5 Disadvantages to Shopping Online (And the Remedies)

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

There was a time when I swore I would never ever shop online. Then the pandemic happened. But even before that, I moved to a smaller city that didn’t have the conveniences of Seattle or Bellingham, Washington or good public transportation so I suffered through the perils of digital shopping.

Although I recall my childhood when my family ordered through catalogues and then waited for our goods to show up. Then we picked them up at a shop. Back then, we were smart and used measuring tapes prior to ordering clothing or my mom ordered the clothing one size larger because we would grow into it. This didn’t stop me from looking like an extra for the musical Annie.

Fast forward to the digital age. I’m in my 50s now so I’m more likely to shrink in size if I don’t take enough calcium and certainly with my plant-based and restrictive diet, I’m not going to expand in size. Therefor I want the clothing I order to fit snuggly, especially if I need to wear ski pants over it (Yep, I moved to the frozen Northeast).

Without going off on any more tangents, let’s get back to the topic which is getting what you ordered when you place your order online.

Third-Party Vendors

Okay, you’ve been shopping on Amazon for years (personally, I stay clear of Amazon) so you’ve already experienced buying from third-party vendors. However, you might not be so fortunate if you order from Home Depot’s website, for example. I needed a mattress cover so I hopped on over to Home Depot’s site and I thought I ordered a cotton blend full-mattress encasement. But when the package showed up, the mattress cover was made from 100 percent polyester and another fake fiber. I thought this was a mistake on the warehouse part. But no, there was no warehouse. The customer service representative (third one I spoke with) told me about the third-party vendor who sent me the same polyester mattress cover swearing that it was made of cotton.

My impression that this vendor had knock-off mattress encasement (covers) in his garage. He uploaded a photo of a different product then the one he sent out. Then he gas lit me and the people at Home Depot. I asked for a refund and I’ll never shop on Home Depot’s website again due to my time being wasted, the gaslighting part, and all the charges and credits going through my bank account. Sorry, but the bank doesn’t need those red flags.

Remedy: Ask if the online site’s items are sold through third-party vendors. Granted, most of the vendors are honest similar to Etsy but there are the scammers too. Decide if you want to take a chance with a third-party vendor. (BTW, I’ve never had problems with the Etsy vendors).

Wrong Size or Bad Fit

I miss the days when I could waltz into a clothing store and spend hours in the dressing room finding the perfect fit. Remember, ladies, when you once went shopping with your friends and spent an afternoon preening in front of store mirrors? You can still shop that way if you head to a mall (the ones that haven’t closed down) or to department store. But mostly, people are purchasing clothing online, including me.

I currently live in rural Pennsylvania where even the thrift store doesn’t have a dressing room. Well, it’s in a church building. If I need to purchase new clothing, it’s a 20 mile bus ride to a shopping mall (which I avoid), Walmart (I also avoid), or I can shop online. This means that I can order a small that fits like a medium or an extra small. Or the item I order looks nothing like it did in the photograph when it arrives.

That’s the problem with ordering from catalogues with models and good lighting. Even store dressing rooms don’t have good lighting, or didn’t used to. But you will become less disappointed when you purchase your clothing off a rack and can feel the fibers and try the clothing on. If it doesn’t fit, you don’t purchase it and you don’t have the hassle of a UPS return.

Remedy: Buy a measuring tape and measure the heck out of yourself. Keep your measurements in a notebook so you know what size to order when you shop from a catalogue or website shop. Also, call the customer service help and ask about size and fitting. Some clothing sites provide charts, but this still isn’t helpful when you’re ordering a bra or a pair of shoes.

They Send You a Returned Item (used item)

I had this happen with Columbia Sportswear. I ordered an expensive parka that was on sale. When it arrived it smelled strongly of laundry detergent. I called and asked why a brand new jacket smelled like Tide. It looked new. It had its tags still on it. The customer support told me that the jacket had been washed by a customer and it was a return.

Remedy: If you have allergies or are sensitive to fragrances order by phone and let the customer service person know that you suffer from allergies so you don’t want a returned item sent to you. Chances are they won’t be able to do anything about this situation but if they get enough calls like this, they’ll change their policy (such as washing the returned item in fragrance-free natural detergent). Or the company can use ultraviolent light to disinfect returned items.

You Accidentally Ordered the Wrong Product

This happens mainly when ordering food products, cleaning products, or supplements where reading a label is involved. Depending on the size of your device, you might not be able to get clear details of the labels of the products. Some companies use the same packaging for their entire line of products such as NOW supplements which all have the same orange labels with write text. In fact, this is one of the companies in which I order the wrong product.

Recently, through the Thrive Markets site, I thought I was ordering laundry pods and instead I ordered laundry powder (which pissed me off). I couldn’t read the small type on my computer screen. I might be wrong but the packaging for the pods and the powder looked the same.

Remedy: Pay attention to details of the product. Don’t order when you’re in a rush or when your eyes are tired. Read through the description of the product and the other details before clicking on the item. Then when you completed your order double check everything in your cart before you give your payment and shipping details. Once you placed that order you won’t be able to fix your errors.

The days of ordering from seasonal catalogues are nearly over, except for the seniors who still shop this way (such as my mother). And for those people who prefer shopping malls, many of these malls have shuttered across the US. Personally, I don’t care for crowded stores and prefer the boutiques and regular storefronts. However, online shopping can be successful when common sense and diligence are applied. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always the consignment shops and thrift stores for clothing, if you don’t mind wearing used clothing that smells like Tide or Febreze.

Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR on Pexels.com

I guess it’s kind of funny when the clothing shows up two-sizes too large and reminds me of those childhood days when clothing engulfed me because my mother thought I would grow into it. That never did happen until the clothing went out of fashion. I grew slowly and despite Viking blood (I also have Hispanic and Pacific Islander blood), I never grew into the tall person those clothes were intended. But, dang, I’m off topic again.

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