DormSmart Living Blog: Safe Online Shopping Tips for College Bound Students

April 27, 2017

Safe Online Shopping Tips for College Bound Students



It's that time of year again... time to shop for dorm supplies, so Team DormSmart thought we'd give you a few tips for safe online dorm shopping...read on!

Does the online dorm store provide...
  • Contact information including a phone number. If you call, can you get a person on the phone? We all get busy during dorm shopping season, so it's alright if you have to leave a message but did you get a return phone call or email in a reasonable amount of time?
  • Clearly written store policies?
  • True manufacturer information (i.e. product specifications, warranty information, and brand) versus a store who provides a false brand. In other words, what will the label say when you receive the product? Who is providing the warranty?
  • A secure payment option such as PayPal, Google Checkout, Amazon Checkout...

Beware of Spam URLS...

Make sure you are shopping on an actual online store versus a spam URL (a URL that redirects you to another website).We've all seen them lately; you think you are actually on an online retail shopping site or legitimate review site then realize the contact information is lacking or it redirects you to another site... not cool! Run your antivirus software after you have visited one of these spam URLS.

How to deal with Annoying Cookies / Ads...

If you recently visited an online store then started seeing their ads popping up EVERYWHERE, update and run your antivirus software... delete your cookies. You may have a tracking cookie on your system that keeps triggering the ads.

Avoid the Negative Ninny... 

We are all about giving accurate information to student shoppers. We make fact based product comparisons all the time. However, if you come across a retailer who promotes their products by ranting ... making outrageous negative statements about other retailers and their products to scare you into a purchase, you may want to keep shopping! Avoid the negative ninny, find a retailer who promotes quality dorm products based on facts about those products (how they will benefit you) instead of a retailer who promotes their products based on scare tactics using negative advertising.

How to effectively use major search engines shopping feeds when researching dorm supplies...

We have recently noticed a wave of online retailers who are listing their products in different marketplaces, even using different skus or brand names... just to get a sale. The problem for shoppers occurs when each marketplace uploads these same products to a major search engine's shopping feed.  All the results are for the same product by the same retailer being advertised in different marketplaces using different brands, product skus, or price points. These retailers do this to saturate the major shopping engine results with their product in hopes of getting the sale. Unfortunately, this adversely impacts a shoppers ability to choose the best product for them. Our recommendation is to scan through several pages of each shopping engines search results to find the best product for you ... at least until such time technology can catch up with these offenders.

Out of business...

Lastly, there is a new wave of online retail sites where the original retail entity has gone out of business and someone has purchased certain assets such as the brand and domain name ... It is not the same retailer. This does not mean that it is a bad shopping site. However, dorm shoppers should not confuse the previous store's reputation with that of the new website and brand owner. It's an ingenious way to capitalize on the previous owner's reputation and misfortune. Quite frankly, it's misleading to consumers.
What can you do? Review the store policies (frequently asked questions, help section...) to see if they are no longer honoring gift certificates, store credit cards, or orders made prior to a certain date. If you are a shopper who uses customer reviews, focus on reviews about that retailer written after the date they acquired the website and brand (the date they began honoring orders). If all else fails, call the retailer and talk with them to see if you feel comfortable making the purchase.
    Have a safe and fun dorm shopping season and live dorm smart! Always remember, when in doubt about whether or not a product is safe or acceptable for your campus dorm room, call your university housing office before investing in your dorm supplies!

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