Many of us are still very sceptical about paying upfront while shopping online. In such cases normally we place Cash On Delivery or COD orders which we consider safe. But are they really safe? That’s what we’ll discuss here on the basis of own experiences and also that of others we know. Let’s first look into the examples I have and then discuss further on this.
Example #1 (My friend’s mobile phone purchase from a popular used equipment sell/purchase website)
- My friend short listed an used high end phone on the website, that was being offered for a great price and was in excellent condition.
- To gain confidence he chatted with the seller on WhatsApp. The seller also send few more pics of the phone over WhatsApp to build confidence.
- The seller said that the item will be sent by Cash On Delivery (COD), so my friend has to pay the courier delivery guy after receiving the item, so nothing to worry about.
- My friend agreed and paid Rs 500 in advance via PayTM to cover the courier cost.
- The next day afternoon the seller also dispatched the parcel and sent the courier receipt via WhatsApp to my friend.
- Two days passed, on the 3rd day the courier arrived at my friend’s office. He paid the agreed amount to the courier boy and collected the packet.
- Now the real story started to unleash. When he opened the packet he found an extremely cheap phone instead of the high end phone he paid for. The phone he received was available for approximately Rs 5,000 a brand new piece, whereas the one he selected to buy was available for Rs 32,000 for a brand new piece and he agreed to buy the used one for approximately Rs 16,000.
- He contacted the seller over WhatsApp and described the problem. The seller requested some pics and videos of the received package which my friend sent across immediately. After that the seller agreed that it’s a mistake on their part and they’ll send the replacement piece soon.
- One week passed, my friend got worried and contacted over WhatsApp. They said that they have run out of that model so it’ll take few more days to arrange another. Having nothing much in hand to do my friend agreed unwillingly. He kept messaging them and the assurances of replacement continued.
- One more week passed and my friend became impatient, this time instead of messaging them he called them. The guy then given him another number as their helpdesk number and asked him to contact. But after that both those phone numbers became offline. Neither phone calls went through nor WhatsApp messages and calls.
- My friend reported it to cybercrime police online, but nothing happened even after almost 4 months. So my friend has now forgotten it like a nightmare.
- One of my family members ordered a Saree from a website named https://diwinestore.in/ via Cash On Delivery route.
- After a few days she received phone calls from them to confirm the purchase with the customer and then dispatch. Interestingly when they called, the Truecaller app on my family member’s mobile phone shown them as “Fraud Company”. But apparently it didn’t ring any bells in her mind and she confirmed them to send the product via COD.
- After few days the courier arrived. She paid the amount to the courier boy and collected the parcel.
- Upon opening the same at home she discovered that:
- The saree was completely different from what was ordered.
- It was also damaged (had a big hole) and not wearable.
- Then she messaged their number given on the website about the issue, called them several times over weeks but there was no response on messages and the calls didn’t go through.
- Now she’s also trying to forget it as a nightmare.
So, what did you learn from above examples? Simple – Cash On Delivery is NOT as safe an option as it’s considered.
The safety or genuineness of any order primarily depends on the intents of the merchant or the seller and also the website or online platform you’re dealing with. If someone is working full time just to cheat someone else to make some quick bucks, then he/she/they may get success in 1 out of 100 tries.
So what’s the solution?
- Try to buy online only from well-established brands like Snapdeal, Flipkart, Ebay, Amazon etc. Because they are reputed brands in themselves, they have good customer support, they have great policies in place to protect the customer’s money etc. When you have a genuine issue with a product received from them, even if you’ve already paid in advance, still your money is safe if you report it within the prescribed time frame.
- If you want to buy something from any other web site, then please be careful. There are many other websites that specialize in specific categories and they’re real genuine sites you can rely upon (E.g. Bigbasket, Headphonezone, Seniority etc.). But if there’s a site that you never heard of, then please investigate it before placing an order. Doing a Google search for the website should give you ample info to know about it. If Google doesn’t give any info about the site, then I recommend staying away from it since its genuineness is unknown.
- If you’re looking forward to buy used/refurbished items, I would recommend looking at sites like www.2gud.com or refurbished/renewed/open-box section in Amazon. There may be other such sites also I’m not aware of. But if you are looking at other platforms that don’t sell things themselves and just facilitate a deal between two parties, then look for their local deals where you can meet the seller at a safe place, validate the product and buy it then and there. Never fall prey for great offers from a different city than yours, where they promise COD. I’m not saying all of them are fraud, but there’s nothing to believe they aren’t.
Please let me know your similar experiences, inputs, advice etc. in comments.