A Step by Step Guide to Buying Online

A few days ago I spoke to someone who had bought something online which I believe to be utterly useless. What’s worse is he could not give it back and get his money back.

A lot of internet newbies get suckered into these make money online schemes and end up buying also sorts of stuff that is actually just garbage.  There are a lot of scams out there purposely sold by dubious individuals, so here are some tips that can protect you before you buy anything. These same steps can also be used when you plan to buy physical products over the internet and not just digital products like ebooks, software, or services. Online business owners also get an idea about the right way to sell online.

Step 1 – Do the Research

When you find something you are interested in buying, don’t just believe everything that is told you on the sales page. A sales page is a page designed to promote a product and get you to buy it. On the internet, sales pages for a product are what a sales rep or sales person is in real life.. it basically tries to answer all your questions about the product and get you to buy it.

What you can do is go to Google and do a search for the product’s brand name, followed by other searches of the brand together with keyword modifiers like “review”, “rating”, “scam”. That way you are able to find out if people online are talking good or bad things about a product. Also do a search for the name of the seller of the product, and use the same keyword modifiers in order to learn more about the seller’s reputation.

Sometimes, sellers put reviews or testimonials about themselves or their product on their own websites to act as social proof to allay any of your apprehensions about buying from them, but they are of course on their website so, it would be best to get information from other places.

One last thing when you verify what other people are saying about the product. There are sellers who might be writing those reviews about themselves.. so verify who the authors of those reviews or comments are. If there is a name, verify the name by searching on Google to see if that person exists or is a real person at all. Check to see if that person has other posts about other topics, has other blogs and maybe has Facebook and Twitter. That way you know that person is real. Some sellers write reviews about themselves and then use fake names, you need to find out if the name is of a real person or fake by the doing the method of verifying suggested earlier.

Step 2 – Check the Website

There are some important things you need to do when you are on a website selling a product you are thinking of buying.

First, find the following pages.. About Us, Terms of Use or Privacy Policy. What is important is, you are able to establish that the owner of the website is indeed a legitimate business with a legitimate address and phone number. There might be sites that do not have a phone or address but have an contact form, try using the contact form and send them a message just to inquire and see what their response time is like. If they are prompt in replies and are happy to address your inquiries, this might be a good seller to buy from. If you do find a number, try calling it and make an inquiry about the product you wish to buy.

The point I want to make is, the more transparent a website is about who they are or their business, the safer for you.

A lot of websites allow you to make transactions online. Before whipping out your credit card to make a payment try to check if the site is secure. One way of checking is, when you start the payment process by going to a payment page, check the URL in the browser window and see if it says https:// at the start. A normal website URL starts only with http://.  If they have some information about the type of payment system they use, the better. I have seen sites that actually inform their visitors about their payment system at start of the payment process.

Step 3 – Check for a Return Policy or a Money Back Guarantee

Almost always there is a Return Policy in place or a Money Back Guarantee. There are of course exceptions such as perishable items or food and beverages which obviously when used slightly cannot be returned. I believe music and DVDs also work the same. But for everything else, an iron clad Money Back Guarantee ensures that if for whatever reason you are unhappy with the product, you can return in it.

A seller offering this guarantee knows that they are confident in what they are selling and are then less likely to be scamming you with an inferior product.

Find out how long until the guarantee expires and how their system works for returns. Some sellers will specify on their website how you may return items, but if they simply say they offer that guarantee but do not get into details, contact them and ask them about it.  Do also some checking on Google and type in the product name plus words like “refund”, “return policy”, “refund problem”, etc. This way you want to know if people online have been writing about refund problems they have had with the seller.

Believe me, there are sellers out there who offer you a money back guarantee, but when you ask for it, they will give you some sort of reason to delay giving your money back or make it sound like it’s your fault and that you are NOT using the product properly which is why it is not working well for you and that you should try using it the right way first.

Remember that there are a lot of products and sellers out there. If upon evaluating a potential product and seller, they fall short of any of the criteria above; do not worry. There are a lot of sellers out there. Find one that meets the standards, and makes you feel at ease knowing that your purchase is secure and that the product you are buying lives up to what it promises.


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