With Black Friday rolling around again soon, and Christmas not far behind it, many consumers are starting to think about which tech goodies they want to buy for themselves or others.
It’s easy to get swept up in sales and the spirit of Christmas, but do be aware that you need to take steps to protect yourself when buying electronic products online. Here’s what you need to know to ensure you end up with a great deal and not a purchase you regret.
It’s a good idea to get clear about what types of electronics you want to buy, and why and how you’ll use them, today and in the future. Knowing what’s required in your home and the specific features you’re after will reduce the likelihood that you get carried away with deals you see online.
It’s human nature to want to snap up bargains, especially when they’re only available for a limited time. (That whole “FOMO” concept kicks into gear.) Many people get swept up in emotion and buy products they don’t need, or that won’t actually do what they want them to, just because a product offering seemed a good deal. Avoid putting yourself in this situation by making a list of your requirements before you start browsing online. It helps, too, to set yourself a budget to follow.
Research is essential. Before Black Friday, Christmas, and other exciting sale periods begin, check out the brands that sell the types of products you hope to buy, and compare options closely to see what each has to offer. Investigate the reputations of the different manufacturers and their devices via avenues such as forums, social media sites, blog and magazine reviews, customer testimonials, etc. Get an idea of the regular price of goods, too.
Looking into the available information before you go shopping makes it much easier to make an informed decision when the time comes. You’ll know exactly which items are on your wishlist and whether or not an advertised sale price is truly an excellent deal or not.
Unfortunately, a big part of buying safely online these days involves protecting ourselves from cybercriminals. It’s critical to do what you can to avoid scams and hacks. When buying electronics, you have to be particularly careful, as many people try to sell rip-off merchandise online to make a quick buck. Others set up shop only briefly to obtain payments from consumers, then disappear without sending any goods.
To reduce the risks of being taken advantage of, research sites before giving out any financial or personal information. Try to read unbiased reviews about shops and products via social media sites, Google ratings, tech blogs, and the like so you can find stores with good reputations. Avoid clicking on links to get to eCommerce sites, especially those listed on social media pages, as you might get sent to a fraudulent shop or one that’s replicated to look like a real, well-known online store.
You can also stay safer by taking precautions when it comes to payments. Only ever buy on computers that have adequate smart home network security software installed on them, and utilize the firewall that likely comes preinstalled on your device. Use secured Wi-Fi, too, at all times. Plus, don’t input credit card or other sensitive details if there isn’t a locked symbol in the website address bar or if the URL doesn’t start with https.
You can also help yourself buy electronics safely by reading the fine print on product listings before you make a purchase. Be clear about what is and isn’t included with every product or package, such as particular features, accessories, warranty, original packaging, and so on.
Keep a close eye on model numbers, too, as many products can seem similar, but when you examine information closely, you might realize the seemingly cheap option is, in fact, an older style that doesn’t come with the upgrades you desire.
Don’t complete a transaction until you’ve read the shipping information, either. Make sure you know if the cost of posting the electronics is included or extra. You also want to understand the returns policy and any relevant insurance that covers products while in transit.
Buying online brings many advantages, including the opportunity to gain access to more stores than you could get to in your local area, and many great deals. You must complete your due diligence, though, to ensure you receive all the benefits and don’t end up regretting your purchase.