To buy something you’ve never checked for defects and haven’t tried on for size. Little scary, right?

Of course, most of us are used to it. Online shopping is convenient.

Who has the time to wander in and out of different shops, trying out clothes, spending hours in a stuffy mall in between large crowds? Why not just sit in the comfort of your own home, or rather, anywhere you want and just put in an order and have those goodies delivered to your doorstep?

That VIP treatment is what 21st century is all about.

But then again there are some who are still reluctant and skeptical, though. And with good reason. Try this on for size.

This person had the worst experience shopping with an online company. Where the dress (on the left) was ordered, but the dress that was delivered (right) was nothing like it was presented online. The print, colours, style, fit, material thoroughly varied from the product photographs on the site.

When they were contacted, the customer was told that they can guarantee only 80% similarity and that these things are very common, and therefore should be expected. They refused to refund the money since their policy was to provide only store credit. The consumer then tried to reach senior management but no one seemed bothered to address the customer’s grievances.

There are loads of online shopping sites which are more concerned with pulling off a successful money-making scam than running a successful business. It’s companies like these that create a bad name for the online shopping industry.

They lack accountability and take advantage of gullible shoppers. Bad reviews don’t deter them since they can just as easily come up with another scam idea.

People are lured in by ads – mostly on Facebook – promising affordable, trendy clothing, but what they receive is nowhere near what they ordered.

And the kicker is, if you buy something you like from an online site no one has heard of before, and it doesn’t turn out like you thought it would, people will inevitably blame you.

Unfair, no?

But then again, if something like this does happen to you, it’s your duty to make sure such malpractices are reported so that more people don’t get ripped off and the site gets shut down once and for all.

The internet has made it so easy to sell products nowadays. As long as you have a computer and an internet connection and an idea to sell. You’re in business.

Which makes it easier for deceiving shmucks to rip off people like us.

ALSO READ: Click and buy! Online shopping is here to stay

But as consumers, we do have certain rights. And we should be aware of them.

Right to Safety – We have the right to avail goods that are not hazardous to our life and property. Products relating to healthcare, pharmaceuticals and food processing, for example, are tested and go through rigorous inspection and screening before they are made available to the public at large. We should buy proper ISI marked products as they conform to the standards set by the Government.

Right to Information – We, as consumers of the product, have the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services we pay for. You shouldn’t buy products that don’t have the necessary information written on the labels. There have been cases where a seller was sued because the “manufacturing date” was not written, even though the expiry date was clearly mentioned.

Right to Choose – We have access to a variety of goods and services at competitive prices and we have the right to have varied choices so we can make an informed decision while spending our money.

Right to be Heard – This right assures that our interests will receive due consideration at appropriate forums. The objective is to make sure consumers’ grievances, complaints and criticisms are heard and dealt with properly, efficiently and effectively. Redressal forums are established all across the country and the Government also established a 24×7 National Consumer Helpline making it easier to report the problems of the consumers.

Right to Redressal – Unfair or restrictive trade practices have the tendency to unscrupulously exploit consumers. Sellers who exploit consumers to make money they don’t deserve should be handled with in a severe manner. And making an official complaint is the only deterrent. And complaints can be filed at consumer courts established by the Government with the objective of dealing with consumer disputes and maintain trade practices.

And like always with rights, come duties. And as consumers, we have a duty to report all incidents of malpractice we come across. We have the responsibility to speak out and inform others.

It is our duty to make sure we collect all of the information before buying a product. We should think rationally before making a choice. We should strive to be ethical and not engage in malpractice, ourselves.

(Let’s not point fingers before we have had the chance to rid ourselves of our own sins, shall we?)

Even with big established online companies like Amazon and Flipkart, we should always double check on the product details provided in the description.

Make sure you’re buying a refundable and returnable product so that you don’t have to jump through a lot of hoops to get back your money if or when you buy something you don’t like.

Always make smart choices.

Image Credits: Google Images

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