by Roby LaPorte
Once again I hear that familiar Christmas song;
He’s making a digital list,
He’s clicking on it twice,
He’s gonna know who’s got an Internet devise.
Santa Claus is shopping – ONLINE!
The holidays are again fast approaching and time, these days, is all too precious a commodity to spend in over crowded malls, waiting in lines trying to find what you’re looking for before it is sold out.
Well, if you’re like me, the anti-shopper, one of the ‘Gift-Buying Challenged’, the solution to this problem is going to my favorite shopping mall of all time, the Internet. The possibilities are enormous and, like any sort of shopping, the earlier the easier.
Even the grocery shopping is simple online. Holidays or anytime, for we San Clementeans, Albertson’s (www.albertsons.com
) offers online shopping that is so user friendly, they even offer several different ways to shop. You can shop by isle, by brand names, food groups or alphabetically. They offer prepared foods as well, so you can get a great Holiday meal delivered right to your door. They have recipes, meal planners and, the features I like, they save your past grocery lists and a list of your favorite items. Albertsons.com even takes your ‘Preferred Card’ online, so you can save money as well as time. You can do your shopping at your convenience and have it delivered right to your kitchen the next morning.
The online holiday shopping season is set for record gains this year. According to the Online Holiday Shopping Preview, online retail sales for the fourth quarter will be $26.2 billion, up 21.9% over last year - with much of the gain coming as shoppers continue to migrate online from offline stores. And why wouldn’t they? So much to choose from, no crowded malls, no lines to wait in and no getting in your car and hassling traffic and parking. And with the price of gasoline these days, it will really help to stay out of the car! If you know what you are looking for, or even if you don’t, there are ideas and merchandise readily available online. Virtually every major, even minor, store in the world has a website set up for you to browse, get ideas, purchase gifts and have them wrapped and sent off to you or directly to the people you are giving them to.
So for me, I will be doing my Christmas shopping online again this year, as the possibilities are endless. It’s not a scary thing to purchase on the web these days, things are quite secure. If you follow the guidelines in the tips below, you can save time, money and frustration doing your shopping this year.
TIPS FOR BUYING ONLINE
The New York State Attorney General’s Office suggests that you protect yourself in the following ways when shopping on the Internet:
#1. Always make sure that a Web site is secure before providing financial information, such as credit-card or bank-account numbers. Secured Web sites use encryption to scramble your information as it is transmitted over the Internet. You can easily identify a secured Web site by looking for Web site addresses preceded by “https.” As opposed to just “http”. Look for a yellow or golden closed lock or an unbroken key on the bottom bar of your browser window.
#2. If you are still uncomfortable with providing your billing information through the Internet, ask the company about alternate methods of ordering, such as the telephone.
#3. Whenever possible, consider paying by credit card, which offers additional protection in case of a dispute. PayPal.com, now an EBay company, offers the highest level of security for online shopping and should be a premier choice for online purchasing. PayPal now has over 72 million users worldwide.
#4. If paying by credit card is not an option, request that the goods be sent C.O.D. (cash on delivery) and make payment by check or money order, which is easier to trace than cash.
#5. Consider checking with the Better Business Bureau closest to the business for a reliability report. Information in the report includes the length of time the company has been in business, the company’s complaint history and whether the business participates in Better Business Bureau programs, such as dispute mediation.
So, no worries, just let your browser do the walking and you’ll have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS this year! b