Top 5 Dangers Of Online Shopping And Precautions To Take On Cyber Monday and Through the Holiday
Before you, your family, or friends (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) spend another dime online, please take a moment to mull over my “Top Five Dangers” and ways to reduce risk. How many people are really vulnerable? IMRG expects there will be 3.5 billion online shoppers globally by 2013, according to Internet Retailer. It’s safe to say this includes your loved ones.
1. Fake Online Reviews – A collection of five-star ratings can do amazing things for online sellers. As a result, some authors have confessed to posting fake reviews; see “Fake Reviews: Amazon’s Rotten Core”. Others are now offering a refund to customers, in exchange for a write-up; see “For $2 a Star, an Online Retailer Gets 5-Star Product Reviews”. Ways to Reduce Your Risk – Be skeptical of reviews that lack detail, or are too positive. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp may provide a stronger, direct relationship to people’s opinions. Check the source. Does it link to the reviewer’s profile and previous reviews, or a social media page that shows the reviewer is real? Dina Rezvanipour, CEO of 3d Public Relations and Marketing says, “I always recommend my clients focus on customer interactions on their facebook and twitter, it helps reduce their risk of people assuming skeptical comments and build a relationship with their customers.” Finally read reviews on multiple platforms (e.g. Amazon and epinions.com).
2. Lack Of Full Cost Disclosure – Additional fees like shipping, may be hidden until late in the checkout process. For example, I was recently stung by ConsumerReports’ price comparison engine after it suggested that the best place for me to buy a laptop with free delivery was TigerDirect.com, which is owned by Systemax. When I neared the end of the purchase process, the fine print said I’d have to spend $49.99 on a year membership, to get the “free” shipping. What’s worse, I then learned it would cost $189.99 more for Microsoft’s software. This meant the actual cost was 20% greater than I was lead to believe. Ways to Reduce Your Risk – Remember there is “no free lunch”, in other words you’re going to pay for delivery one way or the other. Don’t expect software to come with the computer. Finally, don’t use TigerDirect or ConsumerReports’ comparison engine.
3. Counterfeit Goods – Even Jeff Bezos’ Amazon is having difficulty keeping counterfeits off its site. We know this because a California appellate court recently opined on Amazon’s efforts to police counterfeit goods sold by its third party merchants. The decision was noteworthy because Amazon has been using a lower “Policing” standard than set by the court in Tiffany v. eBay. Ways to Reduce Your Risk – If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Research the third party seller or website you are buying from. Don’t be afraid to ask lots and lots of questions. Finally, trust your gut.
4. Order Never Arrives – Each time I’ve shopped on Amazon.com or Walmart.com, my order has arrived on time. Given the amount of business both companies do, I’m sure everyone won’t be as lucky. For example, I found an Epinions review titled, “Packages get lost in mail or stolen in Walmart.com warehouse”. I believe the likelihood of an order not arriving, increases when third party sellers (e.g. Marketplace Retailers) become involved. Ways to Reduce Your Risk – Size matters. When shopping, stick to Top 500 Internet Retailers.
5. Identity Theft – According to The US Department of Justice, identity theft and fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person’s personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. For example, if someone steals your debit card number, your entire checking account is exposed. Within minutes, identity thieves can drain your account and set you back financially for years. Ways To Reduce Your Risk – Just remember the word “SCAM”. Be (S)tingy about giving out your personal information to others unless you have a reason to trust them, regardless of where you are. (C)heck your financial information regularly, and look for what should be there and what shouldn’t. (A)sk periodically for a copy of your credit report. (M)aintain careful records of your banking and financial accounts.
Holiday Buyers Guide: Tech Gifts
This is just a skim through a few tech products and tips for the holidays this year. The time has come and I have those one or two people on my list that I always have trouble finding something for. Technology is fun, it’s innovative and down right cool. Tech gifts make the best presents and there is something for everyone on your list! Take a look at our Buyer’s Guide to Tech Objects just in time for the Holidays!!
