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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Southeast Louisiana including the Tri-Parish Area
Pause Before you Purchase Online
August 15, 2014

BBB works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. The primary responsibility for truthful and accurate advertising rests with the creators of advertising, whether it appears in the online or offline marketplace.

Shopping on the internet is the thing so do these days but the fine print in online advertisements really catch your eye. Brands use large type in advertisements to tug at your attention. However, the tiny type usually contains the most pertinent information about a deal and can often be a "deal-breaker."

BBB receives numerous call concerning great deals purchased online but unfortunately they often forgot to read the conditions and clicked "accepted" too quickly. The fine print or "mouseprint" can disclose vital information about time limits and eligibility for that bargain that originally caught your eye.

Another ploy unsavory advertisers use is to offer a members-only shopping program to save money. Some are good deals but beware of programs that have hidden membership fees.

Also, sales can last a very short time and the stock can be limited, so sometimes purchases need to be made quickly. That impulse to buy can be rewarded, but other times it can lead to regret.

Be aware of return policies and credit issued instead of refunds and some may even have a no-return policy. Online shoppers also need to be wary of fake merchandise. When buying a brand name from a website that isn't from the original manufacturer or a trusted retailer, there is a possibility of counterfeit merchandise.

Here are some tips from the BBB to avoid the disappointment of purchasing counterfeit merchandise online:

  • Be sure the business is reputable. When in doubt, go to the manufacturer's website and look for a list of authorized dealers for that brand.
  • Check out the business with the BBB at bbb.org.
  • Deals that sound too good to be true usually are.
  • Look for clues in the wording of the ad. Overuse of words like "genuine," "real" or "authentic" should be viewed suspiciously.
  • See if the label or the ad contains misspelled words. A badly attached label is a tip-off.
  • Shoddy construction is an indicator of counterfeiting. If you are able to view close-ups online, watch for uneven seams and other stitching issues.
  • Avoid items that are listed as "refurbished" or "reconditioned." An exception to this rule could be electronic items purchased from the original manufacturer at a reduced cost with such discloses made by the website.

As with any online transaction, pay with a credit card when possible to have your purchase covered by the card's policies in the event of a dispute.

Better Business Bureau suggests you should also set up a separate email account for online purchases, to keep your main email uncluttered by spam and to help you sort out transactions.

Be a wise consumer, do your homework and investigation before you make a purchase at a "bricks and mortar" store or online.

Find out more about scams and sign up for scam alerts at BBB Scam Stopper (bbb.org/scam). BBB works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.

Start with Trust®. Check with the Better Business Bureau before doing business. BBB works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.