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   Shopping on the Internet

Welcome to ConsumerNow, home of the BEST consumer web sites on the internet! A record number of consumers are shopping online for the first time. ConsumerNow was created as a public service for online consumers and shoppers.

First time shoppers, start below at 5 Easy Steps to Online Shopping, and be sure to check out the popular 10 Commandments of Online Shopping! If there is a consumer site that you think should be included, or you have comments regarding this site, please send e-mail to (replace "AT" with the @ symbol).

   5 Easy Steps to Online Shopping
Step 1: Research the Product - Review and research the product. Read online product reviews and search online research sites for profesional reviews and user comments regarding the product.

Step 2: Find the Best Price - Compare prices before you buy. Find the best price on price comparison web sites or online shopping malls. Check the deals and coupon web sites to get a discount and/or free shipping. Be sure to include shipping and state tax (if applicable) in the total price.

Step 3: Research the Merchant - Research the the online merchant. Check the merchants rating and user comments on online merchant ratings and reviews sites.

Step 4: Buy the Product - Buy from a reputable merchant. First time shoppers, be sure to check out the 10 Commandments of Online Shopping! below.

Step 5: Track your package - Track your package online via the shipping company or the merchant's web site.

   The 10 Commandments of Online Shopping go to top
1. Research your merchant - Web sites such as BizRate, Gomez, and Better Business Bureaus Online evaluate hundreds of different merchants on criteria such as customer service, privacy policies, and content. Look at the ratings consumers give them and stay clear of sites that either aren't listed or receive poor marks.
2. Shop only at sites that offer encryption protection - The web page where you enter personal information and/or credit card information should be secure (i.e. provide encryption protection). A secure site will have one or more of these three features: the small lock/key symbol at the lower left corner of your browser window will appear LOCKED; an address that starts with https ("s" for "secure") instead of just http; and a warning box that pops up at the point of purchase.
3. Shop with familiar companies - Larger well-known companies are eager to protect the reputation of their brands. These companies are more likely to have properly secured their sites for online shoppers. Look for web sites that are professionally designed and provide name, address, and contact information for the company. Be wary of merchants that do not provide a phone number for customer service. Note: If you are shopping at an online shopping malls, you are at the mercy of the online merchant for customer service and returns. There is an exception, Yahoo Shopping provides a Buyer's Protection Program.
4. Pay by credit card - Using a credit card protects you in case something goes wrong. Most credit card companies cover fraudulent charges or limit your liability resulting from unauthorized use of your card. It is also a good idea to use only one credit card to shop with online. This helps keep track of your online purchases, and will make it easier to spot purchases that are fraudulent.
5. Keep a record - Print or save a copy of your order and confirmation number for your records. Reputable merchants will usually send you an e-mail confirming your order. Having the original order helps in case your order is lost, deleted, or not delivered as promised.
6. Find the best price - For the best price, use price comparison web sites and online coupons and rebates. Be sure to include shipping cost in price comparison. Check to make sure item is "in stock" before submitting order. If possible, place order by phone and ask salesperson whether an item is "in stock" before placing the order.
7. Protect your information - Do not enter more information at a merchant site than is absolutely necessary. There is usually no reason why you should have to supply information such as Social Security numbers or birth dates when making a purchase. Fill in only the bare essentials necessary to make your purchase. The site should tell you how the information will be used, and if it will be shared with others.
8. Know the return policy - Check the customer service page for return policy information. Be aware of restocking fees and nonreturnable items.
9. Double check your order - Pay close attention to all the information you enter. A single accidental keystroke may mean you've ordered the wrong item or wrong number of items.
10. Always use the latest browser. Using the latest browser ensures that you have the latest security technology and latest security fixes for safer web browsing and shopping.

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