Pinterest is perfect for occasions like these, when you’re prepping for meals, parties, and gifts in the midst of making travel plans and wrapping up end-of-the-year work projects. Pinterest can seem overwhelming to newcomers with its infinite scroll of food and fashion photos, but the social bulletin board has bona fide organizational tools to help you pin your way to a perfect holiday season. Even if you pin regularly, there are a few under-the-radar holiday-planning tips you might not know about.
Never pay full price
Pinterest’s newish price notification feature will help you stalk holiday sales with little to no effort. Create a board with gift ideas for your friends and family, and add product items from major retailers who work with Pinterest, like Target, Nordstrom, and Etsy. The network will send you emails if the prices drop on any of those items. We’ll have to give this feature a Black Friday test to see if it can handle the flood of discounts.
Pinterest tells you when products you’ve pinned get cheaper.
Plan in secret
Remember when your Facebook newsfeed was inundated with posts about your friends’ Pinterest boards? So many weddings were being planned by so many single people. Thankfully, Pinterest fever has faded from Facebook, and the mostly public Pinterest has instituted secret boards for users who want to keep their holiday shopping under wraps. Think of it as Pinterest’s version of a private post.
Deals and steals
It’s no secret that brands love Pinterest, and many of them have created their own boards. This year, companies like Macy’s are putting their Black Friday ads on their official Pinterest pages so superfans can get an early look at holiday deals. This isn’t across the board, but if you’re lucky you can get a sneak peek at your favorite retailer’s sales. Or you can just get in the holiday spirit with brand boards-J.Crew’s December style guide board is a favorite for aspirational ski bunny browsing.
For the gamer:
This year is a tough pick for your gamer, with two highly impressive machines making their debut this year, whichever of the next generation consoles you choose you can’t go wrong. With its Kinect 2.0 able to read your mood, strength and exertion levels, Xbox One ushers in a new era of motion control and adds blu-ray support to an Xbox for the first time. The PS4, on the other hand, adds an all-new touch pad to its controller, boasts improved social and sharing features. Pick one, buy it, they will love it. Better still, get both and your gamer will be over the moon!!
For the kids:
Tablet-based drawing apps tend to be too complex for young kids to grasp and actually have fun. Crayola’s DigiTools simplifies the process with its kid-tested app and approachable physical accessories like a functioning digital paintbrush, an air brush and a paint roller. Kids can learn elements of drawing, color mixing, tracing, stenciling and swirling – all without ruining your carpet.
For the Fitness Buff:
Whether your loved one is looking to shed some pounds or just stay in shape, the Fitbit Force will give him or her all the right info at a glance. Equipped with an OLED display, this device tracks everything from steps taken and calories burned to stairs climbed. Plus, the Force can help you sleep better by measuring the quality of your sleep. A silent-wake alarm will avoid waking others when it’s time to go for that early-morning jog. And although the Force isn’t a smartwatch per se, call-notification support is coming soon.
Philips’ Hue iOS-controlled lighting adds an amazing ambiance to any room. The Starter Packsells for $199, and comes with three LED bulbs and a wireless bridge. You can remotely control the bulbs via the Hue app to set different lighting and color patterns. The latest additions to the family are LivingColors Bloom ($79.95), a stand-alone color-effusing table lamp and LightStrips ($89.95). Plus, there’s a 6.6-foot strip of LED lights that can be controlled remotely and mounted freely anywhere in her home. Both of the new additions require she already has a starter kit first.
Gifts under $50
Audiovox Soundflow ($30)
Just drop a smartphone or any speakerphone or music-playing device on top of this Audiovox SoundFlow SoundBoard, and the voice or music is magically amplified. No wires, no Bluetooth, no NFC, no Wi-Fi, no pairing, no jacks, no fuss, no muss. Unfortunately, this accessory won’t charge a music player. It runs on either two AA batteries or AC. It’s available in three finishes: wood, white or black.
Clear Coat Aurora Iphone Skin ($35)
Why settle on just one color or design to encase an iPhone? The chameleon-like Clear-Coat Aurora is a proprietary polymer film that constantly changes color depending on ambient lighting and ambient colors. Your iPhone will never look the same way in any two places. Since Aurora also turns an iPhone screen golden, the package includes an alternative clear film.