Best online shopping sites

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06.Tips and traps

When big isn't best

Amazon and eBay have a huge range and attracted the largest number of shoppers in our survey. They lost out to the smaller players in overall customer satisfaction because of their higher delivery costs.

  • Online shoppers cited faulty goods, delayed deliveries, and no-shows as major bugbears.  
  • Slow delivery was a consistent problem in all four categories for eBay customers, as were faulty goods and no-shows, especially for books, CDs, DVDs, video games and electrical goods.
  • Many respondents claimed the delivery costs for Amazon are too high - though they liked the wide range of books and CDs offered by the British version of the global website.

Deals Direct, a local online general department store, received similar feedback for delivering faulty goods, especially electrical items. Said one respondent: “Deals Direct sent me an electric coffee machine that had already been sent to someone in Victoria (their name and address were still on the box) and returned to the company because it had a twisted collection tray. I returned it as well and only received a brand new machine after I told them I was going to complain to Consumer Affairs.” Respondents also complained that the quality of the products from Deals Direct fell short of what they expected from the online photos of the products.

The upside of visiting these bigger online retailers is that they offer a wider range of items and almost always have them in stock. In the electrical goods category, Amazon and eBay have higher satisfaction scores than JB HiFi for range, finding the product and availability, while Deals Direct scores well for price in most categories.

Its clearance deals for anything from jewellery to electronics could be one reason shoppers rated it well for price.

Online convert

online-xmas-shopperCHOICE member Marissa Millar started shopping online in 2002, when her teenage children wanted to buy T-shirts of an American music band they liked and could only buy from the US. Since then, she’s come to love the convenience of online shopping. “It’s just too tiring having to throng through the mall from one end to the other just to get two things,” she says. “With online shopping I can shop anytime and when I know what I want, I just have to click to find the items and compare prices at various sites.”

Nowadays, Marissa jumps online to buy groceries, books, DVDs, airline tickets, clothes for her children, as well as gifts for family and friends. She says: "I love the discounts I find online." Two years ago, she found wines she regularly bought for $18 per bottle going at $6 each in an online clearance sale and bought 11 cases in one go. Last year, half her Christmas gifts were purchased online.

However, Marissa warns of a couple of things to look out for. “Always read the fine print when it comes to delivery costs and return postage, as they can outweigh the benefits of buying online. I also keep a separate credit card with a lower credit limit as a form of security against fraud.”


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