Shopping online is incredibly convenient. Almost all products we can think of can be ordered, without leaving home. Year by year, online shopping is becoming more and more popular, and in the time of the coronavirus pandemic, it has gained even more significance. How to buy over the Internet not only cheaply but also safely? Here are some useful tips.
Several things attract us to e-shopping. The first and the most important for many is convenience - there is no need to leave home to order a new washing machine or fridge, television, clothes, a trip to exotic countries, or even food. The availability of goods is enormous, and what limits us is basically only our imagination.
Internet shopping is also beneficial for other reasons. Above all, it provides an opportunity to compare prices quickly and offers in various shops to choose the best suits. In comparison with stationery shops, the number of available products may also be greater.
However, along with the high-comfort of online shopping there are risks associated with it as well. Although it is not very common, unaware users may become victims of fraud. It is worth knowing how to protect ourselves and what to look out for.
Safe online shopping - essential steps
When shopping online, we must be careful to keep our guard up. Remember that even though we can find much lower prices online than in stationery shops, miracles do not happen. If a product is discounted by several dozen percent, and we do not know the shop, we should consider whether buying in such a place is actually safe.
The seller should be verified. Checking reviews from the last few months allows you to have an opinion on the subject. If a shop has been in operation for, e.g., a month, you might want to refrain from buying from such a place. Verification may additionally be easier if you check the entries in the National Court Register or the CEIDG.
We can, of course, skip this step if the shop is well known to us. However, when visiting a shop's website, one should make sure that it has an appropriate security certificate.
This is usually identified by a closed padlock icon in your web browser next to the address bar. You can also check what letters the link starts with. If it is HTTPS://, the website has the appropriate security certificates, and the connection to the site is encrypted. In other words, if you enter your data there, it should not be intercepted by unauthorised persons as it is properly secured.
If the padlock icon is not available and the website address starts with HTTP://, then it means that some part of the website or shop's resources is not adequately protected. In this case, we should refrain from shopping there.
Some online shops allow you to make a purchase without creating an account. Not all platforms offer such a possibility, so when registering you should remember to set unique passwords for logging in. They cannot be the same as those used to log in to e.g. Internet banking or other Internet services. Using the same password in many websites is not safe. Why? It is enough for a leak from just one website for our login data to get into the wrong hands. If they are the same for several websites, we can expose ourselves to loss of accounts in many services.
Memorising dozens or even hundreds of different passwords, however, can be too difficult. In this case, password managers come to our aid, which remembers them for us. They can also help you create a complex and difficult to crack password.
Writing about software, it is impossible to omit an antivirus program. The use of such software is recommended if we often shop online. Tools of this type can protect us not only against viruses. Some of them also offer specially adapted browsers, with the help of which you can safely log in to Internet banking or go shopping online.
How to pay safely on the Internet
The most popular e-stores offer a range of well-known payment methods. In addition to the traditional bank transfer, these can be quick one-click payments, BLIK, card payments, mobile payments (Google Pay, Apple Pay), etc.
The choice depends primarily on our preferences and which methods are supported by our bank. Nothing stands in the way of using a regular bank transfer. However, we must keep in mind that in this case, we should carefully verify the data we filled in before making the transaction. Be sure to check whether they match the information you received from the seller.
Online payments are more convenient; thanks to them, we can go directly to online banking and confirm the transfer without retaking the data.
The payment card is considered the right solution as well. Some people are reluctant to give their card details in unknown shops. In such a situation, it is worth using a virtual card, i.e., a service specifically dedicated to online shopping.
Services of such type are available at Conotoxia.com. The user can create a virtual card and pay online with it. As it serves only this purpose and funds are deposited onto it immediately before the transaction, we eliminate the risk of losing money. Even if the card details fall into the wrong hands, in the worst-case scenario, you will lose only the funds on it, as the card is not linked to your main bank account.
There is one more advantage associated with paying by online card - the privilege of using the chargeback mechanism, supported by payment cards issued by Visa or Mastercard. This solution is described in more detail in a separate blog article. Shortly speaking it allows us to apply for a refund in case we have been cheated or e.g. the ordered product or service was not as described in the offer.
Returning products ordered via the Internet
Most products ordered remotely within the European Union (usually by internet or telephone), without the possibility to personally examine them, can be returned without giving a precise reason. You have 14 days to withdraw from the agreement once you have received the ordered item, which is usually the day you collect the delivery.
If the ordered product does not meet our expectations, we can return it using the above-mentioned right. In this situation it is necessary to inform the seller about the desire to return the product. Most large web shops provide ready-made return forms, which need to be sent back e.g. by email. The information about the withdrawal from the sale may also be given by telephone or e.g. post.
After receiving the product, the seller has 14 days to provide a refund, including shipping costs. However, the buyer has to bear in mind that the return of the goods to the seller is covered out of their own funds. You can get a refund only for the shipping costs from the seller, but there are some restrictions here as well.
The buyer is entitled to a refund only for the cheapest shipping option which was specified in the seller's offer. Thus, if the buyer chooses a courier service for 7 EUR and the available options include 4 EUR postage, they are refunded only 4 EUR, i.e. for the cheapest shipping option.
The receipt or invoice is not always sent to us in a physical form. Sometimes it may be delivered as an email message to the address we specified beforehand, usually when placing an order. It is therefore advisable to archive such emails for quick and easy access later on.
Buy with common sense
Buying online can be a lot of fun and save a lot of money at the same time. Nevertheless, please be sensible. Not every attractive offer may turn out to be authentic. Some of them may be fraudulent, so before buying such an item, verify the seller. If the price of the product differs even by several dozen per cent in relation to other offers on the net and the shop is unknown to us, perhaps you should consider whether the cake is really worth the candle.