Don’t Let Online Shopping Scams Ruin Your Holiday Cheer
Black Friday is around the corner, and the sale ads are popping up already. Holiday shopping season is in full swing, and one thing is for certain, if you have a cheer diva in the house, you are on the hunt for the perfect cheer gifts to wrap in sparkly festive paper (don’t forget the bow) and place under the tree this season.
The National Retail Federation states that 44% of holiday shopping for 2013 was done online and that number is projected to increase to 56% for 2014. This comes to no surprise. Shoppers can go online to look for different products and compare prices at www.hoteudeals.com to make sure that they get good deals.
Shopping online is convenient, and holds a more diverse virtual storefront for specialized customizable items, such as cheerleading apparel, sorority shirts and gifts.
Unfortunately there is a dark side to shopping online sometimes, and within this past year several consumers have found themselves paying for cheerleading items and then never receiving them. Etsy stores, Facebook pages, and virtual storefronts take orders, never produce the items, give their customers the run around, then close their website, and disappear altogether with someone’s hard earned money in their bank account. Not only does this upset the buyer, but it hurts other small business owners who are running a legit ethical online shop. Those who will be shopping online for expensive items such as radiant cut engagement rings, you should be alert and take the time to read reviews to avoid being scammed.
How can you avoid becoming a victim of an online scam such as this?
- Referrals. Ask your friends and family for suggestions on places where they have had smooth business transactions.
- Research. Read the reviews. Keep in mind that some of these business owners may con their friends into posting ‘positive reviews’ to make their company look legit. Look for the reviews somewhere in the middle and below, and read about the experiences.
- Years in business. New businesses need consumer support, but if you want to take that extra mile to be safe, look for an established business that has a few years of reputable seller history.
- Google is your friend. Google the business and the owner’s name. Look for anything that may throw up a red flag. Click the ‘News’ tab when you Google to see if the business or the business owner have been involved in previous disputes, previous charges, or found guilty of unethical business practices (or relevant crimes).
- Document. Keep all receipts, confirmation numbers, emails and written/verbal communication in a safe place.
- Trust your Gut. If you are repeatedly told an item is on ‘back order’, or the promised ship-by date is constantly moved back, it may be time to cancel your order and request a refund.
- Know your payment policies. If you feel a store owner is giving you the run around on a order, or you are getting a bad vibe about the sale being fulfilled, contact your credit card company or PayPal to dispute/reverse the charge. Read up on your payment polices BEFORE you shop. Some have deadlines and stipulations for disputes and it is important that you know all of the details beforehand.
- Report. If you are a victim of a scam, be sure to report the incident in every way possible. Some examples may be; police report, ripoffreport.com, Better Business Bureau, Facebook Sales groups, www.consumer.ftc.gov, yelp.com, any business organizations the member holds an membership to such as the chamber of commerce. The worst thing you can do is let it go and do nothing. If you pay for a product and do not receive the product, then you deserve your funds refunded. Take a stand and fight for that refund, and help alert others of the company’s scandalous behavior.
Images credit- Google Images