If standing in line on Black Friday isn't your scene, you are not alone.
Every year, more people are choosing to hop online to buy their holiday gifts.
"My step-son did a ton of online shopping," said Patricia Galimi, a Wichita resident. "Instead of going out for Black Friday, he sat at his computer and got online. He got a lot of stuff super cheap that way."
According to the group Shoppertrak, Cyber Monday is expected to be huge this year. Experts say sales could reach $2-billion. Last year, they hit about $1.5-billion.
"It's just a hassle to get out sometimes, so most people prefer to shop online," said Angela Stieber, of Wichita. "You don't have to fight the lines."
Lately, Cyber Monday has turned into Cyber Week, with online retailers taking advantage of those bargain hunters online.
"Usually when we do online shopping it's electronics and books and stuff like that," said Galimi. "You get it faster if you get it in the store, but online, many are doing free shipping for the holidays so it's almost just as fast."
Here's some tips: Hunt online before the big sale so you can find the best deal on the product you are wanting to purchase. Then, test the item in a store before buying something you later may find wasn't quite right. Also, always make sure the online site offers free shipping. A good deal may not be as good with that added cost.
But still, many Wichitans prefer the old fashion way.
"I like to see what I'm buying," said Doug Pringle. "I think most people do. I also like to support local merchants."
If you chose to shop online, here are some tips to protect yourself from the Better Business Bureau.
- Protect your computer – A computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and a secure firewall.
- Shop on trustworthy websites – Shoppers should start at www.bbb.org to check on the seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction. It’s a good idea to look for the BBB logo and other widely-recognized seals on retailer websites, but make sure they are real (some rogue sites plagiarize seals to look legitimate).
- Beware of deals that sound too good to be true – Offers on websites and in unsolicited e-mails can often sound too good to be true, especially extremely low prices on hard-to-get items. Consumers should always go with their instincts and not be afraid to pass up a “deal” that might cost them dearly in the end.
- Beware of phishing – Legitimate businesses do not send e-mails claiming problems with an order or an account to lure the “buyer” into revealing financial information. If a consumer receives such an e-mail, BBB recommends picking up the phone and calling the contact number on the website where the purchase was made to confirm that there really is a problem with the transaction.
- Confirm your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, BBB recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and select “Properties.” This will let you see the real URL (website address) and the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted.
- Pay with a credit card – It’s best to use a credit card, because under federal law, you can dispute the charges if you don’t receive the item. Your also have dispute rights if there are unauthorized charges on your credit card, and many card issuers have “zero liability” policies under which the card holder pays nothing if someone steals the credit card number and uses it. If you are going to shop on classifieds web sites like Craigslist, never wire money and only buy locally where you can see the item before you hand over your money.
- Keep documentation of your order - After completing the online order process, there may be a final confirmation page or the shopper might receive confirmation by e-mail – BBB recommends saving a copy of the web page and any e-mails for future reference and as a record of the purchase.
- Check your credit card statements often – Don’t wait for paper statements; BBB recommends consumers check their credit card statements for suspicious activity by either calling credit card companies or by looking at statements online regularly.
- Know your rights – Federal law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren’t shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. There is no general three-day cancellation right, but consumers do have the right to reject merchandise if it’s defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it’s the company’s policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit.