With only 17 shopping days left and finals breathing down your neck some students and faculty may not have had time to finish their Christmas shopping. If fighting the crowded malls, hunting for parking places and dealing with crabby salespeople is not your idea of enjoying the precious few moments before Christmas, online shopping maybe the answer for you.
Last year holiday shoppers spent an estimated $1 million shopping online. This year that amount is expected to double. But shopping online can be as frustrating as heading for the mall if you’re not familiar with favorite store sites. It also, can be less festive and leave you with a feeling of “BAH-HUMBUG!” Instead of the sweet feeling of “Peace on Earth Good Will Toward Men.” So I’ve complied a guide to make your online shopping experience efficient, festive, and fun. Your gifts will arrive at the door of your special someone, wrapped and with plenty of time to look pretty under the tree. (If you finish your ordering before Dec. 14)
Ambiance! You’ll need to have RealPlayer downloaded and installed. Don’t worry it’s free! www.real.com
While it is downloading, light a scented Christmas candle, turn on the Christmas lights on the tree or around your dorm window, and prepare a small plate of Christmas treats with your favorite holiday cheer. Now, select your favorite Christmas music from this web site.
www.broadcast.com (when playing stream line music be sure to turn off the midi in the volume controls for better sound quality.)
Make a list and check it twice! Shopping on the Internet requires discipline! Remember we’re here to shop for Christmas. If you see a site that interests you don’t go there! Simply bookmark it so you can reference it later, after finals!
The key to efficient shopping is planning so take few minutes to make a shopping list using your Word program. Be sure to list one or two things(be specific) that you think would make a good gift for each person and how much you plan to spend on their gift. This list will make your shopping much faster and help you from over spending this year.
Make sure you have your credit card handy What? You’re worried about giving your credit card number out over the Internet? Here’s a list of tips from the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.
If the merchant is not a familiar name then get their phone number and address and check with the BBB www.bbb.org
Check out their return, refund and shipping policies before placing the order.
Never give out your Internet passwords. When creating a password do not use personal information like phone numbers, addresses, birth date or Social Security numbers. And never use the same password for other sites or accounts.
Pay attention to the Uniform Resource Locator to ensure you’re dealing with the right company.
Always print out a copy of your order with the confirmation number for your records.
Know your rights. The same laws that protect you when you shop by phone or mail protect you in cyberspace.
Your credit card purchase is protected under the Credit Fair Billing Act. If you’re not comfortable putting your credit card number online, your can fax it or use the company’s 800 number.
Only use sites using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). It is an encryption technology that works with Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer , and AOL so that unauthorized snoopers can’t read the information being sent.
Check to see if the company’s e-mail address domain is a free e-mail address, like @netaddress, @hotmail, or @juno. Those addresses create a firewall and you can never really be sure who the merchant really is.
Now you’re ready to shop!
Cyberspace is one big endless mall and getting to where you want to go quickly can take some time unless you are familiar with some stores already. To speed things up for you, I have provided a directory of some of the most user-friendly sites on the Internet. This should help you get on and off the net as quickly as possible, so you can get back to your studies for finals, or out to the Christmas party on time!
shoppingspot.com Here you can find what the “Hot buys” are and which stores are reliable and inexpensive. Be sure to check out the coupons!
If your not sure which brand you should buy take a few minutes to read the product review.
Your best bet is to stick with familiar companies. If you still can’t find what your looking for try running a search for the company and the model or name of the product. If that doesn’t work start looking through catalog listings. You might pay a few dollars more but at this late date you can’t afford for your gifts to not show up!
Here are some of my favorites:
The Gap www.gap.com
Technology and Books
Be sure to shop for office supplies here. You get 80% off by shopping through e-way just because you’re a student at BYU.
Toys & Houswares
Toys R Us
When your out of time and ready to windup those last few gifts, go for a gift certificate.
Blue Mountain Cards is your final stop. Now that your shopping is finished, send a quick Christmas card out to all your friends and family to let them know that you were thinking about them. Now, go hit the books!