By Angela Carson (pictured) and Philippe Morin, Aedgency e-commerce project leaders.
European performance-based marketing specialist Aedgency has released its 10 commandments for online shopping to celebrate World Consumer Rights Day (which took place on March 15, 2010).
The guidelines are part of the pan European company’s consumer education programme through which it aims to help users protect their rights when they turn to Internet to find the best offers.
World Consumer Rights Day is inspired by John F. Kennedy’s speech to the United States Congress in 1962 in which he highlighted the need to protect the rights of consumers, who he described as “the largest economic group, affecting and affected by almost every public and private economic decision.”
Kennedy emphasised four basic consumer rights; the right to safety, the right to be informed, the right to choose and the right to be heard.
Taking into account these four principles, Aedgency has drafted ten simple rules consumers can follow to make the most of online shopping and protect their safety.
1. Make the most of the resources the web offers to find the best deals. The Internet provide multiple avenues to search for products and services, these range from the big search engines to specialist shopping tools, such as price comparison and voucher sites.
2. You may be asked to ‘opt-in’ to some of these web services (this is a practice that requires voluntarily registration so the user can make use of specialist tools in return for ads for example). However, beware of phishing sites; if a website requires you to fill out personal data make sure that the information requested is strictly necessary to complete the process.
3. Make sure you’re confident that any website or service you are considering signing up to is genuine. Take your time to surf the site, the more you know about the service, the more comfortable you will feel with it.
4. Read the small print. Make sure you know who gets your data, how they will use and safeguard this, and how you can exercise your right of access and cancelation.
5. Review the terms and conditions of use of the site/service before accepting them; for example how simple is the opt-out process if you no longer wish to receive that service.
Once you have followed all these steps, if you decide to buy, please, remember:
6. Check the web page you are accessing is secure and legitimate. Look at the address bar; a safe website has the letters https:// at the start of its address. The “s” indicates that is a secure site. Check if there is a closed padlock or a key icon on the bottom of the page when checking out or giving credit card details, if you hover your cursor over this it will bring up the site’s security certificate.
7. Technology is your friend; make use of the discount web pages, cashback sites, offers and coupons to get the best deal.
8. Check the delivery conditions and the delivery period for the product or service. Compare vendors to choose the provider that best meets your needs.
9. Your information belongs to you and you as equally responsible as third parties for how this is used. Remember to erase any personal data from the PC hard-drive if you’re using a public or shared computer.
10. Keep all of your order information and confirmation emails and electronic receipts so you can exercise your rights to returns and refunds if necessary.
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