Savvy Online Shopping – What to Watch Out For – Just Sayin’

Today I’m back with some of my online shopping and shipping tips. It seem’s every so often there seems to be a kerfuffle when I place an online order. And because it seems I do a lot of online ordering, there’s bound to be mix-ups or snafus every once in awhile. I will add that thankfully, I’m not yet at the stage in life where I must have my groceries delivered, as I much prefer to choose my own produce and make sure I’m not getting any dented cans or ‘almost ready to expire’ products. My latest snag prompted me to write this post so I can share a few handy tips on what to look out for when placing an online order.


So what prompted this little informative rant? I was recently  on a hunt for my favorite lipstick, which I sadly discovered is soon being discontinued – once again, as many of my favs have disappeared through the years in Sephora. My first go to site was our big pharma site with a host of beauty products they sell online but not in all their stores as there are a multitude of product lines and only so many a store can carry. I prefer to check out sites in Canada first, as if I have to order from the U.S. I get hit with a multitude of duties on top of outside Canada shipping. When I get that desperate (as I have with other products gone astray), only then will I order from Ulta in the U.S. who, like Sephora, carry all cosmetic lines.

My recent order through Shopper’s Drug Mart required a minimum of $50 spent to get free shipping. As I have currently stockpiled 5 of these lipsticks, I thought I’d order a few more for my collection and of course the order came to $49 and change – pennies short of free shipping, so I decided to add in a bronzing cream I love because my current one is almost empty, but could have waited a month or so for. So my order now was well over $50. A few days after I placed my order I received an email confirmation, “Your order has shipped”, only at the bottom of the email, there was a notice saying – sorry the lipsticks are out of stock. The email had a new total being charged to my card – now well under $50, but they had taken the liberty now to charge me an additional $8 for shipping! No way was I paying shipping on that order!

Here’s the deal online companies, if items are out of stock which weren’t out of stock when I ordered, I think I deserve the courtesy of knowing before hand in a separate email, offering me a chance to add to the order or cancel. But they took the liberty of sending the bronzer cream without the rest of my order and slapping a shipping charge on. I promptly called their customer service number and told them exactly what I wrote here. ‘Please don’t take the liberty to ship half an original order without my consent and adding your shipping charge because YOU couldn’t fulfill the order.’ Yes, it was a bit time consuming, but I don’t appreciate companies taking my money without my consent. And of course, they reversed the shipping charge.

When online shopping, it’s important to check our emailed receipts to make sure we haven’t been wrongly charged, and correct sizes and items are listed to make sure  receive exactly what we ordered – even with that, sometimes wrong things are sent in error, but checking receipts and Visa statements are a first line defense.

I do usually order online from my specific favorite companies and am pretty familiar with their shipping practices. But when I order from an unfamiliar site, the first thing I do before ordering is click on their shipping policies to learn what I’m up against.


What to Look at When Ordering Online

First, if you’re unfamiliar with shopping on a certain site, I recommend Googling them up to check out reviews and recommends for that site, which will undoubtedly give you an idea of their customer service, should you require contacting them. I’ve come across a few popular sites over time that majority of complaints from customers was the terrible customer service and policies when it came to returns. That’s enough info for me to send me looking somewhere else to do my business. We should also check for reviews on a product we’re interested in ordering, on the actual site. Reading product reviews gives us a better idea of the product once someone has actually received theirs. Now, this isn’t to say that all reviews are helpful, as many of us readers know, not all book reviews are useful and sometimes irrelevant to a book.

Reviews are supposed to be helpful for others to aid in helping us make our decision to purchase. Sure, it’s okay to state how much you may love a product, but not adding any descriptions, such as sizing issues if it’s a garment or shoe, actual size of a product compared to what’s advertised, shipping issues, etc., isn’t helpful.

Below, I’ve done a little comparison of what to include in a good product review as opposed to what isn’t helpful:



  • Size comparisons, such as: “I’m usually a size 6 or small, and I needed to size up in this.”
  • This shoe fit too tight – size up.
  • This blender died after 2 months use – if I see a few of these comments, I’m on to a different brand.
  • The color of the product isn’t the same as what’s displayed on product page.
  • Book reviews that give some insight to fellow readers what the book is about, how they related to plot or characters, pacing, something the reader took from the book, and how the book left them feeling.


Not Helpful:

  • I love it!
  • So beautiful, glad I ordered it.
  • Wished I ordered in more colors.
  • Book reviews with no substance and nothing to entice a fellow reader.


