Online shopping made safe


Shopping online offers many advantages but like every coin this too has a flipside

Online shopping is purchasing a product from the comfort of your home by going to an online shopping site (such as Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Jabong, Shop Clues and eBay) and paying online using a credit/debit card. In some cases cash on delivery is an option.

The practice of online shopping has grown tremendously in India in recent times. The convenience, wide choice and good bargains lure youngsters and busy professionals to buy everything from groceries, clothes to electronics online. A survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has revealed that 78% of the respondents in India shop online at least monthly.

Many problems


While the benefits may be many, there are many issues which may lead to disappointment. One of the major problems faced by online shoppers is ‘Refusal to refund’. Return policies are not always customer friendly: (i) there is a list of products which can’t be returned (ii) a short period by when a product can be returned, say within 10 days. Other major problems with online shopping are:

  • Goods not received
  • Substandard/defective products
  • Hidden charges
  • Credit/debit card fraud
  • Even in case of cash on delivery, consumers can’t inspect goods before paying
  • Contact details of vendor not on website
  • No response to complaints
  • No service centre nearby
  • Consumers have to send product to company at their own cost

Rock shock

Two recent cases in India demonstrate the shocks that can be in store for online shoppers. A Flipkart customer ordered a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo but was shocked to receive a rock! Another Snapdeal customer, who also ordered a Samsung phone, got a bar of soap instead!!

What to do if you have a complaint


  • Contact call centre/customer care department of the company by email or phone
  • If needed, escalate the complaint to a higher authority
  • Post a complaint on Facebook, Twitter
  • Ask a consumer organisation to mediate
  • File a case in consumer court against the company
  • In case of credit/debit card fraud, go to police cyber crime cell

10 ways to protect yourself


  1. Be cautious of using public computers or unsecure WiFi connections
  2. Check for padlock sign and https in URL to ensure site is secure
  3. Buy from reputed site and check manufacturer’s warranty, authenticity and reviews of both the product and seller
  4. Explore extensively to get best price but don’t buy a product just because it is on sale
  5. Look for any hidden costs like delivery charges
  6. Read terms and conditions on Repair, Replacement and Refund carefully
  7. Opt for cash on delivery or keep a proof of transaction details of online payment
  8. Use a separate credit card for online shopping of lesser value
  9. In case of a failed order but successful bank transaction, contact company’s customer care department and bank/credit card company immediately
  10. Change passwords periodically
Sources: pcworld.com; CERC publications and media reports.
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