New York Times Reveals Online Shopping Horror Story – Don’t Let This Happen To You

Holiday shopping season is now in full swing, so it’s a good time to remind everyone that while online shopping provides convenience, it can also lead to major headaches, if not much worse. Take heed of the woeful tale told by Clarabelle Rodriguez in The New York Times this weekend. Ms. Rodriguez went looking for new eyeglasses and contacts online, ordered from a store that listed near to top of Google’s search results, and ended up on a hellish roller-coaster ride of overcharges, harassment, and incompetence from the institutions that are meant to protect consumers and citizens such as herself. Yes, all that over eyeglasses.

The Times’ in-depth investigative piece is definitely worth a read, even if just to gawk in horror at everything the poor woman went through. The lesson, in the end, is that whenever you shop online — especially if you’re buying from a storefront that isn’t a known quantity (and even sometimes when it is) — always do a bit of research before handing over your credit card number.

Look up the URL and/or store name on sites like Get Satisfaction, Complaints Board, Consumer Affairs, and Ripoff Report to see what past customers had to say about their transactions. If you’re on eBay or Amazon’s Marketplace, always look at a seller’s feedback. I sometimes Google the name of a store plus “review” or “complaint” or “customer service” or something similar just to see what comes up. A Google blog search is particularly useful for digging up dissatisfied customers.

If you see more than the normal amount of complaining or anything resembling what Ms. Rodriguez went through, find somewhere else to buy that thing you want.

It’s true that most any store will have some negative feedback. The hope is to avoid the real crazies of the world who are just out to take your money in exchange for faulty product. Sadly, even diligent folk sometimes run afoul of these situations. In such cases, it’s also a good idea to know what protections your card has (debit is sometimes different from credit, for instance). And if you run into extremely unhelpful bank reps, use the power of The Force executive customer service.

Safe shopping, everyone.

Image Credit: David G. Klein, The New York Times

Email* (will not be published)
*Indicates required field
Submit Comments

All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options