Safe Online Shopping

Benefits of shopping online

There are many potential benefits of shopping online, making it worth your while to try it out.

  • Lower Prices
    Without the added expense of a physical retail store, and with the efficiencies of computerised ordering and fulfillment systems, online shopping sites can sometimes operate with lower costs and therefore pass on savings to you, the customer. Also, exposure in a global market can make for fierce competition, increasing the chance that you'll enjoy a lower price.
  • Convenience
    Online shops are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can do your shopping in the comfort of your own home, without the hassles of traffic, parking lots, shopping trolleys and crowded malls. And you can purchase from a store located on the other side of the country, and receive your order at your doorstep the next day. Now that's convenience!
  • Choice
    On the Internet, shopping around is a simple matter of point and click, instead of running around town all day. There is a huge number of stores online, meaning you have far greater choice.
  • Information
    The Internet gives you access to all the information you need. Detailed product information, reviews, and price comparisons, all at your finger tips.
  • Rewards
    Of course you mustn't forget the rewards you'll earn by shopping through RewardsCentral. That's the best part of all!

Potential risks of shopping online

There are some risks associated with online shopping that you should be aware of.

  • Fraud
    Credit card fraud is not limited to the Internet. Credit card fraud has been around for a long time, and it can happen anywhere, anytime that you use your credit card to make a purchase. But there are steps you can take to greatly limit the chances of it happening to you.
  • Surprises
    Nasty surprises do happen, like an unexpected delivery charge, or a product that isn't exactly what you had in mind. To avoid this, preparation and keeping yourself informed are the keys.
  • Privacy
    Naturally people are concerned about their privacy, and are hesitant to provide personal details over the Internet, fearing that the information they provide may be misused. Once again, preparation and keeping yourself informed are paramount.

How RewardsCentral reduces the risk

By shopping with RewardsCentral Online Shopping partners, you're choosing reliable brands with a strong reputation.

Before they even become an RewardsCentral partner, each company is carefully screened by RewardsCentral. Are they an established business with a physical business address? Do they have SSL security for credit card payments? Do they have solid ordering, fulfillment and returns policies? What about their privacy statement? RewardsCentral looks at all these aspects and more.

Then once we agree to accept them as a partner, RewardsCentral invites feedback about the company from any members who have spent money there.

We receive many emails each day from members. And when a member complains about a particular Online Shopping reward partner, we listen. We don't want a bad reward partner destroying our reputation and damaging the delicate thread of trust that our members have in us.

Any reward partner that continually doesn't make the grade is asked to explain the situation. And if they can't provide a reasonable explanation and resolve the outstanding issues with our members, then they're cut from the program.

Furthermore, a member rating system allows all members the chance to recommend or not recommend an Online Shopping reward partner. And you can read other members' experiences in the member reviews section.

Payments and credit card security

There are several advantages to using a credit card when shopping online, for example, worldwide acceptance, and the sheer convenience of using a card. Also, most financial institutions limit your liability for unauthorised use of your card, providing you take certain precautions and don't contribute to the unauthorised use.

What steps should you take to ensure your credit card details are safe?

  • Use a web browser with SSL security. Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator version 2 or higher already have this encryption technology built in. This technology keeps the data you transmit over the Internet private. Download the very latest version web browser to ensure you are using the most up-to-date security.
  • Look for the locked padlock or unbroken key icon in your browser window when you're about to enter your card details. These icons tell you that SSL security is now active.
  • Keep a record of the transactions you make online, including the date, amount, invoice or receipt number, what the payment was for, and the web address of the company. Most companies will email an order confirmation to you, and it's a simple matter of printing this out and filing with your records.
  • Notify your bank immediately if you become aware of an unauthorised transaction on your credit card account.
  • Find out about, and understand, the conditions and policies that apply to your credit card, and what you need to do to limit your liability in the event of an unauthorised transaction. Call your bank or visit their web site to find out this information.

Avoiding nasty surprises

As mentioned earlier, avoiding nasty surprises is all about being prepared. Before you purchase, look into the following:

  • Are you sure the product is exactly what you want? If there's even a hint of doubt, contact the online store's customer service, via email or phone. You might like to ask if it's suitable for the purpose you had in mind, or just exactly how big (or small) it is. Make sure you know what you're paying for.
  • How much will delivery cost, and how long will it take to arrive? These are very important questions to ask. The answers should be readily available in the store's customer service section. Look for 'Freight', 'Shipping', or 'Delivery'.

    Sometimes delivery depends on the number of items or the weight of the items, and is therefore calculated as you submit your order. If this is the case, you should still be able to get an idea based on the guides they provide. If not, ask customer service to find out. Keep yourself informed!

    How long it takes to receive your order will also depend on stock availability. If this information is not clearly available, make it your business to find out by again asking customer service.
  • Returns and refunds; are they possible, and under what conditions can you get a refund?
  • What is this company going to do with your personal details? Be sure to check out their privacy statement.
  • As was mentioned above in the payments section, keeping an accurate record of your purchase is important. In a real bricks-and-mortar store, you'd normally keep your receipt after a purchase, in case you need to return the item for refund or exchange. In the online world, having the details of your transaction at hand will make things a lot easier when enquiring about an item that hasn't turned up, or asking for a refund or return.

    You will normally receive a confirmation of your order by email, and the easiest thing to do is keep the email or print it out and file in a safe place.

All this might seem like a lot of effort. But it's worth it for the peace of mind you'll enjoy. We're quite sure that in the end, you'll find the benefits of shopping online will still outweigh the associated risks and necessary measures.

Refer a friend to RewardsCentral and be rewarded!