Anyone who is unaware that a full solar eclipse is vastly approaching either doesn’t care or has just woke up from a long coma. The August 21st date of this enormous event has been promoted non-stop through social media, the news networks and websites offering to sell merchandise that will allow others to safely view the solar eclipse. Although Amazon has been in the mix, the online company distanced itself from others on Saturday by offering customers refunds on certain protective solar sunglasses from specific vendors.

The reason given to those who purchased glasses from certain vendors was the concern that they were unsafe or counterfeit.  So, rather than take the chance that the glasses are not safe and an individual(s) go after the company with a lawsuit, Amazon is doing the smart thing by giving refunds to those who may have been duped.

While there are bound to be fraudulent vendors who will and are taking advantage of the solar eclipse to make cash at the expense of others, people would be naive to think this type of deception is limited to just this historic event.  The sad thing is, this act of misleading a customer has been going on for a long time and it appears this will most likely to continue.  Today’s conversation needs to identify what the big problem is and how to avoid getting caught up in it.

The big problem for the consumer is…

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The bigger problem that the consumer must always be on the lookout for is to avoid being scammed.  However, there are two general ways that a customer can be duped in which one way is obvious while the other is more deceptive.  Now, many would argue that shopping online is better than having to physically transport yourself to a store, spend time trying to locate a certain item, wait on a usually lengthy line to pay for the item and finally making it back home; this I can appreciate why online purchasing is the better option.  However, the major downside to buying an item online is it creates more of an opportunity for deception to take place on behalf of the seller.  One level of this type of deception is easily spotted once the item arrives.

What you see isn’t always what you get

The obvious way a consumer immediately realizes there is a problem is when your package arrives and when you open it, the item is not what you had purchased.  There is no issue if the website is legit and you can either get a refund or sending the item back and they resend you the right product.  However, there are vendors that are not legit as they deny the opportunity to receive a refund or to send the product back and the right product to be sent out.  Then, there is another way a vendor may deceive a customer that is not so obvious.

Quantity does not outweigh quality

One of the reasons that I do a lot of my tech purchasing on home shopping networks relates to the deals they offer, such as getting two of the same items at the price of one.  However, one of the pitfalls customers fall into is thinking that quantity must equal quality; yet, what can happen is the low price can reflect how good the condition of the items is. 

Unless the website/vendor is well-known and has a return policy that protects the consumer, better to remember the saying of how you get what you paid for.  Until the product has been used, quality is not so easy to distinguish and can lead into more problems than the items were worth. 

Can you imagine someone buying multiple solar eclipse sunglasses to use during the event and then finding out the hard way the glasses were unsafe and counterfeits?  Fortunately, Amazon’s recall may have made customers get miffed about this process but in the long run, this is way better than using a product that could lead to someone becoming blind.

Suggestions on how to shop safely online

The term caveat emptor, let the buyer beware, is a phrase ever shopper knows or should know.  This was easier to do when people physically went into a store and could see and feel a product before deciding if it is worth purchasing an item.  While online shopping offers the ease of buying goods and services from the comfort of one’s home, the pitfalls and traps that goes along with this cannot be ignored.  This leads to the question of how does an individual avoid being conned or duped?  The best way to avoid this would be to not shop online and go to the store in person. 

Since I do not plan on doing that myself, my next suggestion is to shop on websites and use vendors that can be trusted.  Any website that is not well-known that is offering great deals should be checked out before making a purchase, such as do they have a return or refund policy and does the item(s) advertised have photos of it displayed; this does not mean there is still the possibility of being scammed but at least you are supposedly seeing what you’re buying. 

Another suggestion would be to research what the item is being sold on other websites/vendors, so that if numerous sellers are generally selling it around the same price while the vendor in question is selling it at a ridiculously lower price; better to avoid buying it there unless you really want to chance it. 

No matter what the angle sellers are using to get someone to buy their product, such as the solar eclipse, there will always be those who are looking to scam customers into thinking the deal being offered is genuine and it would be foolish to pass it up.  The best defense to avoid being duped is to remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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