Online Shopping in Pakistan - A Buyer's Thoughts & How to Protect Yourself from Scam / Fraud

a) My order was delivered late (or never delivered).

b) The shipment didn't contain what I ordered.

c) The 'deal' that I ordered contained 15 items for the price of Rs.1500, but I received only 10 of them. The remaining items were never sent.

d) The products are of extremely poor quality; mostly not in working condition.

e) The cell phone I received was in used-condition; the picture folder already contained pictures.

These are some of the complaints that I read, when I shuffled through the various facebook pages of many online stores operating in Pakistan. I was amazed at how rapidly this nation has accepted online shopping and modified its buying behviour accordingly; especially, young people using facebook appear to be fascinated about the idea of making their purchases online.

Although it is good to see how, as a nation, we are open to new things and concepts, it is sad to witness how we have already started to misuse a technology, that can potentially be a game-changer if used in the correct manner. The world is rapidly tranforming from the 'brick & mortar' business model to the 'online' model, and many huge businesses have already shifted their main operations to the online mode. In Pakistan, however, even this business model is developing in such a manner that very few people will be ready to trust online stores in near future. After reading the above mentioned comments, at least, I am convinced to ask "are we already heading towards 'spoiling' a technology that can otherwise serve millions in coming times?"

Keeping in view the fact that 'sellers' are few and 'buyers' are many, it appears wise to advise buyers regarding online purchases. Buyers should keep the following points in mind:

1) If you are buying a super-duper-INEXPENSIVE-deal, use your logical mind. Is the deal 'too good to be true' ? If this is so, stop yourself from ordering. For example, if a person is selling an item for one-fifth the price that you can get from your local store, stop and think. If he is giving an extra item with the same deal, stop and think twice. If he is giving more than that, it is wise to consider buying from somewhere else.

2) Beware of 'fake' comments. Many sellers have a dedicated team to add 'good' comments below their deals on facebook.

3) Always check the reputation of sellers. You can google the name of seller for 'reviews' or look for other people's comments on their facebook page. Remember, competitors can also give negative comments about a seller, but, if you see that every other comment about a seller is negative, you HAVE to give due consideration to such comments.

4) Don't let the 'overly-INexpensive' deals blind you. It is always good to place a SMALL order in the start. If you are satisfied with your smaller first order with a seller, only then place a big order.

5) The sellers trick you into making 'HASTY' decisions. For example, they may tell you that 'only 4 deals' are left and you have to hurry to make your purchase. Trust me, even if you order and get your deal, the seller will continue telling others 'only 4 deals left'.

6) Pictures of super-deals often display a number of products with unclear images. In most cases, buyers are unable to see the products clearly. This is a clear advantage for the 'clever' sellers, who make sales without even showing their products to buyers.

7) Most online sellers make use of edited or photoshoped pictures of products. Edited pictures of products are too attractive and they decieve the buyer into believing that the product is too neat and good. Make sure you are not buying a product because it looks good in pictures.

8) Try to look for 'company names' on products. Many sellers tend to sell 'copies' of products claiming them to be 'original' products. If you are paying the price of a 'copy', then it is fine, but, if you are paying a high price for an 'original' product, make sure you get what you desired. Double-check the price of your desired product with other sellers to make sure you are not over-paying.

9) Lastly, some degree of dissatisfaction is inevitable, even in routine shopping. Always ask the seller about his physical address. Also, ask the seller, how and where to return a product in case you are dissatisfied or if it turns out to be faulty. Serious sellers will provide you this information, while, 'seasonal' sellers will try to convince you by other means like saying 'we sell thousands of orders every month' or 'we never had a complaint' etc.

Remember, only you can take care of your hard-earned money. If you give others a chance to befool you, they will never waste this opportunity.

Happy Online Shopping!!


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