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During the holidays, forget parking problems. You can shop from home!

In addition, for Valentine’s Day and Christmas, you can find real bargains on the net and the shipments are fast.  Just punch in your credit card number, and it’s done.

Well… not really.

Companies make shopping online so simple that we sometimes forget to pay closer attention to the charges. You found a great bargain online. Now what?

Shipping and Handling
First check the shipping and handling charges. They can be disproportionate at times, especially if the item you buy is not very expensive. Check if shipping charges are cumulative.

You may order a few CDs and be charged the same shipping cost per cd. This doesn’t seem very fair since the shipping will be done in one package. Go for companies that charge less the more you buy.
Use sellers with secure transactions.
This way you are sure your credit card number will not be stolen.
Most credit card companies have protection against fraud, but check with the company what is their policy for online purchases.
The Wise Online Shopper
Practical Tips
for Internet Shopping
Online shopping can be a very rewarding experience. There are many advantages to online shopping. The stores never close, you don’t have to get dressed, and most of the time, you find a greater variety of choices, which make for a very pleasant shopping experience.

Restocking fee? No, Thank you!

Check if there are restocking fees. For electronics and cameras, these can be up to 10 - 15% of the price or more. Companies charge a restocking fee to avoid buyers that “borrow” items, (especially expensive items), and then return them after they have used them for a while.

One of the good things about buying on line is that it is tax free, (at least until the politicians will catch up with it) …  Yes, only if your seller is out of state. If you buy from a large online retailer, and they have an office or shop in your state, they will collect state taxes.

Check WHO you are dealing with

Be cautious before giving your credit card number away. Go to the “about us” section of the website and check WHO you are dealing with. Check for the physical address and phone number in your country, and a description of the company.

And if you don’t feel comfortable with the website you are considering, or you see something suspicious, just leave and use a different company. There are so many opportunities on the Internet that you will easily find a different seller with the same item.

Policies: Check the fine print

Check their policies and make sure they will charge your credit card only after they shipped the item you bought. Make sure also you can cancel the order if the item is late or arrives after the promised deadline.

Use sellers with secure transactions so you are sure your credit card number will not be stolen. Most credit cards have protection against fraud, but check your credit card company’s policy for online purchases.

And remember: if it’s too good to be true, probably is not.

After you have completed your online transaction, you will be shown the total cost that will be charged to your card. This is the amount you need to consider and compare.

Be wise, and your shopping experience online will be pleasant, saving you money and time.

Have fun!

Anna Maria Volpi - © Anna Maria Volpi

Return Policies

Check the return policy. You may need to return an item.

Sometimes there are no returns allowed for certain goods, such as software if the package has been opened, or for personalized items.

Check if the company provides for a “free of charge” return  or if you have to pay for the shipping back instead. Also check if the company will reimburse the original shipping cost when you return the item.

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