Online shopping doesn’t always meet expectations

Darren Walker reading his mini textbook ordered online. (Darren Walker)
Darren Walker reads the textbook he ordered online, which ended up being a mini version of the book. (Darren Walker)

The possibilities of online orders are endless; however, the ease of online shopping is often tainted by errors.

Items ordered online can be incorrectly sized or even inaccurately colored. Consumers have high expectations that are sometimes let down by the reality of shopping on the web.

BYU student Darren Walker experienced an online shopping calamity when ordering the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” for a class.

“I got what I thought was a good deal — a $4 book,” Walker said. “I ordered the book and I was excited and ready to roll. When it came it was 2 inches tall, or maybe 3, and it was a summary of the book … It was a quarter inch thick.”

Though Walker now finds the situation funny, he felt uneasy upon receiving the mini version of the textbook.

A random sampling of 226 students were surveyed about their online shopping habits. (Jessica Olsen)

“It was kind of frustrating in the moment because I thought I would get behind in the class,” Walker said.

Some online vendors can be deceitful about the products they sell.

“I would definitely say that it was misleading because it certainly wasn’t obvious that it was a mini version of the actual book,” Walker said.

Though there are potential setbacks when buying items on the Internet, BYU student Josh Hardy relies heavily on the system.

“Right now I don’t have a car so … shopping online is great because I can get stuff delivered right to my home,” Hardy said. “I don’t have to worry about wandering through the store and trying to track it down on the shelves.”

Finding an item in a store might be inconvenient, but tracking a package may be just as difficult. BYU alumna Cindy Walton’s online order spent 42 days in the mail.

In a survey about online shopping, 208 BYU students were randomly surveyed about the product they received. (Jessica Olsen)

“I ordered this banana shirt,” Walton said. “It was so cute, the fit was really good, the banana logo was really good … it was only 12 bucks.”

After she waited for six weeks, the package finally arrived.

“It looked nothing like the picture. The material was horrible … it looked like I had made it,” Walton said.

Just as Walton discovered, an online picture of a product may not always be accurate. For BYU student Rachael Affleck, it wasn’t the picture that didn’t match up correctly, but rather the item’s dimensions.

Affleck ordered a lucite chair online for only $30.

“I was so pumped about it,” Affleck said. “The photo of the chair was just the chair against the back wall with no reference to size at all.”

A picture of a product sold on (left) and the actual chair that was received (right). The bottle of lotion is 6 inches tall. (Racheal Affleck)

Figuring the product would be the size of an average chair, Affleck completed the purchase and awaited the arrival.

“I had the package shipped to my friend’s house … My friend texted me a photo of the chair and I was so excited, it was so cute,” Affleck said. “Then she sent me another photo of the chair next to a bottle of lotion, and it was smaller than the lotion. It was a chair for a doll.”

Some students wish to bypass the online shopping experience altogether to avoid similar experiences. BYU student Emily Bertola doesn’t like to order clothing online.

“Mostly I try to avoid buying clothes online because you don’t know how it will fit,” she said.

Online shopping can be tricky, especially when it comes to purchasing clothes. (Dalton Johnson)
Online shopping can be tricky, especially when it comes to purchasing clothes. (Dalton Johnson)

Whenever Bertola chooses to shop online, she cautiously prepares for the purchase.

“Check the reviews before you buy something … usually, reviews are a good tell of whether or not a place is good to shop at,” Bertola said.

Shopping online contains potential pitfalls. To avoid mishaps, consumers should read customer reviews, message the seller with questions and read the full item description. These simple tips can help the buyer’s high expectations for shopping online become a reality.

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