Top 10 Online Shopping Mistakes and How to Avoid Them!

By November 14, 2011Campaigns, Giveaways

For the last month I have been busy thinking and writing about Savvy Online Shopping, my Fall Must Haves and how to avoid the big online shopping mistakes.  Why?  Well, American Express asked me to participate and I love me some American Express and yes, I have a ton of experience online shopping.  I was super excited to share some tips as the holiday season is upon us and many of us will be doing a lot of shopping right from our homes.  I am also pumped to announce that Nicole Larsen is the big winner of the $250 prize from American Express Membership Rewards!

I had so many great online shopping mistakes and I wanted to share them with you with tips on how to avoid these disasters!  Many of the comments were similar and that is totally expected because when shopping online, it is easy to miss the details or get sucked in by that great deal or just make a mistake.  Without further ado…

Top 10 Online Shopping Mistakes (from the comments)

Mistake 1: I pressed “buy” button three times by accident when I was shopping online. My card was charged three times. it took a few weeks and a few calls to the bank to get my money back.

Shopping Tip 1: Be careful when you click!  Be patient and wait for the confirmation and if you have any doubts, call the company immediately to ensure you ordered what you intended to order!  I prefer companies that send an email confirmation as well.  That way you will know if something went awry with your clicking.

Mistake 2: I bought a Bedazzler. Need I say more?  In my defense, I was going to make some HOT Bedazzled wedding panties for myself….

Shopping Tip 2:  Think before you purchase!  Will you really bedazzle your panties or use that 5 second roaster you saw on TV?  I have to say, this was my favorite mistake by far.  I have a number of impulse buys around the house myself.  It is so easy to buy online so be sure you need and want what you are ordering and that it fits in your budget.  There is even less emotion typing in a credit card number online than there is swiping one in a store for me, so be careful and stay within your limits.

Mistake 3: I ordered an item with my debit card. Somehow my number was stolen and used to buy things overseas.

Shopping Tip 3: Always use a credit card when shopping online.  I use my American Express almost exclusively because of their awesome additional return allowance but the key is not to use a debit card.  That takes cash out of your bank account immediately.  While it might seem better for your budgeting, once cash is out it is very hard to get it back in.  With a credit card, you will be able to dispute a charge and find a solution that does not affect your cash position much easier than with a debit card.

Mistake 4: I thought I was buying 4 bathroom rugs but received 4 toilet seat covers.

Shopping Tip 4: Read, double read and read again.  It is easy to have this happen, particularly when websites show a collection of items and then you must select what you want from a drop down menu.  Always look carefully before you confirm and if you have questions, do not order until you can clarify.

Mistake 5: I once let my university’s bill pay service “remember” my credit card number, and they started charging me without notification, so I had multi-hundred or even multi-thousand dollar hits on my credit card bill that I didn’t remember paying.

Shopping Tip 5: Be careful who gets your credit card number. Ouch!  I do let certain sites remember my credit card information but only when I know what will be charged and when.  In my experience, bill pay services from universities are among the worst.  Once people have your number, it can be used.  Make sure you know when your card can be charged and always regularly review your statements so you can catch things before they become a problem.

Mistake 6: My online shopping mistake was not checking the size of the lamp I purchased. What I though would be a cute table lamp now takes up a 3′ x 3′ area next to my bed. I love it, but it wasn’t what I thought I’d be getting!

Shopping Tip 6: Read carefully and measure.  A picture is worth a thousand words, but when shopping online, read the full description to know what you are buying.  This is especially true for home decor items.  I know I have ordered little sculptures or vases thinking they were a certain size in the picture and receiving something much smaller!  It pays to pay attention!

Mistake 7: I ordered from a site based in the UK without realizing it, so not only did I pay more because the price wasn’t in US dollars, I also had to pay the currency conversion fee.

Shopping Tip 7: Read the total carefully and we careful ordering from overseas.  I actually rarely order outside of the U.S. these days unless it is very clear what the terms of the purchase are.  Checking the confirmation here and the currency is very important.  Shopping overseas is fun but shipping and conversion can be a nightmare.  Be cautious.

Mistake 8: My online horror??? Two Words: FREE TRIAL! When you see these words, RUN!

Shopping Tip 8:  Can I get an AMEN!  When you sign up for those free trials that require a credit card, put that cancellation date in 18 billion calendars or chances are you will forget and be charged for 18 billion months of service.  Yeah, I have been burned by this.  If it is not something you really need and want to try out, avoid the free trials.

Mistake 9: Ordered some things from a “second or third tier” retailer but neglected to read the return policy fine print i.e. a hefty re-stocking fee.

Shopping Tip 9: Buy from a site you know and trust and always read the return policy!  There are many smaller sites that have excellent customer service and stellar online shopping experiences.   Just because a company is small they are not unprofessional.  You will typically still find the best deals on shipping and the easiest return policy from major retailers because they have economies of scale on their side.  Just make sure to check out the reviews and the return policy before you buy from any store and avoid deals from sites you don;t know that look too good to be true.  They probably are.

Mistake 10: Not taking advantage of online shopping.  There were tons of comments on this!  You can find great deals online plus discounts!

Shopping Tip 10:  Search for coupons or discount codes before you make a purchase.  Just today I did this and got 30% off at Gap.  I t can’t hurt to try.  I have been very successful at getting everything from free shipping to 50% off from a simple search.

 I hope these tips helped and let you know that you are not alone if you have made one of these mistakes.  Usually my online shopping experience is wonderful and like I said, I have been an American Express customer for a decade and I love this card.  From the card protection benefits to the fantastic Membership Rewards, it is the best card out there.

Have fun shopping this holiday season!  Stay smart and savvy with your online shopping!

Disclosure: I am being compensated for this post as part of the American Express Savvy Online Shopping Program. The opinions expressed are all my own.

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