The Art of Buying Safely Online

Why do you want to buy online?

You would like to buy online because:

Convenience

  • You do not have to ride to the mall.
  • You do not have to drive around ten blocks to find a parking place.
  • You do not have to jostle around with the crowds in the mall.
  • You do not want anyone following your every move with a hawk’s eye.
  • You do not want some one to convince you into buying, something that you do not need.

Well, I think they are good enough reasons why you would like to get onto the net and go buy something online.

Standard Features of online malls
Most of them are visitor friendly. Let us look at one such Online eMall I came across.

Let us now see how these Online eMall websites are designed.  This is a generic website.  Of course you understand that this site does not exist and it is only for demonstration purposes I am mentioning it here.  Let us call it simply – Online eMall.

The customer-friendly Online eMall website is cleanly laid out. The website name is very clearly displayed on the home page.

A key feature of this Online eMall is, it  offers franchises.  Normally, the franchise’s name appears to your left, right beneath the Online eMall profile. Then you have the navigation bar that indicates the e-franchise home, orders tracking and a tab to invite friends to the site.

Then you see those small folder icons: The name of the folders indicate the contents and within brackets the number of items too. For example the first folder is Beauty and Personal Care and it is displaying 43. When you click on the folder, the column to it’s right displays all those items that fall under the “Beauty and Personal Care” category. Each item has a small picture of the product / service with pricing, availability and probable shipping time.

So, all the visitor has to do is click on the folder on the left, view items that appear on the right, add her choice to the shopping cart, fill the forms and pay, to have them delivered at her doorstep. But before she confirms the order, it is up to her to make doubly sure that she is ordering exactly what she expects.

When the shopping season approaches, the Online eMall  owners will update the site and announce really amazing products and services to it’s customers, at great prices.

Phishing
OK, so what makes you think it is safe to buy online? Haven’t you heard of those who collect your credit details and siphon off monies without you ever knowing about it?

Yes, I have heard about that and read about it too. But then there are always those elements around. All you have to do is take a few precautions and you are better off.

Now let’s see what those precautions are:

FAQ’s
Every online shopping mall would have a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) and a privacy policy. Read them both carefully and if you are convinced that it is a good site and is taking care of your interests go ahead and do your shopping.

Warranties and Guarantees
Check if the the site is offering warranties and or guarantees on the products and services they are offering before you make your purchase decision.

Postal Address
You must take care to see if the postal address of the site is given on the web site. If it is not there, then their intentions are in doubt and I advise you not to do business with them.

Cash
There may be occasions that the company or any individual you are buying from asks for cash, say no. Tell them that you would prefer to pay with your credit card. That way you are protecting yourself from avoidable fraudulant transactions.

Help and Support
There are genuine sellers and are helpful. They would be more than happy to help you with your doubts and queries that you might have. Some of these sites do have a live chat service where you get instant answers. Some of them have Feedback forms for their customers and they always write you back about your concerns.

Search and Research
Use the search engines to learn about the online shopping mall that you are trying to buy from. This would help you learn more about them and you can make a buying decision based on that.

Reviews
If there are reviews left by customers read them. It would give you a better insight about this online shopping mall and how they go about treating their customers.

Return Policy
You should also make sure what their Return Policy is, so that you know exactly what to expect.

RESOURCES
There is this excellent site that tells you how to protect yourself from online phishing scams. Please click here to visit the site.

Happy Shopping!

Note:
This article was first published elsewhere on August 6, 2009 and the site is no more available.  Hence I am posting it here again.

https://web.archive.org/web/20101123150210/http://rightword.blogsome.com

Paste Email Plus, a Mozilla Firefox Add-on Helps Reduce Repeated Stress Injury (RSI)

Paste Email Plus is a Mozilla Firefox add-on and that is one more reason why I like Firefox browser.  You can customize Firefox to your heart’s content. You think of a feature that you are missing in this browser and go and dig in to the add-ons or  extensions or plug-ins and I am sure you will be find one that meets your need.

Let me tell you about Paste Email Plus now.  Paste Email Plus is another beautiful add-on for Firefox, that would help you browse the net with fewer keystrokes and reduce the chances of potential RSI (RSI btw means Repeated Stress Injury).  Chuck Baker, the guy who created this wonderful add-on calls it the Paste Email Plus.

