Last Deepavali, a website exactly like the famous Standard Fireworks one, including the logo, popped up. Except that it was spelled ‘Standards’. It was promoted heavily, and many were lured by the 50 to 75 per cent discount on pre-bookings. It had no netbanking or debit card payment option, and accepted only credit cards, and the card details were collected.
There indeed are very many advantages to being able to buy anything from furniture to groceries at the click of a button; but there are some downsides as well. Biggies like Flipkart and Amazon have thousands of imitators, like a website spelled ‘Flipcart’ for instance. Also, with a new online store mushrooming every other day, it is important to verify their authenticity before going ahead with the purchases.
It helps to go a quick Google search about the company, and importantly, check the consumer complaints database to find out if it is reliable and the products are good. Simultaneously, a quick scan of the brand’s Facebook Timeline will help understand complaints, if any, and also determine its efficacy in addressing them.
“Please double or triple check the domain name and authenticity before shopping online,” Arul added.
There are some broad indicators: “If the website asks you for payment details first up before the products are selected, be wary. Also, on the final page of e-commerce sites, you will notice a PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) logo, the official authorisation for the payment gateways. Upon clicking it, customers can check the validity of the certification. As much as possible, choose the ‘Cash on Delivery’ option,” he said.
Read the terms and conditions on warranty, and return and exchange thoroughly. Those looking to purchase memberships or vouchers for services must also check the reliability of the service. A call to the customer care helpline prior to making big purchases can help.
In case of electronics, purchase only from authorised vendors and recognised platforms to ensure the authenticity of the product. This will prevent shocks such as getting a used or defective product, or no product at all in some cases.
Finally, online shopping can also become addictive. It pays to have a list of the necessary essentials nearby, and log off once done!