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Know Who You’re Ordering From Online

March 22, 2010

Sure ordering online saves time from going to the mall to fight the crowds and you love doing it from the privacy of your own home, you avoid the rush of having to get up early enough to beat the shoppers who are interested in the same deals as you are…and often enough you can find the same or similar styles online and in some cases, at better prices.  At the same time, you want to make sure you know who you’re ordering from, too. 

Ordering online takes a lot of common sense and know how to avoid getting burned in the end with the scare of identity theft still a major concern among consumers.  Should you find an online storefront you’re interested in ordering from, there are a few things you want to check out in getting to know them from a personal point of view: 

(1) Testimonials:  See how many negative reviews from customers there are versus the number of positive reviews.  Ideally, an online resource with more positive reviews than there or negative ones (if any) could be a likely source to order from.  I’d stay away from them if there are complaints about quality of the merchandise and in how it’s received.

(2)  How long they’ve been in operation:  A fairly new site should bear scrutiny only because they’ve not been in business long enough to get a good sense of their merchandise, customer reviews and other customer feedback, return policies, shipping policies and rates, turn around time, ect.  You want your first time ordering with an only storefront to be a good experience not a nightmarish one.

(3)  View their shipping to and billing to address policies and options:  Sometimes, some of us are not always in the position to have someone be at home when we have packages delivered.  And if you work in a company who is understandable to that effect and does not mind your packages coming to your work place, you want the option of choosing your bill to address separate from your ship to address.

For example, I was going to order a pair of shoes from MakeMeChic.com, but what ultimately moved me to cancel the order right away was they did not have the option of allowing me to choose a separate ship to address different from my bill to address.  And there was only one way to contact them via one email address and no toll-free number.

(4) Turnaround time in delivery:  I don’t know about you, but I’m used to having my order turned around within a 1 – 2 week period.  Other online  ordering resources like Victoria’s Secret web site, Metrostyle.com, Macy, Fredericks of Hollywood and JC Penny where you have to pay higher shipping rates for 1-2 day shipping is understandable, but when you’re ordering from places where they say you can receive your order within a one-week period, you want them to live up to that policy, otherwise their credibility would be questionable.  View shipping policies whomever you order from so you know what to expect.

(5) Quality of merchandise and return policies:  If you read more reviews about how items are poorly manufactured/not what was expected, received damaged, shoes were broken or damaged in some way, bad fit — not what you expected, there isn’t really much you can do except to return the merchandise to where you ordered.  Review return policies before you order anything.  It will save you a lot of headaches later on.  Some representatives are understandable to the fact of your dissatisfaction of any item you ordered and in some cases will not leave you on the hook for return shipping charges. 

Who do I order from online?  When I’m in search of something in particular; a dress, pant suit, skirt, shoes, something for my daughter, my boyfriend, my mom or my sister, I spend a great deal of time researching whatever it is I’m looking for.  I start with my trustworthy resources.  If it’s a place I’m ordering from for the first time, I want a good experience.  I have to know that if I return to order something else from that site, I will continue to have a good experience.  I compare prices if I find an item at more than one site and I look at price, shipping and handling and if there are other fees associated and any discounts offered that item and make sure when I receive it, that it will be in excellent condition and look as it was described.

Generally I order online from Amazon.com (surprising isn’t it?), Pierre Silber, Metrostyle.com, Fredericks of Hollywood, Victoria’s Secret, Snaz75.com, GoJane.com, Amiclubwear.com (shoes and boots), Chadwicks.com, Seventy Avenue, Swiss Colony, and Bootycocktails.com.  I have been ordering from these sites for a long time so I’m familiar with all of their ordering processes and I know what to expect.

I would order from MakeMeChic.com but another reason why I cancelled my ordered with them was I later noticed there were two sites — same name, same selection, but somewhat different.  Apparently one site was newer than the other and return address was different; and their contact form was much different.  Too, in reviews I read there were complaints about how merchandise was damaged when received which was more than I wanted to know and raised concerns about the quality of their products.  And if I recall correctly, they charge a restocking fee, I may be incorrect, but there is a restocking fee for some reason of a returned merchandise. 

I’m sure in time their site will improve over time and they’ll allow additional shipping/bill to options, but until they do, I’ll continue to go where I am most familiar with.

All in all, the internet has become our gateway/portal to the outside world in terms of how we live our lives.   Much of our lives are managed through the internet.  It’s where we do our banking and pay most of our bills, we do our shopping of all kinds on the internet; we renew our auto insurance and registration, we even order pizza on the internet, and our experience should not be a hair-raising moment in our lives.

Another thing I want to emphasize on is making sure that wherever you order from online, regardless of what it is,  be sure the site you are ordering from is using SSL protocol (i.e., https://).  

SSL (secure sockets layer) is a communications protocol which is now the global standard for security SSL creates an encrypted link between a web server and a web browser to ensure that all data transmitted remains private and secure.  The Secure Sockets Layer protects data transferred over http using encryption enabled by a server’s SSL Certificate.  

SSL uses a cryptographic system that uses two keys to encrypt data – a public key known to everyone and a private or secret key known only to the recipient of the message.  The public key is used to encrypt information and the private key is used to decipher it. When a Web browser points to a secured domain, a Secure Sockets Layer handshake authenticates the server (Web site) and the client (Web browser). An encryption method is established with a unique session key.

I’m also a bit of a computer nerd, too.  Moving forward…enjoy your free world of ordering online…at the same time be safe.

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