Shopping Online – How to Shop Online in Canada
I’ve been shopping online now for several years, and I’m still surprised that some people have never tried it. It is a more relaxing way to buy gifts than braving the crowds. There are more interesting gifts available from “niche” stories. You don’t have to run around the city trying to find somewhere that has the item in stock. You can find special prices and deals that are only available on the web.
If it wasn’t for online shopping I’d be another one of those guys buying gifts in a gas station on December 24th.
How To Pay
There are 2-3 ways to buy merchandise online.
- Credit Card
- PayPal – Escrow site owned by EBay.
- Google Checkout – This is Google’s competition for PayPal. I’ve never tried it.
You are more likely to have your credit card information stolen in a restaurant or gas station than online. If you are worried about safety with credit cards online, I strongly recommend having a credit card with a $1000 limit that you use only for online purchases. Using a card dedicated for only purchases guarantees that you’ll notice any suspicious activity.
PayPal and Google Checkout act as intermediaries — they are the ones who have your financial information, not the companies you are doing business with. You can connect your PayPal account to a credit card or to your banking account. If it is connected to your bank account you are using an e-check and it can take between 4 to 10 business days to clear before the order is even processed.
Use your credit card, it’s less hassle. PrivacyRights.org and the Better Business Bureau say that the safest way to shop online is with a credit card.
Shopping online is safe and secure provided you follow these recommendations:
- Check the web address is really the site you are trying to access. The same goes for online banking.
- Check that it is using secure HTTP (It says https:// instead of http:// in the address bar).
- Check that the “lock symbol” shows up in the lower right hand corner of your web browser.
- No company will ever ask you for password, banking or credit card information over email.
Most stores offer free shipping once your item is over a certain limit. It’s usually worth it to find a cheap item to add to your order to get free shipping.
Getting items shipped to your work address is a nice alternative to driving around the city picking them up at a UPS, FEDEX or Canada Post depot.
Most online stores are very efficient at shipping items in time for Christmas and will tell you before you place the order if it will arrive before December 25th. Usually the cut-off date is between December 18th-22nd.
This is a pain. When shipping from the U.S. to Canada the item has to clear customs, and this is done through a third party brokerage company. These fees are *NOT* included in the quoted online shipping cost. Here is the UPS chart for the cost of brokerage fees.
I try to use Canadian stores instead of US stores to avoid this hassle. But because of the strong Canadian dollar it may be cheaper to buy from the US and ship to Canada, even with brokerage fees.
Small List of Canadian Stores
- Lush http://ca.lush.com/
- Media – Books, Movies, Games
- Outdoors Stuff
- Mountain Equipment Co-op – http://www.mec.ca
You can usually find online deals and coupons for online stores at sites like redflagdeals.com.
Looking for something to get for the geek in your life? Check out my Gift Guide for Geeks.