Hey there! How’s your week coming along?
Today I’ll be talking about the dark side of online shopping.It’s become a craze,this online shopping thing.It’s become a craze to me as well because of so many reasons.The benefits are that you don’t have to get up,dress up and go to a clothing store or expend copious amounts of energy walking around the the mall.What you want is just a click away! Plus it’s as easy as googling what you specifically want eg. ”Dark blue suede pumps” and there it is .An array of online stores stocking them,as opposed to walking around town looking for dark blue suede pumps.The internet will never let you down . There’s also the benefit of getting something that’s not available locally. This post is mainly about shopping for fashion and beauty products but applies across the board even to electronics,hand-made items and so on.I’m a big fan of online shopping but is it worth the trouble? Let’s explore the obstacles and dangers :
Without using too many technical terms,this is the act of attempting to acquire vital information such as passwords,usernames and debit/credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity such as your bank.I almost fell for this, I’ll tell you that. So yesterday I received an email allegedly from PayPal which is a service that allows you to pay for goods and services online.I have an account with them and this Email said that my account will be disabled within 37 days if I fail to update my account info.The email directed me to a site that was a replica of the PayPal website .The Email was from PayPel(Which sounds a lot like PayPal to deceive you). Then the web address ends with .tk like .com .The Kenyan website ends with .com/ke . Red flags were going off in my head so I contacted PayPal and I’m waiting for a response but I’m almost certain it’s a spoof.My point is that you have to be extremely careful shopping online.It’s a jungle out there! Instal internet security if you can to prevent and eliminate such instances of phishing or someone might clean you out.Kaspersky that computer up. 😀
2. NOT AS ADVERTISED
Ok.So this also happened to me once.I bought a metallic belt on Ebay and it looked super on screen…till it arrived.It was pathetic.Poorest quality EVER! I was disappointed but it only cost about $4 so I let it slide.I didn’t even follow up with the seller which you can do on Ebay if the product is not satisfactory.It’s unwearable and it’s not…I just can’t with China.I just can’t.So when you shop online,my advice on this is that you buy a sample except if you’re sure you’ll get the quality you want.There are a lot of reputable sites out there so not all are dodgy .Read reviews on the website and independent reviews if you can, to see what others think . Below is an example of expectation versus reality.This lady (On the right) bought a dress for over 100 pounds from a chinese site which has a UK domain name so it ends with .co.uk (clever bastards) . The dress was meant to be made of chiffon.It came made of acrylic and the rhinestones were made of plastic. On top of that the dress doesn’t even look the same as the one on the left.Bummer.
3. RECEIVING THE WRONG ITEM
So you ordered an aztec print skirt size 8 but received a bright yellow cardigan in a size 14.The only question is HOW? When you were clear as day on your order.This can be extremely frustrating.Phew,this hasn’t happened to me and I hope it never does.You now have to keep contacting the seller and have to ship it back…WITH YOUR OWN MONEY,unless they offer free shipping both ways meaning they ship to you for free and it’s free for you to return it to them.Which takes me to the next thing,Customer Care.
4. CUSTOMER CARE
Thing is,they are prompt and polite as can be, or rude or non-existent and non-responsive.Some online stores will reply to your Email as soon as possible with utmost courtesy because they value their relationship with their customers,some will absolve themselves from blame and some,you’ll just never hear a peep out of them.If you encounter the latter it can be a nerve-wracking shopping experience.
5. ITEM FAILING TO COME AT ALL
Then there’s this.Every shopper’s nightmare.I’ve read
horror stories on the internet about how some people bought something months ago and are still waiting to date.When customer care is not responding and you don’t have your stuff yet,you don’t have anyone in the country of purchase to fight for you ,what do you do?
6. THE ALL-ANNOYING,UNPREDICTABLE CUSTOMS
Sellers offer a variety of shipping options(With shipping charges of course) like DHL,FedEx, Post etc. They use DHL as an expedited shipping option so you receive your stuff sometimes even in 5 days,so if you can afford expedited shipping,knock yourself out. I don’t know about DHL/FedEx but when using the post especially when your items come in a large parcel,you have to open it up and pay customs according to the value of your item(s). As you know,here in Kenya,customs can be a She-dog. We also don’t have the luxury of door-to-door delivery like other countries so it’s you and the post office. If you’re a rookie to online shopping,while shopping for the first time and you actually went all out, you will be devastated.Say you bought stuff worth $50 (which is currently about 4300 Shillings) and the nice people at customs decide to charge you over 50% of $50 depending on the rates of that area . Your total including purchase,shipping and tax may well exceed double what you expected to spend. Like I said…She-dog 😀 . Especially with customs in Nairobi you just never know.On online stores there’s usually a section on ”International Shipping” where they put a disclaimer cautioning you that you will bear all custom tax/duty by yourself.I have never come across a seller that actually fronts the custom tax.So before you actually buy that thing online find out at the post office how much tax they’ll charge you to avoid any surprises.
7. SHIPPING COSTS
Well,this is not really a peril but it’s just something that really really sucks.It’s actually the main barrier to me not shopping online.A lot of the stuff I love is on American and British online stores and when you live in this part of the world you have to be prepared to fork out a fortune for shipping.Or you have to contend with the ever prevailing phrase…WE DO NOT SHIP TO AFRICA.I’m usually like ”What do you mean you don’t ship to Africa?!” Take choies.com , forever21.com , boohoo.com and all the others have awesome stuff but do they ship here? No. I like the fact that asos.com ships to Kenya and that they offer free shipping but there’s customs.Shipping costs from mrp.com are only reasonable because South Africa is not too far from here.All hope is not lost because there’s this company that comes to your rescue.I discovered it on Facebook.It’s called Savo Store and you can check it out at savostore.com . You can buy things on American websites,they pay for you and they ship it for you to Kenya then you pay them after or you can use your own card and ship it to their US address from whence they ship it for you .For more information you can visit their website.
Online shopping is an easy way to shop but for it to be smooth sailing for you,be aware of what it entails.
Comb the website you want to shop from ;
- Read their terms and conditions if you can(which no one ever does except maybe if you’re a law student 😀 ) to avoid nasty surprises.
- Visit their section on FAQ(Frequently Asked Questions)
- Read about the company on their ‘About Us’ section
- Read reviews
- Read their Delivery and return policies
When it comes to sizing, countries vary.For example a shoe of size 7 and 1/2 for Americans is size 5 in the UK.Also Medium in China is not Medium for a Kenyan.So before you buy anything from a site check their size chart.
How do you tell if the website is genuine and is not a scam?Many sites have the following shipping and payment options at the very bottom of the page.Not all do. If a site has this,you can click on the PayPal button .It will lead you to the PayPal website showing it is PayPal verified and you can trust it.You can also click on the McAfee Secure Button which will lead you to McAfee Secure website which will show you the state of that particular website i.e that it has no spam, malware ,it has not been blacklisted or it has no suspicious redirections. If these two buttons are not clickable,the site is probably a sham. Also look at the date under the McAfee button .If the date is not your current date,it’s probably a fake website.
I know it’s easier to shop on local websites because the delivery and payment process is not so harrowing but international online shopping is not always bad so don’t count it out just yet.
Did this post help? And if I’ve left out anything about the dark side of online shopping,you can include it in a comment below.You can also share your best or worst online shopping experience.
With that,I wish you an awesome day! 🙂