24-hour pur­chas­ing peril

The Bay Chronicle - - SITUATIONS VACANT - ROB STOCK

Clear­ing out a cup­board the other day, I came upon child­hood relics.

They were tiny minia­tures, mon­strous things, all claws and jaws.

IQ-re­tard­ing lead spewed from car ex­hausts in the 1980s, so no­body blinked at sell­ing lead­based fig­urines to chil­dren.

Ah, the mem­o­ries those fig­urines brought back, though I never could af­ford the whole set with my pocket money.

But hey, this is the mod­ern world. You can buy any­thing, any­time.

Ten min­utes later I was on the check­out page of an Ital­ian com­pany’s web­site, about to com­plete the col­lec­tion 30 years later, be­fore com­mon sense pre­vailed.

That 24/7 abil­ity to shop is the big­gest wealth dan­ger posed by on­line shop­ping.

I speak as a man/boy whose fin­ger hov­ered mo­men­tar­ily over the key­board to okay a €70 (NZ$115) pay­ment for some small metal toys.

Im­pulse wealth de­ple­tion is just one of the dan­gers of shop­ping on­line.

The re­cent Com­merce Com­mis­sion’s Con­sumer Is­sues re­port in­di­cated many of us are lead lit­tle too trust­ing.

Ex­po­sure to ad­ver­tis­ing, false life­style ex­pec­ta­tions, and the abil­ity to vir­tu­ally walk through end­less dig­i­tal aisles are all threats to hu­man wealth and men­tal health.

But so is giv­ing your credit card de­tails to an over­seas trader you just met on the in­ter­net.

I asked Net­safe to tell me how to stay safe while shop­ping on­line.

First, buy only from com­pa­nies you trust.

In our house­hold, The Book De­pos­i­tory and Bri­tish cloth­ing re­tailer Bo­den are among the small num­ber of on­line re­tail­ers we buy from.

It’s not just trust­ing them not to steal our money. It’s trust­ing them to send good-qual­ity stuff.

The com­mis­sion found a lot of un­hap­pi­ness with the qual­ity of goods bought on­line, and the de­liv­ery times, and oc­ca­sional non-de­liv­ery.

There’s com­fort in deal­ing with big com­pa­nies who have rep­u­ta­tions they can’t af­ford to

lose, but I’m quite com­fort­able with buy­ing from New Zealand­based small spe­cial­ity busi­nesses, though I need to know where they are phys­i­cally based, and who runs them.

That’s easy us­ing the Com­pa­nies Of­fice search­able on­line data­base.

I like to see New Zealand­based share­hold­ers and di­rec­tors with or­di­nary street ad­dresses.

Don’t be fooled by ‘‘.co.nz’’ on a web­site.

It doesn’t mean the com­pany is based in New Zealand.

Buy­ing through big in­ter­me­di­aries like Trade Me and Ama­zon can also help en­gen­der trust. They have public feed­back sys­tems, and mech­a­nisms to ex­clude crooks, though no sys­tem is fool­proof.

Im­por­tantly, they also have safe ways to pay like PayPal and Trade Me’s PayNow which keep your pay­ment de­tails from the mer­chant. Guard your pri­vate de­tails – in­clud­ing your credit card de­tails – jeal­ously.

Read the terms and con­di­tions of trade of on­line traders, and be deeply cau­tious if they are con­fus­ing and fees are not clearly ex­plained.

On­line shop­ping brings choice, com­pe­ti­tion, saves leg­work, and lets you in­dulge your rar­efied hob­bies, but you need self-de­fence strate­gies against the dan­gers it brings.

All grown up: Rob Stock with his still in­com­plete child­hood col­lec­tion of lead mon­ster fig­ures.

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