In Australia, Online Shopping is a Craze.

Australians and the rest of the world are connecting in record numbers, as recent surveys revealed:

• In November, the average Australian spent $471 online (Nielson/Net Rating).
• The number of Australian shoppers who use the Internet has increased exponentially in the last year, nearly doubling to 2.3 million (news.com.au)
• 68 percent of Australians have access to the Internet at home (Nielson/Net Rating).
• Australians now spend 31 hours per month online, up from 10 hours in 2003 (Nielson/Net Rating).

Consumer preferences are changing globally; online purchases are rapidly becoming the norm as potential customers become more computer savvy. Here are a few additional resounding global statistics.

• 400 million passengers worldwide now book flights online (The Age) • The French spend nearly 50 hours per month online (Nielson/Net Rating) • Online consumers spent a whopping $22.3 billion in America in 2005 (Nielson/Net Rating)

We know from these figures that consumer loyalty is shifting when it comes to purchasing goods. Consumer confidence is at an all-time high, and we at the deal want to assist you with your online shopping.

We’ve compiled a quick online shopping checklist that we hope will assist you in making an informed decision about which products to purchase and where to purchase them.

Checklist for online shopping

1. Identifying information

—are you certain you’re dealing with the right person?
Is there contact information on the website, such as the business’s physical address, phone and fax numbers, and, in the case of Australian businesses, an Australian Business Number (ABN)? This is critical in the event that something goes wrong, such as your package not arriving or your credit card being charged incorrectly.

2. Product description

—do you understand what you’re purchasing?
Ascertain that the goods or services you are purchasing are accurately described and meet your requirements. This should be confirmed with the business (e.g. by email or phone).

3. Price and currency

—are you aware of the amount you’re paying?
It is critical that you understand the final cost, even more so if the business will charge your credit card. Ascertain that delivery and handling costs have been included and that no ongoing fees have been added.

Determine if any taxes or import duties are applicable.

Additionally, you should specify the currency—even an Australian business may list prices in US dollars.

4. Confirm the order

—are you certain that your order is accurate?
Once you’ve determined the final price, it’s a good idea to obtain confirmation of your order before agreeing to pay.

5. Applicable law

—are you aware of the applicable laws in the country to which the transaction will be conducted?
This is especially critical if you are conducting business with a website that is located in another country.

6. Privacy

—are you aware of the manner in which any personal information you submit will be handled?
Numerous websites have privacy policies outlining how they will handle user information. It is critical that you read these policies carefully because your email address may be added to mailing lists that receive unsolicited email from online marketers. Numerous countries, including Australia, now have privacy laws.

7. Payment mechanism

—are you aware of the website’s online security measures for processing your payment?
You must satisfy yourself that any online credit card payment is secure. Numerous online payment systems make use of the secure sockets layer (SSL) (SSL). Before you begin entering your credit card information, the site should inform you that you are entering a secure online environment. Typically, an unbroken key or lock appears at the bottom of your browser window to indicate that you are transmitting data securely, or the web address begins with https//:

8. Print details

—do you have printed copies of your agreement’s terms?
Ensure that you print out any completed forms and retain copies of any email correspondence. It’s a good idea to print pages from the website as documentation of the offer you accepted. This is critical if the business denies making you any promises. Bear in mind that websites undergo frequent changes and may even disappear entirely. You want to be able to establish the terms of your business contract.

9. Delivery

—do you know how long the product will take to arrive and who to contact if it does not?
You should specify an anticipated delivery date so that you know when to begin pursuing it if it does not arrive.

10. Terms and conditions

—are you familiar with all of them?
These will detail how the business interacts with its customers. They should be carefully read in case there are details you were unaware of, such as what happens if the selected product becomes unavailable.

11. Returns and warranties

—are you familiar with the return, exchange, refund, and warranty policies of the business?
If you are unable to locate any policies on the business’s website, contact them via email or telephone and request an explanation of their policies.

Businesses in Australia are governed by the Trade Practices Act and/or legislation governing fair trading. This means that businesses are required to replace a product or refund your money if it is not of merchantable quality or fit for the purpose specified by the customer. Additionally, the goods must conform to any description provided by the trader (this could include matching a photograph of the goods).

Services should be rendered with reasonable care and skill and be reasonably fit to accomplish the specified purpose.

Bear in mind that goods purchased at auction are not subject to statutory warranty rights other than those relating to clear title, quiet possession, and outright ownership.

12. Complaints and dispute resolution

—Will you have access to a formal complaints procedure or to any external dispute resolution mechanisms?
Are you confident that if you are dissatisfied with any aspect of your purchase, the business will make a reasonable effort to resolve your complaint in a fair and open manner? Many businesses have policies in place for internal complaint handling and external dispute resolution in the event that they are unable to address your complaint directly—worth it’s checking this out before you make your purchase.

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