Buyer beware while shopping online

I read David Colker’s Column One and chuckled. Not that I was amused that Colker unknowingly bought a fake pair of expensive headphones (although, my sense of frugality would balk at buying headphones that retailed for $79.99, no matter how great they are) — no, no, I’m just grateful in my pretty good track record in buying stuff online.

Even though online is such a huge part of my life, I am not really into buying things online. Books, music, sure, why not — those sort of things are not hard to buy since I don’t have to ingest them or put them on as I do clothes or shoes. More recently, online airfare, hotel bookings and car rentals have occupied a lot of my time (and bank account). But stuff like electronics? I’d rather go to Fry’s, as much as I hate going to Fry’s.

Big purchases I’ve made online include my iBook (from the Apple site, so I’m not sure that counts), my first mp3 player (a Creative Nomad, pictured to left), and a wireless router. The iBook arrived fine, but both the mp3 player and the wireless router had delivery problems. The mp3 player’s problem was that it wasn’t arriving soon enough — so I ended up going to the UPS plant in Baldwin Park to pick it up myself. The wireless router was delivered to my door when I lived in South Pasadena, where someone presumably came off the street and picked it up. I ended up fighting with the company I bought it from for about three months for a refund for non-delivery.

But stuff like shoes? Ech. I was explaining to someone the other night — instead of actually going to Zappo‘s or something, I like to check out inventory on sites that I know has a retail store nearby — like Target, Wal-Mart or JC Penneys. For shoes, I like Shoe Pavilion and Famous Footwear — I’ve found their websites to be great.

Photo lifted from Antique Radio Classified