until the shops open to buy that new bag or outfit. Choose. Click. Pay. It’s on its way!

“I’ll have what she’s having”: You can see what others have bought, get recommendations and read reviews. This doesn’t happen in the bricks and mortar environment.

So, that’s five, big smiley faces for online shopping.

But there’s a darker side which can leave you disappointed, frustrated and out of pocket. 😞😟😠So here are our tips on how to avoid being swindled online.

1. Return to sender
Carefully review the return policy. Some websites will not accept a return for a change of mind while others will. When returning an item, some stores will make you pay for the cost of return, and then there’s the inconvenience of having to pack it back up and take it to a post office during post office hours…

2. Hello, hello?
Many online businesses don’t actually want to speak with you. Which is fine when everything is, well, fine, but what if something goes wrong? What if you’ve got a quick question about delivery, the product or care instructions? If you’re purchasing an item where you might have questions, see if there is a simple contact method. Even better, a phone number!

3. I can see clearly
Have a look at the images of the product on the website. Are they well shot? Are they real? How many images are there? If you can’t see exactly what you’re buying, there’s a good chance that you may not be buying what you think you’re buying.

4. Home base
Have a look and see where the company is based. Some companies may have a com.au web address and may even have “Australia” or “Oz” as part of their business name, but may be located in a galaxy far, far away. While they maybe perfectly legit, your item may take a long time to arrive and there is a greater potential for communication breakdown.

5. Socially active
See how socially active the company is, on their blog and social media – particularly Facebook and Instagram. If there aren’t many updates, the company may not be as active as their website indicates.

Avoiding these dangers were some of the key drivers for us to launch HelloCars.com.auWe know that online shopping can be fraught with danger, especially for buying high value items such as cars. This is why we have over 40 images of each car for sale, have rigorously inspected each car (230-point check-the most comprehensive in Australia) and we offer a 7-day/500km money back guarantee. Oh, and feel free to calls us. You’ll see our phone number on every page of our website.

Happy shopping!

Paul Higgins is Director of HelloCars.

This post first appeared at Yahoo7.

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