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Safe and secure shopping tips

Check the me-too stores return policy, privacy policy, if they have any?

If their policies sound like ditto copy paste from some other reputed website, then you know what their integrity level is.

Since when is the newbie store operating? Double verify their claim. If they are really operating a successful business since last 10-20 years, why still operating from a home / garage in the middle of nowhere?

The newbie store claims to have a showroom? Where? Why no contact address and directions? Why they are keeping it a secret? The bottom line is that if a seller can not be honest with about what or who they truly are, how can you trust him to be honest about anything else?

Does the newbie store have IEC registration with RBI, which is compulsory for shipping internationally?

Must check Beware of the seller alerts lists or fraud alert lists before buying from any new web store. Be sure to look deeper into sellers back ground before you start browsing their oh! so attractive catalogs. Dont give out your email address, let alone buying from them. Your email address will fall into wrong hands.

Beware of the seller who supplies only a mobile phone number and avoids giving out a fixed line number and address. Beware of the newbie seller who uses free email accounts like hotmail, gmail, yahoo etc. Just beware of the seller ratings of some of the vendors; many a times these are manipulated. Sometimes if the price looks too good to be true, there is a reason.

Just make sure you trust the seller before parting with your email id or credit card numbers. Better be safe then sorry when shopping online because your online identity is at stake. Scam artists are lurking everywhere. They con you into sending them money via Western Union or xoom or any such untraceable payment method and do not intend to send you the item you paid for.

The problem with online stores is, it is difficult to judge who is a one man show operating from a home / garage and who is an established enterprise. Better not to buy from a new online store until you know of at least 5 persons who have done shopping from it.

Research the seller before you start looking at the wares and their prices. Do not go by Google position in search results. Make it a rule not to buy from a seller unless they've been active for at least 3 years and check with your friends and family to see if they are legitimate or not. If some store is coming on top in Google / Yahoo search, does not mean anything in terms of trust worthiness.

Google is no substitute for common sense. Beware of paid / sponsored search results and listings. Many newbie shoppers get trapped. All we can say is just be sensible. Buying from a street hawker with cash is much safer. Hope the me-too are not selling used, export rejects or second hand or rented out items.

Call your friends or family in the store city or country to seek their opinion. Whether they have heard of the name or not? Whether the address provided is a real address or not? Does it have a brand name or showroom as claimed by it? Get feedback from your friends and family if they have heard of or shopped with this store or not? This is a common story; the buyer had to chase the seller for the item which did not arrive at all.

The seller passing on the buck to the postal / courier service. The vendor then flooded their e-mail accounts with e-mails trying to harass them. Avoid these kinds of stores like plague. This is also very common. Blaming the quality defect on the vendor? When taking payment they claim they themselves are the manufacturer now hiding behind the excuse that vendor is responsible and they cannot do anything about it. On the internet, there is no opportunity to look a business owner in the eye to see if they are honest so be extra vigilant.

If it looks too good to be true, it is. Yes, there are some great bargains to be found while shopping online, but the old adage stands true. Asking for you to register before you can add items to wish list or shopping cart is a very, very negative sign. The store is more interested in your email address. Is this just a way to get your email address so it can sell it to spammers?

Many of the online shoppers have learned the bitter truth about buying on price alone. Will you buy anything critical to your image or self esteem based on price alone compromising the safety of your financial information? There is no such thing as a free lunch  and there never will be. If you fall into the ever so tempting cheapest price trap you will pay in one way or another.

If at all anything is shipped by these fly by night sellers, either garment quality will be questionable, alternate item will be shipped without your approval, hidden costs will be there, color will come off in first wash, fabric will shrink, size will be too short or long. Be wary of stores where no one will be online to chat on msn / yahoo or live help. Doesnt a too cheap price bring something else to mind? Like desperation?

