Cindi’s Thoughts – A Cautionary Tale of Online Shopping

Online Shopping

We’re heading into the frantic holiday shopping season, and no matter how intelligent we are, we’re still human and we make mistakes. There, I said it, I made a mistake!

Before you dig out the credit cards and start doing major purchases online, I wanted to share with you something that happened to me last year. Luckily, the outcome was fine but it could have been terrible if circumstances were different.

Last December, on a late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, exhausted, i was getting ready to shut down my laptop for the night when I received an email from a favorite retailer that an item I wanted was on sale at a very good price. Now, as tired as I was, the smart thing to do would have been to turn off my computer, get some sleep and order the item in the morning. However, we know how quickly things sell out during the holidays and I didn’t want to miss such a good opportunity.

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Yes, I could have gone into the store for the item, but I knew I only wanted that one thing and I thought if I quickly ordered online I could go to sleep happy. Then I could avoid the crowds in the store and spend my time doing more exciting things. As it turns out, that was not the case.

The item was just shy of the free shipping minimum, so I stayed up a bit longer to find something else to add to my order. Now, besides being exhausted, my eyes were spinning circles looking at items trying to decide what small thing to purchase to get my free shipping.

I finally placed my order then decided to catch up on Facebook while I waited for my email confirmation to come through. It did. Yikes!

Yikes!

You see, this particular retailer’s site had two quirks that threw me off my game. First off, it listed the billing address, then the shipping address. This is completely opposite most other retail checkouts. Usually, your shipping information comes first, then when you add your payment info, the site will ask for your billing address.

I’d purchased from this site before so all the address and payment information was saved in my account; I’m just saying I didn’t catch that I was looking at my billing address when I hit the submit order button. I thought it was my shipping address.

Then, this site, for some reason, kept the last address I shipped to as my default. Now, I’d ordered many times over the years from this retailer, but only once did I ship to another address and it suddenly decided that should be my default.

I received my order confirmation and was surprised to see that my order was not shipping to me but to a family member across the country, the last address I had shipped to. I immediately logged into my account, but I was not offered the option to make changes or cancel the order. This was all within a matter of about 30 minutes or so from the time I placed the order.

I located the telephone number for web order support and the representative informed me that it clearly states in their online order policies that no changes can be made once an online order had been placed. I was shocked! Zero changes? Yep, zero changes. The minute the order is placed it goes directly into processing. The only way around that is if you ship to the store because you can choose not to pick up your order.

We as consumers are partly to blame here. We want to receive everything within hours from the time we order it. That means that we lose our freedom to make changes or cancel orders as well.

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I went to several online sites that I frequent and each one has a completely different order policy. Several do not allow changes or cancellation once an order has been placed. Others will allow changes until it ships. The rest fall somewhere in between. These policies are in effect year round, not just during the holidays.

My advice to you before you hit the Submit Order button is to review absolutely everything in detail and know the policies for that particular merchant. You don’t want to get stuck in the middle of a bad situation.

I was lucky. My order went to a family member. I told him he could either keep the items or return them and keep the money. It was a small cost, so I just reordered.

However, can you imagine if I had spent a large amount of money and sent the order accidentally to an ex, someone I’m no longer in touch with or even the person I want to gift it to? If it’s the gift recipient, well, not such a big deal, but if it’s someone else, they are under no obligation to return the items to me. What’s to keep them from taking the shipment to the store and getting a refund? After all, I had clearly ordered the items and shipped the order to them. I would be out the money and the items as well.

Happy Shopping!

We’re always so busy and it’s so easy to click, tap or enter to complete a transaction. Before you do, take a deep breath, review everything with a clear head, then order. You’ll be glad you did!

Happy Shopping!

Cindi

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