I have been an avid online shopper for years, and pride myself in not following into the pit of buying something thats not real or from an outdated no longer manned website. Here are some suggestions:
I always look to see if they have an actual address, phone number and contact name. If they are afraid to post those then I would be afraid to shop there. Yes there are many mom and pop stores and they STILL show the customers respect by acting as if they are offering real service.
Check the homepage out, does it contain outdated information? I wouldn't shop anywhere that shows outdated information, as that makes me worry if they haven't kept up with their website.
Call the business phone # and see if it is real? Did someone answer it professionally?
Check out there terms and conditions, thats when you will see if they promise to keep your information secure, so many companies are selling our information. I still get calls from a place or two saying I signed up for something I never did. Also check to see if they stand behind their products and have return policy in place. I use to adore ebay and at times still do but those "you buy it, you own it" scares me to no end. Do they post their shipping rate? Many companies lower the price of the item for you only to find out upon checking out that they are making up for it with outraggous shipping rates.
Lastly and most importantly, is check out secure?
Do a google search on the company name and find out if there are any negetive feedbacks? I suppose its possible for some companies to have some negative feed back, but is everything you are reading about them negative? I'd worry about that company wouldn't you?
Winapeg i another source where you can look up the company
That shouldn't mean you should be fearful of shopping online, what that means is you should do so with awareness, just as you would with any store you walk in. You look around to see if its clean, offer customer service? Do the same thing with your online shopping. Look around the site, check out their about us - terms of service, return policy and very important physical address and phone # where you can actually contact them with any questions.
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A good example of a store I'd shop at is: http://www.speciallyforyounovelties.com