It is a real crap shoot as to how long such businesses are going to be around to support the product and service they want to sell you. Check the newbie stores new arrival section? Are they just pretty photos of 2005 collection? Fresh or stale? If this is the status of new arrival sections, what to say of their other sections. Beware of the sellers who try to sell overstock, unsold, out of fashion inventories.

There is a saying in India, if there is something which goes out of fashion in India; it can be easily sold to NRIs or foreigners. Do the newbie stores seem to cut corners to sustain low prices or discounts? Are they compromising in product & service quality? Is there a catch?

Be wary of buying from websites which either look unprofessional or lack important info compared to legitimate websites. One thing about the internet is that it is not so easy to compare quality, as shoppers often do not find out until after payment has been made. So be very very careful when dealing with newbie stores.

Those who charge less know what their products and services are worth. All other critical things being equal, you should buy from the cheapest source when shopping offline. But online put trust factor above price or anything else. Have you heard about all of those online stores which were abandoned by shoppers because they wont answer phone calls or respond to emails or who just shut up and disappeared or are in jail (yes, there are many)?

How about the friend of a friend who patched together something which sort of worked and then discovered that the online women apparel business is less than intuitive and lost interest? Leaving the hapless gullible buyers all alone. Are your instincts telling you to beware? Listen to your gut.

If you are having second thoughts about a dubious merchant; if the Web site appears to be suspicious; if the offer seems too good to be true  trust your instincts. Are the newbie stores customer oriented? Does it seem like they know what they are doing? Using your common sense it is easy to get a feel for some quick warning signs. Protect your personal information. It is a valuable commodity.

Only share your credit card or other personal information when you are buying from a company you know and trust. Dont be ripped of by the copycat webstores. Many offer 25% discount on utsavfashion.com rates added with free stitching and free shipping.

Do you really know who is there at the other end of email or phone line? If the newbie store claims to have a showroom or manufacturing facility, even if you do not live nearby, simply call his bluff and ask for directions so that you can take a look at some products.

Call their bluff and better shop somewhere else. The truth is that many of these newbie garage based sellers have never even seen many of the products that they sell because they stock absolutely nothing. They are doing business at your cost.

The bottom line is that it is extremely difficult for a one person part time operation to adequately service the expectations of international customers. So why take chances with these newbies. Beware of websites which all of a sudden appear from nowhere and claim that they have 25 years history ? Caution is warranted. Beware of websites that ask to install software on your computer so you can view their site if you are unsure what they are.

Beware of websites on the Internet that claim to sell authentic pure silk, as there is no real way to tell whether their claims are real. These shady sites which offer lots of freebies are not always what they appear to be. Will you buy curd from a hawker ? Who comes to your door step to sell ? Even for free ? Beware of newbie sellers from out side EU and North America unless they are established brand names. As you may have limited recourse in case they do not deliver what they promise.

There are scam artists who attempt to represent reputed brand / designer names for sale that they do not own. Before buying from a new webstore whose name you are hearing for first time, do talk to your known circle of people for feedback. Play safe when buying online from a new store which seem to over do the selling pitch.

There is no reason to provide social security or drivers license numbers to the seller. Before giving out your credit card information on new websites be double sure that you are not acting or guided by greed. They will ship / fulfill a small order perfectly and then after gaining your trust will trap you into placing a larger order then it is downhill all the way. Do your homework and make sure you are purchasing from reputable sources.

Obtain a physical address, not just a post office box number. Beware of sellers who use free e-mail accounts, where a credit card is not required to open the account. Check with the Better Business Bureau in the sellers area. Be cautious about responding to unsolicited e-mails.

Bewary of fraudulent websites that were blatantly copied from legitimate websites, irrespective of any copyrights or trademark protection. Ask for names and phone number of courier company they have used in the past for your area. If they indicate that a specific company will handle the shipping, then telephone the courier company - even if it is an international long distance call - to confirm that the shipping company even knows the sender. And do this BEFORE you send any money! Use common sense.

