The popularity of online shopping has increased in recent years, and Better Business Bureau wants consumers to be smart and responsible before emptying the virtual shopping cart. Click "buy" with caution.
According to Forrester Research, online retail sales are expected to top $190 billion in 2011. This amount of traffic is sure to attract less-than-honest retailers. While the allure of shopping from home in pajamas is appealing, it is important to consider the implications of doing business with unknown online retailers.
BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington offers six suggestions for safe shopping satisfaction:
- Screen the seller. Research the business on bbb.org. Make sure it is a reputable retailer.
- Scope the security. Look for the "s" in the address bar of the website. "Https" means that the connection is secure.
- Schedule the shipping. Read shipping conditions to make sure gifts arrive in time to be under the tree. Check with Fedex, UPS and USPS to understand the appropriate holiday deadlines.
- Swipe for settlement. Pay with a credit card. Be stingy with personal information if it is not relevant to the transaction.
- Save the specifics. Always read the fine print to understand the retailer's return and refund policies. Look for "restocking fees" or warranty information, if available, and print copies.
- Study a sample. Don't be taken by surprise. If the product is available locally, try to examine it physically before purchasing it online.
For more safe shopping help, visit the Federal Trade Commission's Online Shopping and E-Payments website. For other holiday advice, check out bbb.org.