Hidden danger of internet shopping

Posted by Peter Kent in Personal Finance on 28 May 2012 - Peter is a co-founder of checkmyfile

The sale of products over the Internet has increased dramatically over the last few years, driven by the convenience of shopping from home, lower prices and strong internet branding.

Unfortunately, many consumers don’t think beyond price until they have a problem.

Traditionally, faulty products could be taken back to the retail store where the purchase was made, but what do you do if the purchase was made on line and there is no retail store?

Many companies make product return very easy. For example, Amazon will organise for the faulty product to be picked up from your premises at no cost and will return it by the same mechanism once fixed. Unfortunately, others require the product to be sent back to them at your cost, which for heavy or bulky items can be very expensive, especially for recorded delivery.

As new companies open up In Europe and beyond to serve the UK web market, the position becomes even more difficult. Some companies will insist that the faulty product be posted back to them in their country. For example, if you wish to return a faulty piece of electronic equipment to Pixmania, you will need to sign a declaration that you are prepared to send it to France at your own expense and at your own risk.

So, when you see a product £10 cheaper on the web its worth considering what the company’s policy is on returns. Is it really worth saving £10 if you know that you will have to return the product to Europe, at your own expense, if it becomes faulty? Suddenly, the prospect of nipping down to your local retail store becomes a very attractive alternative.

Peter Kent is a co-founder of Checkmyfile and has a degree in Mathematics from the University of London.

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