Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Thinking of Buying Online?

Online shopping is big business. Like the catalogue stores of yore, all manner of goods are available in virtual shops. You can browse the photos and make your selection in minutes, and your purchase will arrive at your door in a matter of days -- except when it doesn't.

Most of the time, online shopping is painless, reliable and secure, and for hard to find items, may be the only option. Online stores earn their reputations by reliably filling their commitments in a timely manner. I've also found that customer service can be first rate, and the people really know their way around the products.
So, is on-line purchasing all good news or will you be giving up some important perks and conveniences? Let’s see.

Shipping
A few on-line stores offer free shipping or may include it above a certain dollar amount. Otherwise it's a function of order size, weight and shipping distance. It can get expensive and it’s not refundable.

Warrantee/Returns
The product warrantee should be the same, but how do you act on it? You'll likely have to ship items back. And who will pay for shipping? Both ways? The process should be as pain free as possible.

Bait and switch
It looked so good on the web page. And what a great write-up! But when it gets to your door, what the ???? It’s rare, fortunately, but it happens. Many of the larger want ad sites offer vendor ratings. Some credit card companies provide protection for online purchases.

International Orders
A real shocker here in Canada, and a constant source of frustration, are excise tax and customs duty on international shipments. If a broker is involved, expect the tax bill to be anywhere from 20% to 80% of the order's value! This can be a deal breaker, so find out ahead of time.

Direct Sales
Some companies are opting to sell directly to the consumer, bypassing the normal sales and distribution channels. This can be good for the consumer since two levels of price mark-up have been avoided. And remember, there are still the issues of shipping and returns.

Try before you buy?
A good way to burn up good will at your local music store is to try out stuff there … and then buy it on-line. But people do it all the time (and then wonder why music stores are struggling to survive). Better to stick with commodity items that are familiar or fairly generic if trying is an important part of the process.

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