Life Begins At » Online shopping tips
Finance Tech Talk

Online shopping tips

online shopping tips

‘Tis the season to be merry and with the count down on to Christmas, online shopping is not only convenient, but the online pre-Christmas sales could see you filling the stockings for less.  According to consumer advice website, CHOICE, it is estimated 87 per cent of Australian consumers will shop online in the lead-up to Christmas.

“It’s really easy to get caught up in the hype around these huge online sales, but the last thing you want to do is overspend right before Christmas,” says CHOICE head of media Tom Godfrey. “While it can be very tempting to splurge during a sale, we’d urge consumers to do their homework before parting with their hard earned cash.”

Here are our top tips for making sure you’re a savvy shopper and don’t end up with a dud buy.

Find out about your rights to a refund or return when shopping online on international sites.

1. Research

Be strategic about what you want to buy. If it’s an item you need, make sure you’ve researched it first so you know which one will give you the best bang for your buck. Don’t be tempted by unknown brands.

2. The price is right

Before you become click happy and part with your cash, make sure you’re getting a good deal.  A “sale” price isn’t always the “best” price. Some shops may offer a sale price on an item for a limited time. Others may discount the price on the same item everyday. Having an item’s manufacturer, model number, and other identifying information can help you get the best price for the item you want. Check shopping comparison sites to compare the price of the product at different websites. Just google!

3. Hidden fees

You’ve managed to snare your item, it’s in your virtual shopping basket, you’re at the checkout and boom! You’re hit with the shipping costs. Remember, shipping costs and other “add ons” may not be included in these prices. Look for online coupon codes. Search the store’s name with terms like “coupons,” “discounts,” or “free shipping.”

It may sound like a no-brainer but make sure the cost of the shipping doesn’t mean the cost of your item is no longer competitive. Foreign transaction fees are another thing to watch out for when shopping online, always check the price quoted is in AUD or at least know what the going currency exchange rate is.

4. Compatibility

Don’t get caught out! Lots of electronic devices and products such as smart phones are locked for overseas use only and you’re unlikely to get a refund. Look for “live chats” or go to the companies facebook page to ask questions prior to click buy.

5. Product safety

Be aware that if you’re importing goods for personal use because the deal is just too great, you may not have something that meets Australian Safety Standards. This is particularly prevalent with strollers, cots and other goods for babies. While they’re likely to be fully functional they won’t necessarily adhere to or be up to Australian standards.

6. Online safety

Ensure that the website address is secure and has a valid encryption certificate. It will usually display a “locked, green” indicator in front of the website name. If it doesn’t have that, it does not have a higher level of security that has been guaranteed by a known entity like Verisign, Symantec and others.

7. Your rights

In Australia, whether you buy something in a bricks and mortar store or an Australian online store, you have the same rights and are protected under Australian Consumer Law (ACL). However, the ACCC says that when you shop on international sites it may be difficult to enforce the consumer protection laws of other countries on your behalf.

Make sure you understand the returns policy of the overseas company you’re using. If it isn’t prominently mentioned on their website (usually in the footer – at the very bottom of the page) exercise caution!

If things do go wrong you can file a complaint with if necessary, which is the global site that lets consumers file cross-border complaints with the aim of resolving the complaints without formal legal action.


Happy shopping!

About the author

Alana Lowes

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment