In this series I will look at tips and how-tos for prospecting and current online shoppers in Zimbabwe.
Once you have decided to make an online purchase, you should get down to searching and selecting the store from which to make the purchase. This is almost certainly affected by the product you want to purchase but given the global nature of the internet there can almost certainly be more than one option. It is always recommended to shop from well-known reputable online resource for your particular product. For example you are better off buying your music or TV show episodes from iTunes than someshop.com.
If for some reason you cannot buy from well-known reputable stores, then progress with caution, scammers are continuously coming up with new tricks to dupe online shoppers. It is always a good idea to Google the site you want to buy from using words like “scam” to see if the site has not been involved in scamming activities in the past. For example Google “potentialsite.com is a scam.” This normally shows results from several review sites where the site’s services are evaluated and customer feedback is posted. It should be noted however that only angry customers are most likely to post on these review sites so negative reviews might not mean a bad site and some scammers also post fake positive reviews posing as customers.
Although this is becoming increasingly rare as design tools have become ubiquitous, scammer websites are usually of poor design and are a poor imitation of the real thing. The images on the site may be misaligned and some links dead. Do a domain name lookup of the address to try and determine if the name(s) of the domain owner is the same name that is used in the “About Us” page. Chances are if the two are different , it’s a scam. Be wary of shops with domains that do not yield the actual information of the owner when you do a whois search. It is also important to look carefully at the name of the domain. You have no idea how many people have fallen for cheap tricks like gooogle.com, micr0soft.com , amaz0n.cometc especially if these links are hidden below text like this google.com, Microsoft.com and amazon.com .
Also try and establish how long the website has been online. Most scammers are fly by night creatures whose websites rarely stay online for any number of months and rarely years. It is also important to check whether the site is endorsed by any of the trusted security companies likeMacAfee and Norton. Click on the assurance logos of these companies and check on the URL that come up and verify that they really link to the websites of the security companies for example https://trustsealinfo.verisign.com and https://www.mcafeesecure.com respectively. It is imperative to verify that the resultant pop ups refer to the original domain name of the store.
It is also important to make sure that the site itself is using a secure connection when you are asked to checkout. If the site’s certificate is not trusted by your browser or has expired or does not match the domain for which it was issued then the store is most likely a fraud. You can always get additional information about a store by clicking on the lock icon in the address bar of your browser.
In the unfortunate event that you are scammed, or the goods or services you ordered are not delivered, or a product of differing quality or nature was delivered, you should contact your bank to effect a chargeback to recover your money. I will be honest, I have been unlucky to need to effect a chargeback so I have no idea how effective/efficient the service is in Zimbabwe. Payment wise, you can spare yourself a lot of trouble by paying using a payment processing company like 2checkout.com or Google Wallet. These have better experience when handling customer complaints when compared to your local bank branch. If you ever had to make a chargeback please share your experience.
When buying electronic goods here are some shops you should consider (it is usually better to form the manufacturer themselves):
- Laptopscreens.com for your laptop screens and paraphernalia.
- Ebay.com This is an auction site as well as a storefront.
- Amazon.com a storefront for all sorts of goods including electronics and books.
- Everbuying.com if you are a Zimbabwean this shop is recommended above all the others. Almost all the sellers ship to Zimbabwe at reasonable prices and they also accept Western Union as payment.
- Lenovo.com for all Lenovo products.
- Bestbuy.com for consumer electronics.
- Samsung.com for tablets, laptops and cameras
- Store.apple.com for all your apple products.
If there are stores for certain goods that you would like to recommend please feel free to share in the comments.
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