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#1. SIMPLE INTERNET SHOPPING RULES AND TIPS
For people who want to be savvy consumers, the Internet provides some of the best information ever available.
Comparison shopping is one of the smartest ways to make sure of getting a good deal. With the web not only can you compare prices and specifications, but also get feedback from actual users in the news groups, read reviews of experts and look at company reputations.
For making a purchase however, the consumer should be careful and follow these simple rules.
DEAL WITH REPUTABLE COMPANIES
When you buy something on the Internet, you may know nothing about the company. It is important to make sure that the business is solid.
By this I don't mean that you should never buy from a company that you have not heard of. However, I do mean that you should check out the company thoroughly. Read the company's background on the "about" pages. Type in the company name plus the word "complaints" and see if anything comes up in Google. Next go into the "groups" section in Google, type in the company name and see what kind of comments have been posted.
Example: When reaching digital cameras, I found a company that sold photo equipment cheaper than anyone else. I decided to see if there were any complaints in the groups. When I typed in the business name, dozens of messages from angry customers popped up.
#2. USE THE PHONE
With important purchases make sure that there is a toll free phone number that is answered by a living human being (answering machines don't count). Make a note of the hours that such phone service is available.
Email is great for quick messages, but terrible when you need to ask a series of questions or get feedback. Often what could take five minutes over the phone, will take days with email. Either the person misunderstands your inquiry or only responds to part of your questions, or takes days to get back to you.
In short when you spend a lot of money or need something delivered by a specific deadline, you should use the phone to make the order. Write down the name of the person who took the order and the date and time that you spoke. Also make a note of the order number and any promises that were made, such as a specific delivery date.
I recommend not dealing with companies that do not provide a toll free customer service number.
In some cases, you make be able to get a company employee on the phone to walk you through the web pages of the company site as both of you look at the Internet at the same time.
#3. WATCH CREDIT CARD CHARGES
Since most purchases over the Internet will be with a credit card, always print out the page that confirms your order. Many Internet companies have one name but bill through a very different name. Write down the name of the company that you bought from, the company that is doing the billing and also the web addresses.
Pay special attention to the specific order number for your purchase and reference this number if there are any problems. Also write down the date that the order was made. File this printout in the same place as other receipts that you save.
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