Online shopping advantages and disadvantages

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With the arrival of sales, online shopping is increasing. To avoid unpleasant surprises, we guide you through the four main stages, Advantages and disadvantages from the choice of your item to delivery.

Four Stages of Online Shopping

With the winter sales, you once again have the opportunity to do good business online. But watch out for the pitfalls. Between items that don’t fit the description, payment errors, and delivery issues, shopping online can sometimes be very risky.

So be careful before you buy and don’t give in to the sirens of any website. Here are the good reflexes to adopt in the four important phases of the purchase.

1 – Choose a trusted website

We advise you to favor known sites (Amazon, Fnac, Darty, Rue Du Commerce, Cdiscount, etc.) which generally do not present a risk. However, you have to be careful because these sites now offer offers from third-party sellers (Marketplace) which can cause delivery and after-sales service problems. Favor sales outside the Marketplace, even if it means paying a little more. If you want to hire a third-party seller, check their customer ratings and the reviews they have left.

In all cases, preferably choose a merchant located in France because it will be easier to settle a possible problem. Find the postal address of the site, for example by consulting the general conditions of sale (CGV). The site must also include legal notices. If not, go your way. Another element does not give confidence: a significant number of French mistakes in the texts. If in doubt, you can use a reputation extension such as WOT (Web Of Trust). It will tell you if the site is reliable or not.

If you really want to buy outside the Western Union, please be aware that you are likely to pay customs fees which include VAT. Sites like Gearbest manage to circumvent this problem by passing the purchases through a country of the Western Union.

2 – Take into account the warranty

The warranty offered by the seller is a criterion to be taken into account when purchasing high-tech equipment. You have to consider the duration, the services offered, but also the possible availability of a physical store.

Indeed, it is sometimes necessary to return products that have broken down by post and this can turn into an obstacle course if they are large, such as for example televisions. In this situation, sites such as Fnac, Darty or Boulanger are preferable because they have stores and can even offer breakdown assistance at home.

Take care if you buy from a third-party seller (Marketplace) on the Fnac, Darty or another site because it is not possible to return the product to the store if it breaks down. Remember that any product purchased in the European Union has a two-year legal warranty (see our article on this).

3 – Favor a trusted third party for payment

If you shop on a trusted website, like the ones mentioned above, you can pay by credit card without any problem. Just make sure the payment page is secure with HTTPS or the presence of a padlock icon in the address area. This means that your bank card data is encrypted between the browser and the online merchant. Be careful, because some sites offer to save your card details, which is certainly practical but can be risky because, in this case, anyone who manages to access your account on the site will be able to make purchases using your Bank card.

It is always possible to buy on other sites but we advise you to go through a trusted third party. Paypal is the best known in this area and the operation takes place in two stages: you pay Paypal, then Paypal pays the merchant. It is even possible to get rid of the bank card and ask Paypal to withdraw the amount directly from your bank account. Paypal has another advantage: in the event of a problem with the merchant, it is possible to open a file for this dispute and possibly be reimbursed.

4 – Request delivery with delivery against signature

Once the problem of payment has been resolved, it is necessary to focus on the delivery. We strongly recommend that you opt for tracking delivery, which lets you know where your purchase is from the moment it is shipped. But above all, avoid deliveries without signature because if the package is lost or stolen, you will have almost no recourse. And for expensive products, opt for a registered delivery to have the maximum chance of arriving safely.

If you cannot be home to receive the package, some sites offer practical solutions such as making an appointment for delivery. For example, Boulanger offers evening delivery, with a time slot of only two hours. For its part, Amazon has installed its Amazon Locker lockers in several cities to collect small objects. The site also offers delivery to shops acting as a package relay. In short, you have a wide choice of actions to retrieve your purchases at a time that suits you.


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