Just Sayin'



I know as an online shopper, I rely a lot on other people’s reviews before I venture into making a purchase. Good reviews help others make an informed decision. Yes, it’s okay to share the love for a product we’re happy about, but without adding useful information, a review will serve no purpose other than to high-five the seller.


Remember this checklist before making your online purchase:

  • Check reviews on the site you’re ordering from.
  • Check shipping policies and ‘additional’ charges – especially if you are going to order from out of your country.
  • Check reviews under products you’re interested in purchasing, and read both negative and positive comments to help aid your purchase decisions.
  • Check Customer Service and ‘Contact Us’ on the site to make sure their return policy is fair and doesn’t require you to take a hit as penalty for returns, and that there is a contact phone number.
  • MAKE sure when placing an order on a site that isn’t from your country that you click on the right currency for your country, because if you will be paying in foreign dollars, you are looking at an exchange rate plus an additional bank charge on your credit card for the conversion. This will help you decide if paying the additional exchange plus shipping and duties are really worth purchasing the item.
  • Lastly, if you get surprisingly dinged for a shipping charge unjustly added, make sure to contact the company to have the charge removed.


Remember: It’s important to always check your receipts, emails, and credit card statements to make sure you haven’t been wrongly charged.

If you would like to add a situation you may have encountered that could help others, please feel free to add to the conversation in comments.


© D.G. Kaye and, 2014 – 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to D.G. Kaye



42 thoughts on “Savvy Online Shopping – What to Watch Out For – Just Sayin’

  1. Those ‘not helpful’ reviews you listed remind me of similar ‘not helpful’ comments such as ‘Great post’ left on blog posts, Debby. Why leave them if they don’t help or don’t add any value?

    I’m pleased to say that some UK companies include a box that says – ‘ship only once when all items are in stock.’ That saves them charging any shipping charges if they spilt your order because items are out of stock.

    Thanks for the tips. These are helpful for anybody who shops online, especially somebody like me who does 99% of their shopping online.


    1. Thank you Hugh. And you are so right. I did bring up book reviews, but thanks for mentioning blog comments here. And yes here too, our big department store where I order regularly from, often has to pull items from some of their different locations to fulfill orders, and sometimes my order comes in 2 or 3 deliveries. But that’s their problem, not mine- and they never add extra shipping. Actually,. the same when I order from Amazon, it often comes in separate deliveries with NO extra charge. So, naturally, I found this $8 a bogus charge! Live and learn, and share. 🙂 xx


      1. Same here, with Amazon, Debby. Although I am a prime member, so get free delivery on everything anyway. Doesn’t help when they spilt the order, and it comes into up to three separate deliveries, though. I use Prime for streaming TV, movies and music, so I get my monies worth out of it.


      2. That’s interesting Hugh. I haven’t signed up to Prime yet because I have enough subscription channels with cable. But when I order from there, minimum $35 order offers free shipping. So I save up in my cart for when I have a free shipping order. And always, my packages come in separate deliveries with no extra charge, so that’s weird.


      3. In the UK, there’s always a free shipping option providing you don’t mind waiting at least three working days for goods to arrive. With ‘Prime’, delivery is always guaranteed the following day (providing you order by a certain time). I’m impatient, and always want my goods the following day 😀


  2. Great advice, Debby. I’m pleased the company reversed the shipping charges. And so they should have. I wonder did they think they would just try it out and see what happened. Others may not have been as observant as you. I do find it frustrating when the items are not available, especially when they discontinue my favourite lines, which seems to happen frequently.


    1. I just felt compelled to write about those sneaky addon charges, which turned into a tips post because it’s very common for many to shop online. And for those not so familiar with procedures I hoped to enlighten. Thank you Norah 🙂 xx


  3. I’m so happy to hear that you battled customer service with your recent experience. I know it takes time and energy, but it is most certainly about the principle. How aggravating to be charged shipping because they couldn’t supply all the products in your order! Unfortunately, I’m afraid that most people would not have noticed the shipping charge or took the time to fight the good fight. As someone who has fought his share of customer service battles, I say, “Yay Debbie!”


    1. Thank you Pete. Yes, I do know many in my own circles that don’t bother looking. Money doesn’t grow on trees, and it’s hard to get one past me. Hopefully, my sharing will enlighten others. 🙂


  4. Great tips, Deb. I can imagine there are many snags online shopping. It’s not something I do often. My Beau on line shops for almost all his needs. Good to know about the shipping charges.


