The Ultimate Guide To Shopping Online

I have written about the pitfalls of online shopping previously but with Christmas around the corner and more and more people shopping online, I thought it might be timely to repeat some of the steps to help consumers avoid a disappointing, or even disastrous, online shopping experience.

*Please read through my earlier article: Steps To Avoid The Pitfalls Of Online Shopping

In summary, that article explains why you should:

  • Check out the vendor’s communications and customer support
  • Check out an online store’s reputation
  • Always open the package and check the contents as soon as possible after delivery
  • Always pay using a reputable third-party payment option (such as PayPal) rather than via a credit card
  • Don’t trust images of the goods displayed as part of an item’s description

All that and more is explained in detail in that earlier article. Now, I am going to add a couple of additional notes.

How To Verify An Online Store’s Reputation

While there are quite a few online resources for helping to check an online store’s reputation, such as Trustpilot and Product Review, I believe most would be aware by now that while these resources can be helpful, these types of reviews can be gamed by the vendors who submit fake 5-star reviews for their own stores. So, here is another far better option – Scam Detector

Scam Detector is the largest fraud prevention resource in the world and is operated by a full team of professionals providing the best safety measures, along with our world-class partners. We help millions of people around the globe to take conscious consumer choices, for a better life”.

Scam Detector includes a “website validator” to check an online store’s reputation. Simply enter the store’s URL (website address) into the validator, click the VLTDR button, and wait for the results. Here is a direct link to Scam Detector’s website validator: Scam Detector Website Validator

Scam Detector’s website validator uses an algorithm to scrape and collate all data relative to an online store’s overall ranking and the reasons for the ranking are all explained as part of the results page. To help explain further here’s part of the results for an online store I passed through the validator:

(click image to enlarge)

Note the last sentence in the above screenshot: “One of the best things about using our VLDTR® tool is that the ranking can’t be rigged since it is not based exclusively on reviews that people write online”. 

As you can see, the store in question receives a very low ranking from Scam Detector and is obviously one to avoid. Scam Detector’s website validation feature is a great way to help ascertain an online store’s reputation.

eBay Feedback Explained

I shop quite regularly on eBay and, as is the case with many other eBay users, I rely heavily on the vendor’s feedback rating. A comment in response to my earlier online shopping article displayed a certain lack of understanding of how that feedback rating system should be used.

Ratings that confirm a high percentage of positive feedback are preferred, of course, but you should also take into account the total number of items sold. The ratio of positive feedback to the total number of items sold will give you a clearer understanding of a vendor’s overall performance.

For example, vendor A has 100% positive feedback but has sold only 4 items. On the other hand, vendor B has 98.4% positive feedback but has sold 120,000+ items. I would buy from vendor B over and above vendor A all day.

That is an extreme example but it is merely to emphasize the importance of taking the ratio of positive feedback to the total number of items sold into account.

Safe shopping and a safe and merry Christmas to all.

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