Between balancing school and work schedules while trying to manage a little social time, the phrase “free time” doesn’t really apply to students. So, when it comes to online shopping we want to get the best deal and we want it fast. For this reason, we often turn to our smartphones, iPads, or laptops to shop online, and to get the best deal, we follow all of our favorite brands on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. It seems brands are posting a new promotion or advertising an amazing deal almost daily, but how do we know if the deal is real?
Before clicking on any link advertising an amazing deal, follow my checklist below to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck when you shop online.
Avoid Fine Print Headaches
Browser pop-ups claiming savings of up to 50 percent or extreme price cuts are often hiding details in the fine print. Thoroughly read the ad and the fine print to make sure you understand the conditions of the deal. Use BBB’s Code of Advertising if you need help understanding the ad or suspect the ad is misleading.
Check if it’s Members Only
Members-only deals might sound appealing when it comes to saving a few bucks but signing up for member benefits may be a bad move. Before agreeing to the terms, be sure the site is not charging hidden fees for membership. Sites such as HauteLook and GILT are some of my favorite members-only shopping programs because you can shop on the go with their smartphone apps and enjoy great prices on quality merchandise.
Make Sure it’s Authentic
When shopping online it can be difficult to determine if merchandise is truly authentic. According to ebay.com, authentic items are often listed with clear images and a detailed description. Before purchasing, consider the seller’s location and legitimacy – do you trust the vendor? Remember, think logically when buying designer discount goods and don’t fall for prices that are too good to be true.
- Avoid purchasing from a listing that describes merchandise as “refurbished” or “reconditioned.” If the product has been altered from its original condition it is not 100 percent authentic.
- Does the current price of the item lineup with identical merchandise sold by other retailers? If not, chances are the deal isn’t real.
Say No to Spam
- Use a different email address when signing up for promotions on a website – this way, you can keep your deals in one place and your permanent inbox clutter-free.
Stay Away From Risky Business
Online style hunters should look for warning signs of an untrustworthy business. Tips-offs include lack of contact information, poor website design, suspicious URL’s and no return or refund policies.
- Conduct an online search of the company in question, exposing any misleading information before it’s too late. Customer reviews can also provide helpful insight when making purchases online from unfamiliar companies advertising juicy deals. Visit www.bbb.org to view company information and read customer reviews.
- Visit WHOis, a record listing that houses domain ownership contact information that can be used to establish a company’s credibility.
From an intern’s point of view… I always love scoring an amazing deal, but I have to remind myself to be responsible when I shop online. Happy deal hunting, shop smart, and before buying, remember to ask yourself, “how real is the deal?”
Share your online deal hunting experiences in the comment section below.