The dangers of offshore online shopping
The click of a mouse and a letterbox is all you need to do your shopping these days – especially when you don’t feel like heading out into the cold or battling traffic.
Most New Zealand retailers have an online offering that allows you to click and buy from the safety of the sofa while still supporting local businesses.
There is also a high chance you’ve headed online and overseas if you want to shop for things that just aren’t available here.
But offshore online shopping brings with it a few pitfalls that many people aren’t aware of until they are hit in the wallet. Here are a few things to watch out for:
1. New Zealand is a million miles away from anywhere so the cost of shipping can be expensive. Some online stores offer flat shipping rates, even free delivery. Nevertheless, pay careful attention – the price might be cheaper but extra shipping fees might affect your credit card statement significantly and quickly turn a ‘‘good buy’’ into a costly exercise.
2. Balance the pros and the cons of online shopping versus just going to a store. Some online retailers ‘promise’ quick deliveries, however there’s still no guarantee that your goods will arrive on time. Other stores charge more for speedier delivery but that still might not meet your time expectations. If your purchase is very time-dependent, just go to the shop. It may cost you a bit more, but it might just be worth it.
3. Don’t think shopping offshore and online will automatically mean you bypass GST. You could still get stung at the border. Make sure you check the New Zealand Customs Service website to find out more about fees you might be liable for before handing over your credit card details. Not also that the government is currently considering taxing even small purchases such as music downloaded from iTunes and overseas Netflix memberships – with murmurings that changes could start taking place before Christmas this year.
4. A common complaint about online shopping is that what turns up on a doorstep sometimes looks nothing like what was advertised in photos. The Consumer Guarantees Act protects buyers purchasing products in New Zealand but the same protection may not apply to overseas purchases and many local insurance companies might not cover them either.
5. The quality of packaging can vary greatly. Getting a replacement or reimbursement for damaged goods could see you jumping through all sorts of hoops. The only way to guarantee the condition of your purchase is by picking it up from a store yourself.
6. Nipping into a physical store and buying what you need when you need it is always more reliable than ordering it online. Plus, you can feel good about supporting your local community and the Kiwi economy.
Filling your shopping trundler with the real deal could sometimes be a safer bet than going offshore and online.