Shop smart online

Online retailers say this holiday season, problems with poor service, late deliveries, and unavailable items will be a thing of the past. In addition, some big names have entered the online market place-including The Bay and Canadian Tire. As a result, retail analysts expect online shopping this season will be very busy.

But online shopping still has some potential problems. So holiday spenders going shopping online should be on consumer alert.

Here are some tips for worry free online shopping:

  • Know your suppliers. Counterfeit products are widely available online. When shopping, look for professionally designed websites that provide contact information.
  • It’s always a safer bet to go with sites that give you access to familiar merchants and brand names.
  • Get full company addresses and phone numbers up front. Avoid doing business with companies or individuals who won’t verify their identity or full business name or provide a physical street address and telephone number for follow-up.
  • Record full details about your order and the return, service or warranty policies. Avoid buying from online retails who won’t provide descriptions of their policies before you place an order. Print out the page with the order and keep it until your products arrive.
  • Protect yourself and pay by credit card, keeping printed records of all your transactions. Be cautious about providing personal information.
  • Check the company’s privacy policy to understand what data is collected about you when you visit a Web site. Know how a Web site plans to use the information you provide when making a purchase.
  • Think about security. Always check for the padlock symbol or a notification of SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technologies (often noted at the bottom of the web page). This ensures the site you’re visiting is secure. This is especially important when giving your credit card information over the Net.
  • Check product prices to reduce the risk of buying illegal items. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Give the online retailer a chance. Order early enough for pre-Christmas delivery.