This seems obvious, but people do not always do it. Use of common sense will help you avoid imitation websites with fraudulent listings and claims, suspicious offers, and misleading statements. Further, if you have a gut feeling that something is not legitimate, you\\\'re probably right. ALWAYS ask for references and check them carefully. A reputable company will be pleased to provide you with lots of references. Use good judgment, be careful, follow these tips, and you probably would not have any problems.

Beware of websites (other than those of established companies) who have been known by several other names and functions in the past. Chances are they will be known by a different name and function in the near future. Please use common sense and care before you give out your email address, and certainly before you disclose your credit card information. Remember, websites with bells and whistles dont necessarily are genuine. What you see on the surface might be different than whats inside.

Dont judge a book by its cover. Please watch out for websites that offer free or greatly reduced prices. Never ever respond to unsolicited e-mail offers. Some times sacked employees of legitimate webstores might approach you to sell at greatly reduced prices. Run away from them as fast as you can. Call the seller. Beware of sellers who list only an e-mail address or who have local telephone numbers that are disconnected or connect to a church or business that has nothing to do with the ad.

Try to get a physical address, not a post office box, and phone number. Ask if the seller is a member of any trade association or certifying agency or registered with some government authority. Also, beware of websites that are designed for one purpose and that is to get you to click on Buy Now.

They take advantage of the need and desire of people to get their hands on some great bargain. Beware of copycats: - Over the last 10 years, as we have led the Indian ethnic women fashion arena, many copycat firms and companies have tried to imitate our look in order to convince potential clients that they would receive the same time-tested products and services which have made us so popular. But the similarities run only skin-deep.

Many of our customers have approached us during past 6-9 months asking us if such and such website belongs to us. Internet shoppers are relatively easy prey for such deceptive copycat sites. Most copycat firms are brand-new and they hope to learn about fashion retailing on your dime. Unless you're okay being someone is guinea pig, avoid firms that seem poor copies .

Yes, there are a few copycats that try to look similar to our site, but do not be fooled. If any website belong to us, we will not hide our brand name. if anyone claims to supply to us or claim to source from us, do double check with us.

Protect yourself from having the wool pulled over your eyes when shopping online. These me-too websites are ripping off our site design, product photos, content, look and feel and even our terms & conditions along with disclaimers. The complete and wholesale cut and paste nature of the theft means that some of their pages still link to our images and pages. They are not even good copycats. The clumsiness shows as they have copied without even bothering to edit words here and there. We can’t believe how many people think that just by copying the strategies, design and content of other sites they will have instant success. People think that by simply stealing someone else’s website design and product images that they will somehow have a good site.

It doesn’t work that way! True, sometimes it feels good when you know that people appreciate your work so much that they want to even use it for themselves. But I think it is a double-edged sword, people who visit such copycat websites first might think that we are the one who copy them, which in return, puts our company at risk of being labeled copycat. We are thankful to our customers & visitors who take their time to write an email to us to double check. It does not affect us but sadly it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the gullible customers. We feel sorry for those who are ripped off by these copycats.

Thankfully, savvy shoppers are smart enough to notice who is a copycat and who is an original. By the time others copy our product photos, we come out with fresh range leaving these copycats no option but to go on perpetual sale mode in desperation to get rid of stale products. Others can shamelessly copy our website design, look & feel and item photos but unfortunately matching quality and service is a different thing altogether. When someone copies photos, quality does not suffer. But when someone tries to recreate a garment by just looking at the photo, you can very well imagine the outcome. Still we suggest that you shop with these copycats and find out for yourself and please do not forget to share your experience with everyone you know, so that others do not get trapped. Finally they can fool some of the people some of the time but cannot fool all the people all the time.

Note: We have nothing against the home / garage based stores. It is the service that matters not the location that they operate from. But characteristics that we feel are critical in an industry such as fashion are honesty, experience, attention to detail, integrity and service.