This post is about how to make the logistics of online transaction as smooth as possible – it’s not about how to select an trustworthy online vendor and how to select an item.
Online transactions are done between two parties who likely never have spoken with each other and never met each other. Once you select an item to buy from a vendor, here is what we suggest you do to make the transaction as smooth as possible:
1. Make payment promptly so that your order can be shipped right away.
Paypal is the most popular way for online transaction. The seller wont’ see your bank or credit card details through Paypal transaction. We suggest you link a credit card to your Paypal account – this way when you make a payment, it will be instant. If the funds are drawn from your bank account, sometimes it could take weeks to clear the payment into the seller’s account then the seller cannot ship your order until the payment is cleared.
Linking a credit card to Paypal doesn’t really add any extra risk to the buyer. It’s not like Paypal will take funds from you whenever they want – it’s just your commitment to make payment, which is backed by your credit card issuing bank. Some people say they hate Paypal due to an unpleasant transaction in the past, we as a merchant find that Paypal actually act exactly the same way as Visa or MasterCard merchant gateway. When there is a dispute between buyer and seller, the matter is solved the same way by Paypal as Visa or Mastercard.
If you want your order to be shipped promptly, link a credit card with sufficient limit to your Paypal account and allow payment to be processed instantly. Some credit card even offer extended warranty on your purchase depending on the card’s features.
2. Provide shipping address in writing to avoid error.
If you place an order over the phone and made payment over the phone, likely you will give your shipping address over the phone at the same time. But it’s recommended to follow up with an email with the seller to provide your exact shipping address – just in case the address taken over the phone has any typo or error. Put it in writing is double security for smooth shipping. If you get a payment receipt from the seller via email, check the address immediately to make sure it’s 100% correct.
3. Give your complete delivery information – including a real phone number!
We all do not like tele-marketing, but most online vendors do not sell your contact information to tele-marketers (We at Grant Fidelity definitely do not sell our mailing list to anyone!). But to have your order delivered to you smoothly, a phone number is always included in the shipping label in case the delivery courier needs to call you for arrangement. Leave a valid day time phone number in your order so that the courier can reach you during the day – the delivery company do not call people at after-business hours.
Many couriers, such as DHL in USA will call the recipient on the delivery day if the parcel requires signature. The auto message usually says “we will deliver your parcel today with signature required. If you are ok with us leaving the parcel at your door, please sign a note and put the note at your door etc…”. If you choose to do so, your parcel will be delivered at first attempt instead of the courier trying to get hold of someone at delivery address or ask you to pick up from a depot miles away.
4. If you live in rural area, let the seller know upfront.
Some sellers offer flat rate shipping but that usually doesn’t include out-of-area delivery. If your address falls into such a category, the seller will have to contact you for extra shipping surcharge – which will delay the parcel shipping until the surcharge is paid. You might as well inform the seller upfront so that your order can be completed promptly.
5. PO Box is not enough for delivery.
Most couriers such as UPS, FEDEX, DHL etc.. cannot deliver to PO box. You must provide a street address in your order. If this is different from your billing address, send an email or call the seller to explain such. Most vendors will accept such arrangement – you could also ask to ship your order to your work place so that someone will always be there to take delivery.
6. If you would like to receive a parcel by a specific date, communicate with the seller to make special arrangement.
Most vendors ship orders by Ground by default. Couriers do not guarantee arrival date on Ground shipping except providing an estimated delivery time. If you need a specific delivery date, likely there will be extra charges for such arrangement – if you don’t want to incur such charges, place your order early enough so that you can get the order delivered in time by Ground shipping.
7. If for some reason you think the seller didn’t fulfill your order as agreed, communicate first then take actions. Do not panic.
Sometimes we see buyers get panic because the parcel hasn’t arrived after a number of days. If the buyer starts a claim via Paypal, the order payment will be withheld by Paypal from the seller’s account and funds become inaccessible. When this happens without any communication from the buyer, seller will usually take immediate action to withhold the parcel even if it is in transit. This panic cycle could seriously delay your parcel arrival time and works against your initial intention of having your order delivered ASAP. So, communicate with the seller before taking a panic action!
My very personal recommendation is: if you cannot trust a seller, do not buy from that seller. There is no point to lose sleep over an online order and counting minutes for parcel arrival and constantly thinking the seller might have grabbed your money and disappeared.
8. Plan ahead plenty of time to avoid rush hours (season)!
From Nov to end of Dec, it’s the crazy shopping season – malls are packed with people and so are cyber world. If you place your order by Dec 5th, likely it will arrive in time for you to gift pack it and present it to your loved ones during holidays. This is the recommended holiday shipping timeline. If an order is placed after Dec 5th and if the parcel has to cross border going through customs, there is high chance that the order will be delayed due to volume increase at processing point.
Plus, when a parcel is shipped during the holiday rush season, it’s very likely the delivery guy is tired out by countless boxes and your precious purchase might get mis-handled, delivered to wrong address, dropped or even for the worst case lost. Claiming for insurance takes long long time and it won’t add joy to holidays. So, prepare ahead of time and order before Dec 5th – you will have a merry holiday season with all gifts arrive right on time.
Having said all the above, unexpected matters do happen. Communication is the key for solving problems. Do not start with assumptions – start with a fair discussion based on facts.
Hope all your online purchase is as pleasant as buying from your favorite neighbourhood store.
Rachel @ Grant Fidelity