  5. Good summary, Deb. I’m really trying to avoid Amazon these days, slow their march to running the world. Walmart has really stepped up their game but I’m not sure they’re in Canada…


  6. I’m fully with you on the reviews. Before I touch a new site, I look at reviews upon reviews upon reviews. Come to think of it, I’m the same way when it comes to products, too …


  7. Very helpful tips, Debby. I tend to check out reviews of the product but haven’t thought to look at return policies, shipping details, or reviews on the company. And like you, I order a lot of stuff online but like to pick out my own groceries. 🙂


  8. Living in a small town, it’s essential that we order much stuff online. So we encounter many of the same problems you mention. The one annoying thing with Amazon is that they won’t identify which way they will be shipped, regardless of free shipping–until after the order is put in, with the shipping address. Some can go by the Postal Service, others will go by UPS or FedEx. We use the PO Box as the default and if it can’t go that way, then we have to go back and change it. Small thing compared to most of what you’re talking about. But they are good about free shipping if it is. The other annoying thing is trying out Amazon Prime. We don’t really need stuff that fast 99% of the time. We tried it once and then we got an automatic bill for the 2nd month. The irate wife called them on that (you don’t mess with her on orders for ANYTHING) and they refunded it.


    1. Hi John. Yes, I know online ordering is trickier for those with a P.O. box as most sites state when I check shipping. I’m surprised Amazon doesn’t let you know the score til after you’ve paid – strange. And I try to stay away from free trials where you’re auto enrolled and ready to charge a card the next month so I don’t use prime either. I get free shipping over $35 spend, so I just keep things in my cart til I have a full order. 🙂


  9. Hi, Debby! I’ve been shopping more and more online, especially during the holidays. So this post could not have come at a better time. One of the things I check for when shopping online is to ensure that the company has secure billing. Your checklist is very convenient and helpful. Thank you! 😀 xo


    1. HI Vashti. I’m so glad you found this helpful. And you are so right, I thought that would go without saying about making sure of secure billing. My antivirus software comes with secure pay option, so whenever I go to put in card info, the ‘safepay’ page shows up. 🙂 Happy weekend! ❤ x


  10. Good for you tackling that cheeky shipping charge, Debby…I shop online a lot as many things I cannot get here…I avoid Amazon though as the shipping is often much more than the item plus customs charge so not worth it. I only use Amazon when I know someone is coming to Thailand and then I send it to them and they bring over for me the same with M & S who ship here if I go into a store and order it….mmmm…So I travel to the Uk order it in the store and they ship to me here..Yeah…I am still working the sense of that one out
    I generally use Lazada who ship free and I pay cash on delivery…I don’t like putting my card online especially on goods coming from China/India…Their delivery is also excellent to the point when one time I was out and they delivered it to where I was..he did get a tip…
    For books I have just started using Book depository the only downside is delivery can take 2/3 weeks to get here.


    1. Carol, thanks for sharing this wealth of information of your own delivery issues and resolutions. I’m sure this will be helpful for the many who have the same shipping charge issues. Oh, and incidentally, I am actually on hold for 20 minutes now to the damned Shoppers Drug Mart who has yet to credit me! This will not be a friendly call lol 🙂 xx


  11. Now that we’re settled at one address for a few weeks, we have been ordering a lot of items online. I can honestly say that about 50% of them are correct and arrive without issues. The others are either the wrong size (sheets), need a reminder to get shipped, are the wrong material (wire brushes), color, and so on. The bad thing: lots of time spent on the phone and on chat, following up on everything, and new research that needs to happen to buy the same item from another company. The good thing: some of those items were cancelled without us having to send the items back. So… free stuff. That might not fit, however. 🙂

    Mark and I have a lot of principles and one of the main ones is not to be taken advantage of. It is time-consuming and frustrating, many times, but usually, it’s worth the “savings” and to make sure you’re treated right.


    1. Thanks for sharing Liesbet. Now I know I’m not alone, lol. But yes, the most frustrating thing is when something doesn’t arrive or arrives wrong, and WE must invest OUR valuable time tracking down, waiting on ‘ignore’ on the support line for often over an hour until anything gets resolved. I feel you! 🙂


  12. Great post, Debby, with lots of wonderful tips. I’m with you. Don’t say items that were in stock when I placed my order are out of stock and then violate the conditions I accepted as part of the sale. Besides, I thought items were listed as out of stock as soon as the last one was purchased. Oh, don’t get me started. I just feel that if I am extending the courtesy of shopping your site, do me the courtesy of getting my order right and honoring your promises to me.


    1. Exactly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s truly maddening when sites don’t update their stock. That just lights a flame under me. Lol, I see we’d be a real pair! 🙂 xx


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