Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Buying online

Is it safe to buy life insurance online asks someone. The question might better be: is it safe to buy anything online?

If the law of averages is anything to go by, I'd say, Yes, of course it's safe. But then I've never had anything really serious go wrong with an online purchase. Occasionally I've received a book that wasn't the one I ordered, but the supplier has then turned round and given me the right one free of any further cost.

Dell Computers can be a bit difficult to deal with - for instance I'm waiting on an order I requested back at the beginning of last month. Dell usually comes through - even though they may take some time and a number of calls to people who speak English in such a way that it's hard to understand. I wouldn't buy from them again, (I've had to order printer cartridges because no one else can supply them) but to be fair, everything has eventually resolved itself with them.

I once ordered a DVD on Trade Me, and the seller turned out to be a bit dodgy, I think. He was basically waiting for the sale before he ordered the DVD from his supplier, which meant there were much longer times of waiting for goods to arrive than would be normal for a Trade Me transaction. His dodgy behaviour eventually bit him in the bum...he had so many people complaining that he stopped selling stuff altogether. It didn't help that he tended to accuse the buyer of causing problems (having a letterbox next to a shop, or across the road from a school??) rather than accepting that he was the problem.

Hmmm. I started off saying that on average it was okay to buy online. My stories are pretty mild by comparison with some I've heard. It's always worth dealing with a company that's reputable (Trade Me itself is far more reputable than the odd seller on there and they will sort out problems if needed) - I guess Dell is reputable, but their service aspect leaves something to be desired, and their speed of delivery is poor by comparison with most online companies. They also make it more difficult to get back to them than necessary.

As for life insurance, buying it online will be safe as long as you're sure the company you're dealing with is a legitimate life insurance company. There's the rub. If you don't know the company, check it out first - in some way or other. Don't rush in and take up a deal before you've got some further information. Pretty simple, really, but not everyone is patient enough to do it....

Incidentally, I've just remembered something that I did find odd when trying to buy some shoes online recently. Shoes? Yup. When we were in England in 2007, my shoes were wearing thin, and water was getting in. When we were passing through a town called Oswestry we came across an op shop (charity shop in the UK), and my wife spied a pair of Clark's shoes with Gore-tex waterproofing - the kind that are slightly more like a boot than a shoe. They'd been worn in, but that was all, and they were only £7.99. And they fitted like a glove.

I've worn these shoes ever since, and they're still going strong, except that they're starting to feel as though they're letting a little water in when it rainds. I'm not sure if they're actually doing it or whether it's just that my feet sometimes feel cold in them. (Not helped by the fact that during the Christmas holidays we went walking after a heavy shower and the water off the tall grass we were pushing through soaked my trousers and then drained off into my shoes. It took a couple of days to get them dry.)

Anyway, we decided that since we had a bit of cash in an English account, we'd buy another pair of these shoes before I finished work at the end of March. We found an equivalent pair online, Gore-tex and all, and went to buy them. Here's the rub: firstly Clark's wouldn't send shoes overseas. Okay, that was a bit of a pain, but we decided we could send them to one of our English rellies and they could forward them on. Went through the process of ordering them only to find that they didn't accept credit cards unless your home address was in the UK! That is extraordinary, particularly as we have a credit card that comes from a bank located in London.

Finally we had to direct credit money to our rellies so they could order and pay for the shoes. That seemed ridiculous, since Clark's is a well-established company, is very visible on the Internet, and advertises to all and sundry. Except that 'all and sundry' only includes citizens of the British Isles.

Occasionally I've come across American companies that are like this - although they're becoming a dying breed, thank goodness - but I've never found an English one supplying only to those inside its borders. Anyway, the shoes are here, they fit very well, and I'm gradually wearing them in. Hopefully they'll last as long as they last pair...!
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