Beginnerīs Tips

Read these 14 Beginnerīs Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Online Shopping tips and hundreds of other topics.

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Use Caution When Purchasing Gift Certificates

Please use caution when purchasing gift certificates.

There are many online retailers that also have brick and mortar (B&M) stores. Buying gift certificates online might be a great convenience, just make sure to read the fine print when purchasing them.

Many online retailers, although they share the same name as their "sister" company, will not accept a gift certificate from one another. One example is if you try to buy a gift certificate at ToyRUs.com. That certificate cannot be used anywhere but online at ToysRUs.com. Likewise, if you buy your Geoffrey money at a B&M ToysRUs store, you cannot use that to pay online. Don't assume you can use your certificate anywhere. If in doubt, e-mail the company's customer service department.

   
Which online merchants can I trust?

Buy What You Know

Buy brands you already know and trust; buy them from stores you already know and trust. Those stores usually have splendid customer service departments. Use them.

   
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Return Policies

When purchasing online, please make sure you know what the retailer's return policy is. Look for an area titled FAQ, Returns, or Customer Service and read the fine print. If you cannot find anything on the subject, you should e-mail customer service. It's better to find out ahead of time, rather than purchase and run into problems later.

   
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10 Questions Every Shopper Should Ask Before Buying

Before you hit the send button for that holiday purchase, there are 10 questions you should ask of your online store:

1) What's the privacy policy?
2) Will my name end up on an e-mail marketing list?
3) Do the seals for privacy and security mean anything?
4) Is there a phone number for your customer service department?
5) Do you charge sales tax?
6) What will be my shipping charges?
7) How will I know if my order has been shipped?
8) What happens if my item is out of stock after I've ordered?
9) What should I do if I find my item cheaper elsewhere?
10) How do you handle returns?

   
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Calculating Shipping Charges

There are various means of calculating shipping charges over the Internet. Some stores charge by weight, by purchase total, 1 flat rate, or offer free shipping entirely.

While free shipping is extremely desirable, if you have to pay for shipping keep these tips in mind:

If you are buying many items, look for a retailer that gives a flat rate. An example would be Lucy.com charging a flat shipping rate of $4.99 no matter the number of items.

If you are buying a number of small dollar yet heavy items, look for a retailer that offers flat rate or calculates shipping by dollar amount. An example would be buying $50 worth of groceries at netgrocer.com and paying $5.99 shipping because the purchase was $50 or under.

If you are buying an expensive item, look for a retailer that offers a flat rate charge or free shipping with a minimum purchase requirement

   
What should I know about buying specialty items online?

Specialty Foods

The Internet has become a fantastic resource for those looking for gourmet or specialty foods and gifts. Instead of coming up with an idea then calling around the country, you can use a search engine to come up with many choices to select from.

Check out my favorite specialty store reviews.

   
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Apparel

For successful results when purchasing apparel over the Internet, make sure you have recent body measurements. Also always compare your measurements to the size chart that's normally provided on each website. If none is listed, contact the website's customer service department for sizing advice. If you can't get sizing information but still wish to purchase, make sure the store has a lenient, consumer friendly returns policy.

   
What should I know before buying from an online grocery store?

Groceries

Online grocery stores can be a great convenience to those that are homebound, have busy schedules, or just dislike grocery shopping in general.

Although there are quite a few grocery stores online, they are not all the same. Here are some things to keep in mind:

*Not all online stores offer a full grocery selection of staples, fresh produce, and meat.
*Some of these stores offer a large variety of items, others have limited offerings.
*Some of these stores deliver nationwide, while others have limited local delivery areas.
*Only a few accept manufacturers coupons, most of the others do not.
*Delivery charges vary widely.
*Look for online coupons for these stores-it will save you some money.

See my list of tips for many of the online grocery stores operating today.

   
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Protect Your Passwords

Never under any circumstances give your password information to anyone. If you have given it out by mistake, make sure you change it quickly.

   
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Always Check The Shipping Charges

Always make sure you check what a website charges for shipping prior to finalizing your purchase. Shipping charges vary widely among online stores and can make that great deal not so great after all.

   
What should I know about buying from an online drugstore?

Drugstore Items

Online drugstores can be a great convenience to those that are homebound, have busy schedules, or just dislike shopping in general.

Although there are quite a few drugstores online, they are not all the same. Here are some things to keep in mind:

*Not all online stores offer a full selection of prescription items.
*Some of these stores offer a large variety of items (i.e. multiple brands of the same type products), others have limited offerings.
*Some of these stores deliver nationwide, while others have limited local delivery areas.
*Not all insurance plans are accepted.
*Some stores have a full range of vitamins and health/beauty aids as well as pharmaceuticals, while others don't.
*Delivery charges vary widely.
*Look for online coupons for these stores-it will save you some money.

   
What store should I buy from on the internet?

Beginning To Shop Online

When you first begin to shop online it's exciting and scary all at the same time.

Try to start your shopping with well-known online retailers. Also ask your friends/family about their online experiences and for their recommendations. This may give you the added confidence you need for your first purchases.

   
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Be Cautious Giving Out Personal Information

Please use caution when releasing personal information. Keep in mind the type of company you are dealing with and use common sense to determine relevant information to provide.

If you are registering with a retail store you should expect to provide your correct name, address, phone number, a username, password, date of birth, and e-mail address. You might be asked for buying preferences but that is optional normally.

If you are completing a purchase then you should expect to provide payment information.

A store should not request your Social Security information. That's not necessary and signals a red flag if they do.

The only time you really should be providing your Social Security information is for applications for credit, banking, jobs, retirement benefits, brokers, etc.

   
Where do I find an inexpensive prom dress?

Shopping Online For the Prom

To have the perfect prom attire, you need the whole look – snazzy dress, fabulous shoes, and picture perfect hairstyle. By the time you add up your entire ensemble, the costs can be pretty high. Fortunately, shopping online for the prom can help you realize some savings. Here are some suggestions to help you save:

• Go to a major bidding site like Ebay at www.ebay.com. You'll find designer dresses from brand new to gently worn that people are ready to sell at a major discount to the winning bidder.

• Shopping online for the prom can become a walk back in time at an online vintage dress shop like Posh Girl Vintage at www.poshgirlvintage.com. Vintage dresses are all the rage with celebrities from Reese Witherspoon to Mischa Barton.

• Go to a online discount retailer like Bluefly at www.bluefly.com. You'll find many reduced price designer dresses in all the latest styles and colors.

• Check the sales and clearance sections of all the major department stores online. If you look at the right time, you can often fine an amazing dress for a bargain.

   
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