Ultimate Guide: Online shopping problems and costs
- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 19 August 2010
The Ultimate Guide: Shopping for bicycles and gear online is a multipart report with tips, trends and analysis of the Australian Market. You can download the ebook version. This part looks at online shopping issues, problems and costs.
Online shopping issues, problems and costs
The survey statistics show that 42% of participants would not purchase a bicycle online, it is risky for consumers to purchase an item in which a good fit or sizing is critical. Goods can usually only be returned and exchanged in original condition and in many cases, the buyer is responsible for the cost of return shipping which adds to the risk and may negate the savings of purchasing online. The most common problems that customers face when purchasing online include the delivery of the wrong items, incorrect size or specifications and receiving items that are not as expected. When the wrong items are delivered or the specifications do not match the information online, the retailer is then usually responsible for return shipping.
When receiving a delivery, carefully check the packaging and if necessary take photos and ensure that all contents are in perfect order. Problems with the delivery should be reported immediately and if applicable, recorded with the courier or post staff. If items are noticeably damaged, then avoid further unpacking and take photos as documentation.
Customs charges have already been discussed. Other potential costs that may be charged when purchasing online include:
- Currency exchange rates / fees
- Bank Fees
- Clearing Agent – responsible for processing items held up by Customs
In addition, compared with a LBS purchase you may be liable for the costs of return shipping.
Warranty and Guarantee
The product warranty or guarantee may be void when purchasing from overseas or difficult to redeem. The customer may be responsible for the return shipping costs.
In most cases, the local importer of the brand has no responsibility to honor a warranty or guarantee for goods purchased overseas, nor to provide support, however in some situations they may take on the responsibility at their own cost.
Be aware that some items ordered from overseas may not pass the Australian Safety Standards which means that they can be potentially dangerous or in the case of an accident there may be consequences in terms of legal liability.
Service, Support and Assembly
Sometimes when purchasing a new bike from an LBS, they will include the first service for free and lower subsequent service charges and provide discounts for accessories and gear. LBS’s may be reluctant to service or build bicycles or gear purchased online as well as be less likely to offer savings or provide helpful advice if you run into problems assembling or servicing your bicycle or gear. The majority of Australian bicycle retailers are professional when it comes to assembling and servicing bicycles and parts. The premium that a consumer may pay for a bicycle or parts and gear at the LBS can be well worth the investment when considering the benefits and services of an LBS.
Summary of shopping online
Online shopping can mean saving money and access to a broader range of items and brands. The survey results show that while 63% of participants are prepared to pay between 5% and 20% more (than online prices) for the advantage of buying at the LBS, roughly the same amount estimate that they save between 20% and 50% when purchasing online.
Cost savings are a big motivation for the consumer. Big enough that they forfeit the service and support offered by an LBS and accepts the risks involved with purchasing online.
The clever shopper knows the advantages and disadvantages of shopping online and shopping with their LBS.
This is article is from The Ultimate Guide: Shopping for bicycles and gear online. You can download the entire ebook (free) from here.
You can discuss this article and the ebook in the Australian Cycling Forums.