8/21/2012

Online Deals

Online shopping is quite the hype: imagine that with a single click, you can purchase anything from household items, to clothing, to food and electronic gadgets. Once I started checking out Groupon, I became familiar with sites like Dealmates, ilovediscounts, Paypal and many more.  I've gotten many deals off these sites: eating, drinking, activities...sometimes they're incredibly fun but sometimes they can be a total rip-off! 

How does it work?
Online shopping = money + internet
You'ma need a PC with the internet connection. Once you've selected the item for purchase (usually online businesses like to use the concept of "add to cart"), you're require to select a method of payment. You can either use:
- credit card
- immediate debit from your bank account
- intermediate parties eg. Paypal

Once the transaction is done, you'll check-out: you should receive a notification as well as the purchased item. Sounds simple? But...

What can go wrong? 
Online shopping involves revealing private information as well as access to your monetary funds. If you're not careful, you may expose your finances to hackers and there's a lot to lose!    You need to take better precaution to ensure your information is hack-proof: use a complicated password and never, EVER reveal your bank account/personal information to anyone! 
Bear in mind that it's important to take the initiative to know more about the product/service provided as well as the background of the business. Take the example of buying a dress online. From the photos, hey it looks really awesome! But when the dress arrives, it may not look as good as it did online: under different lighting, the shade of the dress or the cutting may look flattering. 

Similarly for buying online deals, spend some time to read up reviews on the deals provided. I've experienced a terribly organized buffet dinner with a limited spread when the deal supposedly promised a wide variety of dishes to feast on! So you can imagine how hungry a group of 16 adults can be when we've to wait 30 min for the food to arrive because the organizers didn't EXPECT such a huge turnout. 
Another problem with online shopping is that the whole idea of easy, stress-free shopping can encourage unnecessary purchase! Didn't think you need that massage? Well why not go for it when it's 30% cheaper? It's easy to be lured into virtually swiping your credit card at seemingly affordable and reasonable "good deals". As it is with real-life shopping, always evaluate if you need to buy that item:
- remember the difference between need and want
- make a conscientious effort to review and survey to ensure you get a good bargain

What's the deal?
I'd say online shopping is in: previously it may be difficult for me to buy that particular songbook but now I can have it delivered at my doorstep with little difficulty and at an affordable price. I'd say it definitely opens many doors and increases the variety of goods/services you can afford. I'm now more inclined to try different experiences offered at a discounted price; in Sept I'll be going on a 4WD adventure that includes hiking and river crossing. Online shopping can trim away a lot of the hassle that goes with offline shopping but it has its fair share of hazards so always be a wary shopper online and offline :)

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