Think before you click

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 07 Desember 2014 | 23.08

Shoppers should ensure they allow for additional time when purchasing items to be delivered Source: News Corp Australia

Shopping online is meant to be easy or is it? when it comes to checking out online.

ONLINE shopping for Christmas has moved into the mainstream but there are a few spending traps that can catch inexperienced users.

The Australian National Retailers' Association forecasts shoppers will spend about $4.6 billion online in the 30 days to Christmas, about 15 per cent of the total seasonal spend of $32.6 billion.

Three quarters of our online spending will be with Australian-based retailers, ANRA says, and consumers trying to bag a Christmas bargain from overseas may already have missed the boat, as delivery times vary widely and make it touch-and-go as to whether items will get delivered in time.

DELIVERY DRAMAS

Make sure you understand the delivery time frames and costs. It's no fun if a smiling delivery man arrives at your front door loaded with Christmas presents on December 29.

Free delivery is becoming more common, particularly for larger orders or pre-Christmas promotions, but typically the faster you want something, the more money you'll pay.

ANRA chief executive Anna McPhee says retailers have a range of delivery options "including click and collect".

"As it is a busy time of year for postal and courier services, I would urge shoppers to ensure they allow for additional time when purchasing items to be delivered," she says.

RETURNS AND REFUNDS

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says your usual consumer rights around refunds and replacements apply when shopping online with Australian retailers.

But it warns that anyone buying from an overseas-based online retailer "may experience practical difficulties obtaining a remedy from them".

McPhee says 14 per cent of shoppers it has surveyed say they will return gifts, so "shopping with Australian online sites makes returns a whole lot easier".

SPENDING TRAPS

Centre for Social Economics director Ross Honeywill says online spending records will continue to be broken. "The early adopters of technology have been doing this for a decade but now it's becoming a mass culture," he says.

Understand exchange rates when buying from overseas, Honeywill says. "People may see something in America and think it's a pretty good deal, but when they get the bill they get a terrible shock because it's 15 per cent more with the exchange rate the way it is."

Another trap is when consumers accidentally lock themselves into long-term payments. "We just press 'agree' these days without reading the terms and conditions, automatic payments continue to be made, and we forget about it."

Beware of websites that you don't know or trust, and make sure you are dealing with a legitimate business, Honeywill says.

WEIGH UP OPTIONS

Major retailers usually offer the same deals for items bought in-store, online or via a mobile phone. This makes the internet a brilliant research tool to find the best price, and try to get retailers to price-match if you're in the mood for haggling.

Online research will save you money on petrol, parking and perhaps the impulse buying you might make in a shopping centre, but always weigh up the costs and benefits. Paying a $10 delivery fee for a $15 item means you're paying an extra 170 per cent for your purchase.

THINK BEFORE CLICKING

Treat online shopping just like visiting a store and make a list, set a spending limit, and try to avoid overspending on a whim.

Online retailers can offer special discounts for new subscribers, so now is a good time to hunt for bargains.

If buying things from a home-based seller, you can often get a bigger discount if you collect the goods yourself.

Keep copies of all records of auction bids, emails, item descriptions and receipts in case a problem develops.

THIS WEEK ...

News Corporation personal finance expert Anthony Keane gives his tips on lowering your energy bills during summer.

— Use a ceiling fan instead of an airconditioner to save $28-$88 this summer.

— If you use an airconditioner only turn it on when the outside temperature is at least 30 degrees to cut energy and costs.

— If you do use airconditioner use a 5kW two room unit instead of a 12kW whole house system and save $127 — $404.

— Air dry clothes instead of using a dryer and save $16 — $22.

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ANTHONY KEANE

MONEYSAVERHQ


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