Heads up! Here are 7 Handy Tips that Make Online Shopping Safer, Easier, and More Enjoyable for Seniors

November 23, 2021

The holiday shopping season is almost upon us! Did we say almost? Even before the Christmas trees go up, November is filled with bargains. The two most well-known bargain days are Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Around these two days, the retailers lure customers with bargains and discounts normally only dreamt of. It’s cold outside? Not to worry! Bargains can be found online instead of standing in a long, cold line outside the stores. We have some tips for online shopping just for you.

Some older online shoppers may be new at the game and wonder how to shop online. Safe online shopping tips are as important to know as to how to use your smartphone or simple online grocery shopping tips. Why? Because elderly shopping habits have changed. Older shoppers are now online more than ever!

“In the US, 49% of individuals between 52–70 years spend at least 11 hours a week online. 1 in 4 mobile shoppers in the US is above the age of 55 years.” Convertcart

How Do I Recognize Reputable Online Shops?

See if you find a certificate on the store's website. Has it been checked by a seal of approval provider like Trusted Shops? This assures you that certain services such as warranty claims, and customer service are available.

Look at the results of this website on rating portals. Negative experiences lead to online ratings more often than good experiences. Check Trustpilot or Amazon reviews.

Check the company information on their imprint or legal pages. Are they a US company, or are they located in the Far East?  That may raise some red flags if you may need to return an article.

How Do I Pay Safely on the Internet?

You can pay on the Internet in many ways. The safest way is to pay by invoice, but not all merchants offer this option. In addition to credit cards, there are third-party providers like Stripe, Paypal, GPay, or ApplePay to name but a few. Unlike debit cards, purchases made by credit cards are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act.

If you are unsure, NEVER send money before you have received the goods. This is safe for Amazon shopping, but may be unsafe for a company you have not previously used.

Goods are Defective or Damaged. What Should I Do?

If you buy something in a shop you normally only have the right to return it if it’s not working. Some stores will take back items for store credit as long as they haven’t been opened or used. A store’s return and refund policies differ from state to state. 

Amazon Prime has made free returns synonymous with eCommerce for many of us. Most people won’t purchase from an online store that charges return shipping fees.

Under US federal law, shops must accept defective merchandise returns. You also have up to three days to change your minds about a product you purchased that cost at least $25. Also, check your state laws which may also apply to your return.

Returning purchases is never much fun. What should you do to make sure this process goes smoothly? Look for the return policy on items you want to buy before purchasing.

Do you have more questions? The Federal Trade Commission website can also help you! 

“Elderly shopping habits and needs can include many things, such as prescriptions and other medical supplies, groceries, clothing, shoes, and other household items. Luckily, all of these items can be purchased online and delivered right to the door.” Grisworld Home Care

What is Important to Know When Registering as a Customer?

Anyone who has shopped online more often will know it: The part where you must enter your data including the delivery address. For many, it’s an annoying necessity. Others don’t like to reveal their personal data. If you want to order something online and have it delivered, there's sometimes no way around it.

  • See if you can order as a Guest. This is often possible. If you intend to buy more often in a store, a registration makes sense though. The advantage is that you can access invoices and you have an order history to refer to.

  • Use a special “shopping” email address. It’s a good idea to use an email address for online shopping that’s only used for this purpose. All newsletters, advertising mails, and spam will go to this address, and not your one.

  • Choose “Packstation” as the delivery address instead of your home address. However, the fact that you can specify a Packstation as a delivery address does not necessarily mean that the dealer also delivers there. You should check that in advance.

  • Choose your own payment option. You probably already read the previous section about online payment. If you didn’t, scroll up and add that information to the importance of registering as a customer: You can choose your preferred payment option.

What Should I Pay Attention to in Internet Auctions Like eBay?

Bidding on goods from your home computer has been possible for many years thanks to eBay & Co. As a buyer, however, you should keep a few things in mind when bidding on Internet auctions.

  • What is being auctioned? Check the offer. Before any auction, carefully read the auction description for details about used goods, items that are not included, “as is” products, etc. 

  • Who is auctioning? Check the seller. It’s a good idea to look at the seller's rating profile. Make sure they have a good and trusted track record.

  • Contact the seller if you are unsure. Most platforms offer the possibility to contact the seller during an auction or before purchasing something directly.

  • Choose a secure payment method. Find out about the payment methods and choose the most secure form of payment. Most sellers offer different options. For example, in addition to bank transfer and payment by credit card, there is also the option of direct debit, payment on collection, and PayPal.

What Risks are There When Ordering Abroad?

Shopping “sight unseen” is a risk when shopping online. 

  • You can’t touch or try out what you are purchasing. 
  • There is a personal risk when it comes to your data. 
  • Then that feeling of uncertainty – the risk that you may not receive your goods.
  • Finally, there is the financial risk. You may save money ordering online, but what if you can’t get your money back?

Often, purchasing from foreign suppliers is cheaper or products are offered that are not available at home. But if problems arise, then a solution is often more difficult or even impossible. If a foreign company has an American branch, then the same regulations apply as for American companies.

Things get more complicated when you make purchases outside the US or Canada. Enforcing your claims may be difficult depending on the legal agreement with the country concerned. Therefore, double caution is advised for purchase contracts with companies whose registered office is not within the US.

Don't forget: Customs duties may also be incurred when buying products outside the US.

“Shopping online has become a common practice for many people, especially those who want to stay at home. As online shopping grows more popular and the population grows older, seniors shopping online will increase. By being vigilant and thinking clearly to protect your personal information, you can become a smart and experienced online shopper and have safer holiday shopping this season.” MYAFH

Where Can I Find Support and Advice?

Really not sure about the website? Check their company information on Who.is or with your Better Business Bureau. As a last resort, and if your child is not a lawyer but instead a website designer, there are many online legal advice websites such as Findlaw.com

We Know You Want to Get Your Shopping Bag Ready!

So here is a Quick Extra: Cyber Monday Tips for Seniors

This year Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, November 26. Cyber Monday is November 29. Discounts within Cyber Week could start on November 22, and often there are promotions the entire month. Some people even say “Black November” because of all the bargains happening. However: Watch out for scoundrels!

  1. Be careful of false prices that make discounts seem all the juicier. Some stores briefly increase prices before the big deal days to suggest to potential buyers that they have snatched a bargain. Check the manufacturer's recommended retail price as a guide when making a purchase.

  1. So-called fake shops are a problem around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These are fraudulent websites disguised as stores without offering goods. It’s also possible to accidentally buy a fake. Check with your consumer protection office or ask a family member to look at the shop if the deals look too good to be true, or the English seem odd sounding. Remember: you can never go wrong shopping on a trusted online shop like Amazon, or the online shop of your favorite department store.

Every shopper appreciates the convenience of shopping from home. For seniors, online shopping is an excellent way to ensure continued independence and a consistent quality of life. We wish you happy and safe shopping!

As always, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter if you found this on social media and get back to living your best life!

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