The McDonald 4×4 Guide
to buying online.
Of course, you know how to get online, you’re there already. As for shopping, I’m sure you’ve done some before now.
It’s just like a real world shop except the changing rooms aren’t all full, you don’t fear the foot measuring machine pinching your toes and you don’t have to cue at the with 500 other people whilst children race around you like giddy fools.
Except it’s not just like real-world shopping, because you can’t see what you’re buying. You can’t fell the weight, see the length, get a real idea of how well it will go with the new sofa. Is that the real colour, not a half shade off?
Shopping online you should expect your goods to be;
- What was advertised
- Supplied in a timely manner
- Fit for the purpose advertised
- Reasonably priced
Some top tips for shopping online.
1 Your Flexible Friend
Use a credit card. Not a debit card, but a credit card. As part of the government allowing the creation of credit cards, they insisted on credit card companies helping to protect consumers, so if you have a problem with a supplier and can’t resolve it, tell your credit card company. They will refund you and then chase the supplier themselves.
You even get fraud protection if someone steals your details and goes on a shopping spree themselves. As long as you pay off the balance before the due date, it doesn’t matter what the percentage rate is, you’ll not be paying it.
2 Look for the S
All website addresses start with ‘http://’. This is how computers know you’re looking for an internet address. What you want to see when you’re paying is ‘httpS://’. The S signifies a secure connection, which means that the website has created a James Bond-like encryption key and sent it to you and you’re using it. Nobody can listen in on the conversation and steal details and when you pay, the money is going where you want it to. You don’t really need a secure connection whilst you’re choosing items, but you should expect to see it when you go to pay.
There are plenty of cashback websites now who offer you money for shopping online. They usually work in conjunction with companies to get you to go to a certain company or buy a certain product, but often it’s simply a way to put a company’s advertising in front of you directly. With the usual caveat that you should be careful, and always be safe, you should look at cashback options as a bonus rather than a risk.
4 Never look a gifthorse in the mouth?
You can’t con an honest person. It’s a truism because it’s true. If something looks too good to be true then it usually is, so if you receive emails offering top-quality goods at street-market prices, ask yourself if this makes sense…
5 Caveat Emptor
Buyer Beware, as the latin phrase goes, is a sensible maxim. Before you shop online, there are some simple security tips to follow;
a. Update your internet browser to get the latest protection (usually by clicking Help > About) and ensure the best compatibility with internet security programs.
b. Update your antivirus programs. There are plenty of free antivirus programs which make their money by selling corporate licenses to companies for business use, but who use your experience to trawl the web for nasties to protect against. You can also pay for upgraded services, although these are often unnecessary and don’t add to their core purpose.
c. Secure your bank cards. Most banks now have security protocols for your credit or debit cards, so that each purchase needs a password and username before the money will transfer. Pick a password you’ll remember but one with letters, numbers and some punctuation to make it really hard to guess. Don’t use your birthdate (which you will often supply as part of a user account profile) or the word ‘password’.
d. Use a credit card directly. You can pay with online payment methods like PayPal, and can even link cards to them so that the money transfers immediately, but be aware that you only get consumer protection by using a credit card directly. If you pay any other way, you are at the mercy of the supplier when things go wrong. It’s really not worth it.
Don’t be afraid of contacting the seller. You should be able to contact them by email, phone or post if you have any questions. You can ask for details about the item rather than just making a decision on the strength of the pictures and descriptions given, and even ask if the price quoted is the best that they can do. Hey, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, right?
This also has the added benefit of letting you get an idea of how genuine the seller seems. IF you have any qualms about them, walk away.
Search engines can be just as reliable as comparison websites for showing you items for sale, and you should shop around. Seldom will you find the same item at the same price everywhere; companies are not allowed to get together to set a price (this is illegal) and there’s always someone who hopes to make more money with the mantra ‘pile them high and sell them cheap’.
This may work to your benefit but don’t forget that large stores will often accept an online competitor’s prices as genuine, and take your business if they can. If you find a washing machine online cheaper than a shop has on the sign, ask for the manager and give them the chance to match the price. It gives you a human to talk to and if necessary to call should things go pear-shaped.
This really does work; we have seen it done.
As far as McDonald 4×4’s webshop goes, we would recommend the following tips:
Have a good think about what you want. Get it straight in your mind. Make sure that you know exactly which vehicle you have, and which part you want.
Shop around to get a good idea of options and prices. We are certain that we can offer any part available to any other supplier, and we’re pretty sure that we charge less than anyone else too. If you find somewhere cheaper, there’s a good chance we can match the price if you let us know!
You can use the search facility on our webshop to look for parts or you can use the index to choose the vehicle, then the area of the car, then surf to your heart’s content, or you can just call us. We’re only too happy to help you find out about your car and how to make it better if it’s poorly. Between the parts and the workshop staff we have as much experience with Land Rover vehicles as you could want. We’ll bet you we’ve seen it before and fixed it.
For further advice on shopping online, try these links:
Citizen’s Advice Bureau
GQ Magazine’s guide to shopping online
UK Consumer Council
Money Advice Service
BBC Webwise guide to shopping online
PC Magazine’s guide to online shopping
Wikipedia guide to shopping online
Which guide to shopping online
This was written by Rupert Astbury.