Since I got my first and only credit card back in 2007 (I still have the same one, although obviously not the exact same physical card as I’ve been through a couple of expiry dates, but the same account nonetheless) I’ve made many big purchases online. Mostly things like hotel reservations, flights, concert tickets.
When it comes to buying physical goods online, I stick to smaller items. Guitar strings and contact lenses are SO much cheaper online than in shops. I bought my voice recorder and phone recording adapter online. I’ve bought a handful of clothes online, which is okay when you stick to a label you know and where you’re familiar with their sizing. I even played it risky and bought a bass amp online once (a trusted brand, of course).
My Pretty Pennies recently had a bad experience buying clothes online, which actually inspired this post. See, I recently made my biggest ever purchase of physical goods online. T bought aftermarket full fairings for his bike (which he’s been working on), which cost not far off $1000. They arrived safely, are the right colour, shape and fit, and allowed for an all-round sigh of relief (although for some reason they packaged and sent one lot of bolts separately. Bizarre).
To date, my only real damp squib remains picking up a genuine leather jacket off TradeMe that was never, ever going to fit me.
We suffer from high prices and lack of choice here (on a related note, see Vanessa’s guest post on the headache that is shopping in Canada) though NZ Post has a new service, YouShop, that lets NZ shoppers buy items from US online stores to be delivered to a US address, and then on to their NZ address (circumventing policies that exclude NZ delivery, or impose high shipping charges). So it’s no surprise that online shopping is serious biz.
That said, I’m definitely cautious about buying things off the internet, a fear that rises in proportion with the amount at stake.
Here’s what I take into consideration.
Is it a commodity? If so, it’s probably cheaper online. Books, CDs, etc.
Can I check it out in person first, somehow? I bought my glasses online, but only after I was able to try the exact same pair on in a retail shop. That was uber important to me because I have a ridiculously wide head and flat nose/face, which means very few frames fit properly. After that, by all means buy the exact same item online at a major discount.
What about shipping? Shipping costs can kill a bargain. Apparently everyone loves Asos thanks to its free freight around the world. I’m keeping that in mind for the future (when I’m off my shopping ban), but not knowing anything about their sizing, I’d be wary.
What do you buy online?