Online Shopping: What to Watch Out?

shopping cartoonWhether they welcome you with bargains or travel options on discounted prices, online stores do not actually make gifts. They hide small traps always to make you spend a few more money.

It is known! Bargains abound on the Internet. Besides, e-commerce continues to display an insolent growth (+ 11% in 2014) with a turnover reaching a record 56.8 billion euros. But the discount and other attractive offers do not exclude vigilance because the largest online sales sites intend to try by all means to burden the note and grab few more bucks from clients. Euphemistically called “services,” these supplements include Premium accounts, the additional warranties, and possibilities of winning vouchers available behind large, colored buttons that are easy to click… Promises are always tempting and quite modest sums requested so why go without? We will see that in some cases these services are not worth and you risk paying for completely unnecessary things.

Supplementary Warranty: belt and suspenders…

Almost all e-shopping sites offer a broader warranty than the manufacturer because it is a way of ensuring their margin. This is materialized by one more line, to select or deselect when ordering. An example is CDiscount, offering twenty-two different types of insurance! By purchasing this insurance, be aware of the service. Aren’t you covered for the same risk with another contract, such as your home insurance or credit card insurance? 

Insurance clauses, read the small print

You have chosen a warranty or additional insurance because you are sure that it may be well necessary. In this situation, take a tour of the exclusion clauses of the warranty insurance, in other words, the conditions for which you will not be refunded. To complicate things, these provisions are often spread among the many pages of the contract and written in small print. You can learn things such as the insurance for a “spot” on the sofa will pay nothing if the stain is caused by the use of stain removers, or if you leave a stain that could have been easily cleaned!

Comfort Packs, XXL warranty, not always useful

Halfway between the service “Premium” and the extension of warranty, some sites offer a hybrid service including extended warranty and a priority hotline for the VIP customers. Ensure that the substantial length of the warranty really suits your needs. No need to insure for technical incidents for hardware that will have been obsolete long before you can take any benefit out of that insurance. Moreover, this kind of package involves only one purchase, and you will not benefit from the Hotline for purchases made later on the site.

Lucky bag: the winner is always the seller

Take the example of the site Cdiscount again. In the long list of optional services offered when buying, there is one that intrigues. Named “Surprise pockets”, it costs about 2 euros more and promises you can win in a draw the amount of your order (within the limit of 400 euros). We need to look at the description to realize that the “surprise” is not as good as it sounds. On one hand, the prize is a voucher for the store and not money. On the other hand, you find that you have one chance in 400 to be repaid in full, 1 in 100 for 25% refund, and 1 in 20 for 5%…

Three times for free but yearly subscription

Laywaying the payment can be quite useful to avoid painful premiums to the bank. Almost all e-commerce websites offer payments spread over three installments at no charge but be careful! Because for some, this possibility is related to a credit card. It turns out that it is far from free: it usually costs 14 euros per month. Also, if you already have one, it will be unnecessary duplication.

Credit Card, the threat of revolving

Saving 20% of the initial order by taking a credit card! How could you resist? For example, by reading the small print that specifies the extent of the commitment… Because these cards are both payment and credit cards. So they open rights to credits “revolving” i.e., no fixed number of monthly payment, but with a very high annual percentage rate (APR) of up to 20%. Taking this type of card does not require you to open such credit, but the risk is significant (at each payment you must choose between credit and current account). Warning: the card (and the 20% discount) may be refused by the bank and you will then have to pay the entire order.

Cashback, ruining to earn money

When ordering, a colorful ad prompts you to convert a small percentage of your purchases (1 or 2%) in a purchase order on the site. Welcome to the wonderful world of cashback where “buying makes you earn money!” What is less wonderful are the conditions. In general, this “service” is offered by third-party providers (and costs about 12 euros per month). So to break even with a discount of 2%, it means to buy on the site for 9000 euros per year!

Followed by SMS texting to high price

When ordering online, tracking the package is essential. This is why many e-commerce sites offer to send you SMSes for each of the important steps during the journey of your package (validation, shipping, and delivery).

Premium service for small packages

Shipping fees represent a barrier to purchases for 55% of customers according to a survey by FIFG, dating back in 2012. Ever since, online stores have therefore taken the initiative to charge… free shipping! It is called the “Premium services”. Taking this annual subscription (which goes from 20 to 40 euros), you get express delivery (1 day) free for all orders. Well, almost all… because the transport of parcels over 20 kg is not free. For the premium subscription to worth the money, you have to buy more than three products a year (TVs, Groceries, Blu-rays, etc.).

Preferred seating, make yourself comfortable

Low-cost airline companies display this service at the time of ticket purchase: to choose your seat, sparkling the illusion of comfort. But beware, what is not said is that it relates only to a handful of “premium” seats. It is the most expensive (around 15 euros). Because bookable seats (around 5 euros) offer exactly the same legroom as non-reserved seats. So if you are alone, no need to pay extra for a conventional seat.

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