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Online and Home Shopping

Late delivery, shipment of wrong or damaged items, and hidden costs are common home shopping complaints. To avoid problems and resolve them more easily, follow the advice in the "Before You Buy" checklist In addition:

  • Be wary of post office boxes and sellers in other countries. It may be difficult to find the seller to resolve a problem later.
  • Know the total price. Make sure it includes all charges, shipping, handling, insurance and taxes. Coupons and other discounts should be properly deducted.
  • Make sure you are clear on what you are buying. Watch for words like "refurbished," "reconditioned," "close-out," or "discontinued."
  • The security code on the back of your card offers you extra protections on online purchases.
  • Keep a record of your purchase. Save any information the seller gives you such as product description, delivery date, cancellation policy, privacy policy, warranties, and order confirmation numbers.
  • Keep track of your order. If it's late, you have the right to cancel and demand a refund.

Online Shopping Checklist

Use these tips to get the most out of your online shopping:

  • Find out if the retailer offers free shipping if your purchase is sent to their nearby store, instead of your home.
  • Plan your purchases so that you can use standard (cheapest) shipping and still receive your purchase on time.
  • Determine if your purchase qualifies for discounted or free shipping if your purchase total meets a certain amount.
  • Use a price predictor website to help you determine if an item’s price is expected to go up or down.
  • Compare current prices of same the product across several websites.

The Federal Trade Commission offers more online shopping tips.

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Dynamic Pricing

Have you ever viewed a product while shopping online, and noticed that the price had changed from when you looked at it yesterday? You have experienced dynamic pricing, when a retailer changes an item’s price multiple times over a few days, or even within hours.

Dynamic pricing practices are common with online retailers, airlines and tickets for professional sporting events. Retailers adjust prices based on their inventory, your shopping history on their site, and your online browsing behavior. Sports teams may adjust ticket prices based on how well the team is performing, ticket inventory and even the day of the week. Make dynamic pricing work to your advantage by:

  • Using price tracker websites to compare the prices at different retailers.
  • Using price predictor websites to track if the price is expected to go up or down.
  • Clearing your Internet cookies so online retailers cannot use your browsing history to adjust prices.

Online and Group Coupons

In addition to the traditional coupons found in newspapers, coupons can also be found online. Online coupons come in a variety of forms; they can be found on manufacturers’ websites and on dedicated coupon websites. Coupons are also available on social media websites for becoming a fan of a product, or for sharing your email address with the company.
Group coupons are another online saving tool. Here’s how they work: local companies offer reduced prices for things like spa services, gourmet meals, and outdoor adventures through a third party company. If interested, you pay the third party company to take advantage of the deal. Group coupons allow you to try new experiences, by reducing the trial cost. Before you purchase a group coupon, ask yourself “Am I really going to use this?” If the answer is “no”, don’t buy it. Read the terms and conditions of all coupons for expiration dates or use limitations.

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Buying Tickets Online

When buying tickets online, be mindful of convenience or venue fees that can raise the price. Also, be mindful of the fine print. Some tickets are tied to your credit card, restricting your ability to donate, give them as gifts or resell them if you cannot attend because the same credit card must be shown at the event venue to enter.