Tips for Online
Know Your Merchant
Be familiar with
the name and reputation of any web site at which you plan to shop.
You can find helpful information about the credibility of online companies
from news sources, directories, and certifications posted on the site,
such as a WebAssured or Trust-e clickable "Seal."
Protect Your Privacy
Be aware that,
typically, merchants collect information about their customers. It
is your right to know exactly what information a merchant has compiled
about you, how they intend to use it, and if it is their policy to
share or sell it to others.
Credit Card Savvy
Before using a
credit card for online purchases, verify that the page requesting
your credit card information is secure (encrypted) so that prying
eyes can't see what you enter. You can tell that a page is secure
if the letters https:// - rather than http:// - precede the page's
URL, if there is an unbroken key or padlock symbol located in the
corner of the web browser, or by reviewing the page information function
available as a pull-down menu item in most web browsers.
Buying from an
individual on an auction site such as Ebay? Don't have a credit card
or the seller doesn't accept it? Don't take a chance on giving out
your money without getting what you paid for. Protect yourself by
using an escrow service or alternative payment method such as PayPal.com
or Layeway.com to make sure you're satisfied before the seller is
Sound Shopping Is In the Details
Check for expected
delivery dates, shipping and handling fees, warranties, return policies,
and other important information before you spend a cent. Most reputable
online stores offer a money-back guarantee and many will reimburse
you for the cost of returning any items. Be sure the merchant's contact
information is readily available in case you need assistance with
questions, problems, or service.
Keep Up To Date Records
Make sure to print,
or save electronically, any records related to your online transactions,
including information regarding shipping dates, shipping and handling
fees, and any other pertinent details of your transactions.
Know Your Rights
The same laws
that protect you when you shop by phone or mail apply on the Internet.
A company must ship your order within the time stated in its ads.
If no time is promised, the company must ship the order within 30
days of receipt of order or give you an "option notice."
Who Can You Trust?
companies are now online. You can check them out with WebAssured,
or the local Attorney General and Better Business Bureau Chapter.
Newer or lesser known companies may deserve every bit as much of your
confidence, but probably aren't tracked by conventional offline resources
because they are so new - that's where the WebAssured certification
can be most helpful. Of course, you can also talk with friends who
have shopped online for referrals and references.
He Who Hesitates Is Lost
gifts are especially time-sensitive, we encourage consumers to act
quickly when they do suspect a problem. Contact the merchant's customer
service department as soon as you have concerns. If the merchant doesn't
resolve your issue, don't hesitate to file a complaint with WebAssured.
Over 80% of complaints filed with WebAssured get resolved within 48
hours or less, which could mean the difference between giving holiday
gifts versus giving holiday IOUs...
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to Online Consumer's Bill of Rights