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Ordering Online -- Tips

If you haven't shopped online yet but you would like to, before you buy that first product, take some time to educate yourself about online shopping.

Grab a cup of coffee or other beverage and settle down to read the information on SafeShopping.org. You will find information about security, privacy, the seller, and more. Here are a few highlights from the SafeShopping.org site:

  • Security -- only enter your credit card information over a secure connection. Typically you can tell that the connection is secure by checking the URL in the Address or Location box at the top of the browser window (in IE and Netscape). If the URL begins with https (instead of just http), the connection is secure.
  • Privacy -- only do business with companies that have posted a privacy policy and read that policy before you buy. If you don't agree to the terms in the agreement, take your business elsewhere. Also, look for any "opt-in" boxes for newsletters and other offers and uncheck any that you are not interested in.
  • Seller -- do not do business with a company that has SPAMed you. Reputable merchants do not spam.
  • Ordering -- if you do order online, before you click that last submit button, double check your order. Make sure you have entered the correct quantities, billing and shipping address, credit card number, etc. Print out a copy of your order.
  • Delivery/Warranty/Liability -- before you buy look for the policies of how to return an item, etc., and read the terms.
  • Customer Service -- identify how you get in touch with the company if you have a question or a complaint before you buy. Write the information down and keep it with a copy of your order if you do buy something.

Again, the above is just a summary, so please stop by SafeShopping.org.

Another site that provides useful information about online shopping is the Better Business Bureau. Stop by Shopping Safely Online and review the tips. Here are a few items from that page:

  • Be careful of offers that urge you to BUY NOW. Reputable merchants will give you time to make an informed decision rather than merely an impulsive one.
  • Know your consumer rights. The same laws that apply when you shop by mail or phone apply to online shopping.
  • Don't rely on a glitzy-looking website as a way to judge the trustworthiness of a merchant.

Visit the Shopping Safely Online page to get the rest of the BBB's helpful information.

Ordering online can be a great convenience and fun, too. If you do order online, remember to be smart. If you are particularly nervous about ordering online, your best bet is to use merchants you have heard of before, like Amazon.com. Or use the website of a merchant you like from the "brick-and-mortar" world. Also, you can ask your friends and family about their experiences with ordering online and try the merchants that they have had good experiences with. Follow the advice of the two sites mentioned above to help avoid potential problems with online shopping.