How to Avoid Bad Online Shopping
Have you ever opened a package and found that the sturdy and beautiful item you ordered is the thickness of tissue paper or much larger (or smaller) than it looked online? We’ve got a few tips to help you make sure that what you get won’t disappoint you – whether you’re buying it as a gift or for yourself.
Look for a lighter color
This great tip comes from Reddit, where one smart shopper advises buying dark-colored shoes, bags, and clothing while looking for lighter colors.
Seams, texture, material and other details are not always clearly visible in photographs of black, brown, dark gray or dark blue items. But if the same backpack is, say, available in light gray or beige, a photo can give more information about how it was made.
This is where you realize that part of the bag is made of fabric, and you thought it was leather, or that it only had a one-way zipper, and you expected it to be with two zippers. On clothing, you may notice seams in odd places or missing pockets where you expect them to.
Take measurements and check specifications
Buying clothes for someone else can be risky if you need to know the specific size and fit of the item. But if you have these measurements, or if you can compare yourself or a family member to the same size, be sure to use the size chart.
This also applies to non-clothing items. Especially if you think you’re getting something for a good price, measure yourself to make sure the sizes fit your expectations. We’ve all seen these pictures from people who didn’t realize they were buying dollhouse furniture, but it can happen to other items as well. For example, I once bought very small pancakes to put on an Olympic bar, and then fell down the comparative shopping rabbit hole. I didn’t realize until the package arrived that the plates had a 1″ hole instead of 2″ and didn’t fit my barbell.
So check the dimensions before buying. For example, if you are shopping for doll clothes, there is a big difference between 18″ doll clothes and 14″ doll clothes. For some items, you can even draw the measurements on a piece of paper or cardboard to make sure they fit. (I did this when I bought phones.)
Look at resale sites to see how it is worn.
The photos on the store’s website give you a better idea of the item. Someone chose the most flattering angles and may have stuffed or flattened her shape. If it’s a wearable item, the model’s body type can also skew your idea of what it would look like in real life.
Luckily, there are other ways to see what an item actually looks like. Some shopping sites allow buyers to upload photos or review videos, but these are usually new items that have just been unpacked.
For a more honest look, check out places where people sell neatly used items, like Poshmark. If something fades, wears, or scratches easily, you’ll see evidence of it. It can also help you make an informed decision about whether or not you really want to buy the item, rather than being surprised by how it’s packaged or photographed.
Redditor r/MakeupRehab reported that they are checking used lists of expensive cosmetics to see if they like them after seeing them ruined. “I rarely happily buy it after,” they note. If you’re tempted to buy something for yourself while shopping for gifts, this can be a good way to temper that excitement.