The Worst Thing About Shopping Online.

I love to shop online. I don’t do it often, but when I do I take my time to hunt for exactly what I want, at exactly the right price. And so far it has paid off for me. Over the years I’ve snapped up some really great deals. A power supply for my PC which should have caught me for 100 Euro came in to my hands for only 35 Euro. Brand new, and in a sealed box. Or the complete Dr. Seuss collection for only 35 Euro, when the cheapest I’d previously found it in my local bookshops was almost 8 Euro per book, and there’s a lot of books in that collection.

But as rewarding an experience as it can be to find that great deal, there is one aspect of online shopping, especially on Amazon, and before that Ebay that drives me nuts. That turns me completely, and utterly monkey-poo. Fake product images.

There are people who will advertise one thing, say a replacement attachment for a vacuüm cleaner. Everything seems legit, the description is right, and the image matches. But when you open your delivery what do you find? A much lower spec item, which in no way resembles the picture of the item you ordered. And guess what? It’ll cost you more than the item price in postage to return it!

I really, truly hate this.

Now I have to admit that I have been pretty lucky in this regard. So far in about four years of online shopping, yes I was a late arrival to the realms of shopping for nice things from the comfort of my bed, I’ve only been stung this way twice. But boy did both of them hurt.

The first time there was this beautiful latex hood, a deep purple color, with gorgeous plaited strands of a thicker latex making up two ponytails. I just had to have it. This being back in the days before I’d realised that the reason I couldn’t breathe when I wore latex hoods was not in fact sheer excitement, rather it was more than a touch of an allergy. I’d asked a friend to use their credit card to buy it, and paid them the money in cash. Again this was through Ebay. Bit of a mistake that. What got in the door, wasn’t so much purple as flesh-colored, and wasn’t so much latex as badly stitched spandex.

The second time I had ordered a dozen mid-range aluminium arrows for my longbow. I’d pretty much destroyed my earlier ones by missing the target, and doing my best to bury them in the concrete wall behind it. I made the mistake of ordering them from a certain Ebay seller. To say the least what I received in the mail was a let down. Half a dozen, bad quality fibreglass arrow shafts, with no tips, or feathers.

Both sellers claimed to have mistakenly posted the wrong item. Both sellers were lying through their teeth, as I later discovered that they both had terrible reputations for just these sorts of bait, and switch tactics.

This topic comes up because, funnily enough, I today ordered a replacement part for my vacuüm cleaner. Again I’m in that place where I have to put my trust in the integrity of someone who I wouldn’t know if I ran them over in the street. And frankly it’s unnerving. I don’t have very much spare cash at the best of times, and these are far from the best of times. So those 12 Euro are a big deal for me, even though I do really need that part, I’m sick of the clumps of dog hair, and the dust bunnies that are large enough that they’ve grown their own legs, and developed their own culture. But as I clicked the “Buy” button on Amazon I had that flickering moment of doubt.

I truly hate not being able to trust people to be honorable, even more than I hate wasting money.

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