with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Shopping on the Internet

There are a lot of things to do on the Internet, and shopping is one of the most fun. You can buy just about anything you want on the Internet. The problem is getting it shipped to you. Living overseas can make this difficult if the company you want to order from won’t ship overseas, and if the country you reside in has strict and expensive customs fees. Before ordering anything, read the fine print and check the following:

1. Does the company have a return/exchange policy and procedure? How does it work?
2. Will they accept your type of credit card?
3. Will they ship to your area?
4. How will they ship it, how long will it take, and how much will they charge you for shipping AND handling?
5. What is their policy if your order is received damaged or wrong?

Then check with your local area postal office and country for the custom fee rules and regulations. Some items are not allowed to be imported, even for personal use, into a country. Other items get charged very high fees when passing through customs, sometimes two to three times the actual value of the package. Before ordering, make sure you know the rules and the laws.

What Kind of Shops Are On the Internet?

When I say you can order just about anything, I’m serious. I’ve ordered dead butterflies for displays, and you can even order cocoons for raising your own butterflies. Flowers are wonderful gifts for every occasion and www.ftd.com is an international flower delivery service. They also sell candies and other great gifts now. They even have a reminder service that will email you in advance of a holiday or anniversary to remind you to order goodies. You can buy shoes, clothes, makeup, vitamins, jewelry, food, gardening supplies – you name it, you can now find it.

Shopping Terminology

The following terminology should help you understand the shopping jargon of the Internet.

Shopping cart/Basket
The web page record of the items you have marked for purchase
Check out
The web page with the final list of your purchases where you enter in your credit card and delivery information
Account
A web page listing of your purchases in the past and credit card and delivery information. When you “register” with a web site, it asks you for information to help the company serve you better and to speed up your shopping experience in the future. You answer only the questions you choose to answer.
“Buy Now” or “Purchase”
The button you click to “buy” the item. It is then added to your “shopping cart”.
Quantity
On the check out page and in your shopping cart you have the opportunity to change the quantity of the items you are ordering. Enter in the number you want and click the UPDATE ORDER button. If you wish to delete an item from your shopping cart, click REMOVE or put a zero in the quantity and click the UPDATE ORDER button.
Secure Site
This means that the web page company is part of a network of companies who practice safe techniques for your shopping pleasure and safety. It means that the company is who they say they are. It means in general that you are safe using your credit card and that the software they use “hides” that information from prying eyes. It is a guarantee? No more than you can expect from shopping at your local department store.

Safety While Shopping

Shopping the internet is no different from shopping anywhere. But then, maybe safer. Trust shopping on the
Internet like shopping anywhere. You get what you pay for and you pay for what you aren’t paying attention to.
If you miss the fact that their policy is no returns or exchanges, you are stuck.

If you are worried here are three easy things to help ease your fears:

1. Use a separate credit card for your online purchases. This way you can track only purchases made on the Internet and not get things confused with all the purchases you make at the gas station and grocery store.

2. Use a separate email address for all your online purchases. This creates a cushion of privacy between your regular email and your purchases. Some Internet mail order companies will share email addresses. If you don’t want the junk email, or want to limit your exposure to it, this is the way to do it.

3. Check before you buy. If you are unfamiliar with the site or company, check them out at www.sos4auctions.com or through the Better Business Bureau.

4. When in doubt, don’t.

PASSWORDS

As you shop or just explore the Internet and register on different web sites for information, keep track of your passwords and user names. Some web sites will assign you a user name and password, and others let you choose your own. But can you remember 12 different passwords and user names?

Keep a list, either on your computer, or better yet on a clip board or notepad near you at all times. I use a clipboard for my passwords list so it won’t get lost. Note the web site address, the user name, and the password to help you keep track of them.

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