Nobody can deny that Amazon is a behemoth. Amazon’s $178 billion in annual sales rank the company as the largest Internet retailer and marketplace in the world. Having said that, shopping on Amazon can be a love-hate relationship. When your experience goes well, there is nothing better. But when it goes badly, things can deteriorate quickly.
Here are some things that may help avoid hassles from the get-go and let you enjoy your experience:
1. Use a credit card with good consumer purchase protection. Most credit cards have some level of protection. Take time to find out what your protection is, as this can save you time in the event you need it.
2. Read the fine print, including the return policy. Some people recommend purchasing products that say, “Ships from and sold by Amazon.” This could avoid a potentially lengthy return process should the item not be right for you. Amazon says it guarantees “purchases from third-party sellers when payment is made via the Amazon.com website.” “Third-party sellers must either provide a return address within the United States, provide a prepaid return label or offer a full refund without requesting the item be returned.” You will need to be your own advocate to read the fine print to find out if the product is coming from Amazon or not.
3. Beware counterfeit products. Although Amazon has polices put in place to protect the consumer, it is possible for unscrupulous vendors to close down and reopen under a different name. If you received a counterfeit item, your money will be refunded, but who wants to go through the hassle? Counterfeit products could also be harmful if they contain poisonous substances (in knock-off toys or cosmetics to name a few). We all know the old saying, but it is valuable to hear again: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
4. Read the reviews and use your good judgement. Most people who post reviews have had experiences on the ends of the spectrum. They either had a great experience or a lousy one, but the truth is, the majority of experiences lie in the middle. Having said that, use your judgement — you can usually tell if something seems fishy.