December 4, 2002
Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
GENERAL OFFERS ADVICE FOR
ONLINE HOLIDAY SHOPPERS
more people than ever expected to purchase holiday gifts online
this year, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., offered advice
for Maryland consumers shopping for gifts on the Internet.
online can be very convenientjust use a little caution,"
said Attorney General Curran. "Know who you're dealing with.
Check the total price before paying, find out what the return policy
is, and pay by credit card."
from consumers about Internet transactions include difficulties
getting in touch with the company when merchandise doesnt
arrive or is defective, unexpected high shipping charges, and finding
out too late that no refunds are given.
offers these tips to consumers:
- Order from companies you know to be legitimate. Be wary of unfamiliar
Web sites that appear in unsolicited e-mails sent to you.
- Dont buy from online businesses that dont provide an
address or telephone number you can use if you have a problem.
- Check how much the shipping charge will add to the advertised price
of an item. Don't assume the seller will choose the least expensive
- Check the promised delivery date. Order as early as you can to ensure
delivery in time. By federal law, companies must ship items by the
date they promise, or if no delivery time is stated, within 30 days
after the order date. If the seller can't ship the item within that
time, the seller must notify the buyer, give the buyer a chance
to cancel the order and send a full refund if the buyer chooses
- Find out what the return policy is. Some online businesses charge
high shipping and handling fees or impose restocking fees on returns.
- Look for information about warranties on electronics or appliances.
Read the warranty before you buy to help you understand what protection
you'll get should something go wrong. If a copy of the warranty
is available online, print it out when you make your purchase and
keep it with your records.
- Pay with a credit card. If a product doesn't arrive or you believe
it was misrepresented, you can dispute the charge through your credit
- Keep a record of your purchase by printing a copy of the Web page
advertising the item, the completed order form, and any confirmation
you receive by e-mail.
see if the business will share or sell your personal information
with other businesses, and whether you can "opt out" of
such sharing. Don't give any more information about yourself than
is necessary to process the transaction.
- If you pay by credit card, review your statement later to be sure
you were charged what you agreed to pay.
Curran cautioned against buying toys online. "In many cases
you cannot see the warning labels or inspect the toy for choking
hazards or other dangers to young children when shopping online.
While it may be easier to shop online, it is certainly safer to
shop for toys the old fashioned way--in retail stores."
who have a problem with an Internet purchase can call the Attorney
General's Consumer Protection Division hotline for assistance, at