Online shopping can get you some great vintage finds and amazing deals. But it’s important to make sure you’re doing it safely. And we can help with that! We’ve compiled the best tips and tricks for shopping safely online and we’ve got expert help from Lidy Baars, who owns the online store French Garden House.
Shopping Safely On Platforms Like eBay, Etsy, and 1stDibs
1.Read the reviews. If there are reviews available for your seller, read them! Keep an eye out for complaints or problems. If you see too many negative reviews or a low rating for your seller, consider looking elsewhere. Additionally, if a seller has no reviews, make sure you’re okay with taking the chance of buying something from them.
2. Ask questions if you have them. If you want to know more about shipping, or the history of the item, or the buying process, don’t be afraid to ask the seller. They should be happy to answer—if they’re not, consider it a red flag. Additionally, if you want more photos of the item, ask the seller for them.
“Be sure that you can see what you are buying. Make sure that any flaws in the piece (in the case of vintage antiques) are mentioned,” says Liddy Baars.
3. Make sure you understand the return policies. Before you purchase anything, read the store’s (or seller’s) return policy. Some may have a strict return policy, like only being able to make a return if the item is faulty or broken. It’s important to know these so that you can take the flexibility of the seller in mind before making a purchase.
4. Pay securely. Make sure you’re paying in a secure manner and your payment is encrypted. This can be checked if you see a padlock icon in the url along with ‘https:.’
Additionally, only pay via the seller’s or store’s website. If the seller asks you to send them your payment another way, like a money order, third party payment service or mailing a check—do not do it. This takes away the oversight and safety a store has over its sellers and puts you at risk for fraud or identity theft.
Baars agrees: “Only go ahead with the purchase if you are comfortable with the payment method.”
Shopping Safely Online With Independent Vendors
If you’re buying from an independent vendor online (such as a vintage seller’s own website) many of the same tips apply. However, it’s also important to take extra steps to make sure the store is reputable. Look up reviews of them online to see what other buyers think of them.
Or read through their About page to understand who they are, where they are located, and what their policies are. If they don’t have any of this information, consider buying elsewhere.
“I encourage buyers to call French Garden House to discuss any questions they have; that way, we get to know each other a little bit and the customer knows we are a real business with a genuine, working phone number,” says Baars.
Safely Attending Meetups for Craigslist and OfferUp
- Avoid meeting at your house. Because of safety reasons, try to meet in a public space, like a grocery store parking lot or a local park, instead of your house. This keeps you and the other party safe.
- Only meet in the daylight hours. Meeting in the dark has the potential for safety issues for both you and the other party.
- Only bring cash. Instead of bringing your check book or credit card, just bring cash. This prevents the seller from changing the price last minute and getting more money out of you.
- Bring someone else with you. By bringing a friend or a family member with you, you provide a third party witness should something go wrong.
- Make sure you have your cell phone! Not only is it important so that you can keep in contact with the other party, it’s also important to have to keep you safe if something goes wrong.
- Trust your instincts. Above all else, trust your instincts when you meet up to buy something. If you feel unsafe or something about the situation feels ‘off,’ politely back out of the meeting and leave. Your safety is always more important than a good deal.
Shopping safely online brings you the great vintage deals you want without sacrificing your own safety. Remembering these tips and tricks will make you a better informed and safer online consumer.