By Johara Al Mogbel
Once upon a not very long time ago, the Internet was invented, and since humans have loved money since the creation of currency, they immediately looked for a way to profit off it. One of these ingenious ways was to enable people to sell off things no matter how strange they are, like cornflakes shaped in Ronald Reagan’s image. All that is done through a simple digital transaction.
It was an instant hit as people generally like buying things and are too lazy to go out and get them. However, as is the case with all wonderful creations, online shopping came with its own pitfalls and dangers. Here are a few do’s and don’ts I’ve learned over the years (and a few dozen of packages after.)
DO: Use a verified payment website like PayPal or escrow and a low limit credit card, especially when buying from an unknown website or seller. It’s easy as pie to make an account (easy as eating pie, mind you. Making pies is a whole other story.)
DON’T: Use your high limit credit card. This is overused information but I figure the hassles of canceling the charges or getting robbed are worth issuing the warning again.
DO: Compare prices between websites. Sometimes a dress you like on Bloomingdale’s will be on sale in Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue. Check prices between the sellers themselves on a marketplace websites like Etsy or Amazon’s marketplace, or between the same store specified for two different regions (like US Amazon or UK Amazon.)
DON’T: Stick to one website. Yes, Amazon or Overstock might have everything under the sun but that’s the best thing about shopping on the interwebs, you have so many choices.
DO: Find websites that offer free shipping to Saudi Arabia, like bookdepository.co.uk or Asos. Yes, I know. There’s still magic in the world. It’ll help you save a bit, if you don’t consider that extra bookshelf you have to put in now that free book shipping to KSA is a real thing. Also, do register your house for an official address at the Saudi Post. For a yearly subscription, they’ll deliver your packages straight at your door as soon as a package filters through. Less tiring and you get a mailman! With a mail truck! You’re welcome.
DON’T: Always stick to shipping to Saudi Arabia, even if the store offers it. Some websites (like Neiman Marcus) immediately add an unexplainable SR 200 surplus to the prices when you switch to the KSA-oriented website. Sometimes it’s just cheaper to ship to a post office box. Yes, I know, shipping is the devil’s spawn.
DO: Be careful. Again, make sure the online marketplace you’re using, like Aliexpress for example, insists on Escrow or PayPal being used in your transaction.
DON’T: Be afraid to wander into the world of Chinese resellers. Most of the new Saudi Instagram clothing home businesses are buying directly from China at low prices and then raising their selling prices.
DO: Wait until the last possible minute, and then bid. Make sure your browser isn’t freezing up and your Internet connection isn’t interrupted, because this will be a fight to the death, mark my words. (I’m looking straight at you, Wi-Fi that lost me the perfectly priced Judith Leiber. Argh.)
DON’T: Bid on auction items if there’s a few days left till its end. That just drives the bid up you’ll almost always be outbid (probably by me if it was that 12-pound Praktika Nova).