Paste Email Plus

Paste Email Plus store email address,passwords, & any other text to type frequently

Let me tell you where you can use Paste Email Plus and how it would help you reduce those mundane, boring, repetitive tasks of filling in all those forms.

Come to think of it, this cute little add-on can be used anywhere, when you have a lots of copying and pasting to do. Let me give you a few examples.

A typical example is a sign-up form, without which you cannot log into a site. Generally there are a few fields like user name, email id, password. More often than not some of them ask you to enter data at least twice, either your user name or your email id. You are supposed to fill them in. Imagine if someone is visiting on an average five sites a day she has to enter at least all those details 5 times.

For an individual who has more than two accounts, it would be entering the user name twice and then again the password twice. Let us presume that the user name is eight letters – abcdefgh and the password / or as some sites call it the pass phrase is again 9 characters – for e.g.: 123456789 and let us further presume that both these are made up of alphanumeric characters. The user name in this case is a1b2c3d4 and password is e5f6g7h8i, let us calculate the number of key strokes that are involved. That would be eight characters for the user name. If you use the tab button to jump the cursor into the next field that is the password that is one more stroke there. Else you would click the mouse to move the cursor into the password field and leave it there to use the key board to input the 9 characters.

Keystrokes to enter into the user name       =    8
Keystroke to hit the tab                                       =    1

Keystrokes to enter the password                  =   9

Keystroke to highlight or hit the enter key =   1

Total number of Keystrokes                              = 18

When you are using the Paste Email Plus add on, you can accomplish all these in 8 strokes.  Here is the break up:

Paste Email Plus Context Menu helps you copy & paste from a text file

Move to the Login text field   = 1
Right click for Context menu = 1
Select email Paste                       = 1
Tab or Mouse cursor = 1
Password Field                            = 1
Hit enter or Tab to Enter = 1
and hit                                             = 1
Total number of keystrokes  = 7

So how many keystrokes are you saving? Thanks to Paste Email Plus 11 key strokes in all, without taking into count all those innumerable times when you begin at the beginning when you input one wrong character and system asks you to repeat the whole process right from the first character.

No worries about the safety either – because with Paste Email Plus you can encrypt the password when you first key in your user name and the password.  I am yet to try this though.

So there it is folks! Paste Email Plus, one of those cute and nifty add-ons that makes your surfing on the net much easier and smoother. There is one more nifty feature with Paste Email Plus.  You can save all your data in a text file on a local drive on your machine and the best part is you can

Go and try Paste Email Plus. You can read more about it from Chuck himself and download it here.  Chuck is the same guy who gave us the add on FEBE that helps us save our Firefox profile.

You can download your Mozilla Firefox here and look get more add-ons here.

How to: Customize your signature in GMail

Yes.  You can now customize your signature in GMail.  This is a feature that I had been waiting for GMail to introduce.  There were times when I wanted to introduce my services with a few links to content to my clients on Elance, Guru and oDesk, the freelance sites where I am active. One of those Firefox addons that I used was Wisestamp.  The problem with it was if people were accessing mails through their Outlook, Evolution or Mozilla’s Thunderbird or other mail clients they were unable to read my custom signatures.  Wisestamp displays my latest posts when I added my RSS feed to it.

Tip: How to customize your GMail Signature

Customize your GMail signature

You can customize your GMail signatures now.

Click on the image to view large

All you have to do is log into your GMail account (Created an account here if you do not have one) and login.  Click on settings tab that you find on your right top hand side.  There under the general tab, scroll down and you will find the Signature box. Now you will see a rich text editor.  Enter the text like your name, a designation with other contact details.  You can format the text, add links and insert images to add more value to your signatures.

Images You cannot add images from your desktop.  However you can add images from the web.  In case you want to add a logo or a specific picture, I suggest that you upload to your Picasa or Flickr account.  Add tags to the image.  Copy the link to the image and add it in the Web Address URL box that pops up when you click on the insert image icon.  If the image is small and the URL you entered is correct, it shows up almost immediately.  Save your settings.  Now click on the compose mail link and in your mail composing box, you should be able to see your signature in all its glory.  To edit it, you need to go to settings and tweak it.

In case you already have multiple custom addresses, you can create a unique signature for each address.