Shopping on the internet and having goods delivered to your door can be a practical solution for many people with sight problems.
More people than ever are using the internet to shop for a variety of items, from clothes and shoes, to travel tickets and cars.
Shopping online offers many advantages:
- You can shop any time of the day or night.
- You have an infinite amount of choice - if you don't see what you want on one site you can simply move on to the next.
- When buying groceries you can check the cooking instructions.
- You can compare prices from hundreds of different sellers.
- You can access customer reviews.
Paying for your shopping on the internet
Most shopping websites use some sort of shopping cart - this is your virtual trolley into which you can place items, then take them to the checkout when you want to pay. You can check the items you've selected and change items in your trolley at any time to make sure you're happy before you pay.
Just like paying for a meal by credit card or buying something in a shop, as long as you take some basic precautions shopping online is safe.
- Make sure you use a secure website to enter your debit or credit card information.
- Look for a gold padlock symbol in the bottom right of the browser window
- Make sure the website address begins with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’. This isn't an iron-clad guarantee, but still worth checking for.
- Never give out your debit or credit card details unless you are convinced the internet page is secure.
- If possible, pay by credit card, rather than debit card because this can give you extra protection.
- Don't leave your computer unsupervised while shopping online, and make sure you log out properly at the end of a transaction.
Before you start shopping ask yourself:
- Do I trust the vendor?
- Do they have a “secure” website?
- What are their delivery times?
- Can I contact them if something goes wrong?
- Are there any hidden charges?
- Always print out your order confirmation and make sure that you check the delivery times and prices.
Protecting your computer
Even if you're dealing with a legitimate merchant, you're at risk if your computer is infected, so make sure that your computer is secure. Keep your operating system and browsers updated and use a good and up-to-date internet security programme.
Most security companies offer a free-trial version that will tide you over for a month or so, but be sure to subscribe so that you get ongoing protection.
Using access technology
Access technology, also known as assistive technology, is designed to help enable blind or partially sighted to use technology effectively. There is a wide range of access technology available to help when shopping on the internet, including modifications to your computer setup, specialist hardware and assistive software packages. Visit our technology section for more information.
Your rights as an internet shopper
As an internet shopper, you have the right to:
- information about goods and services before you buy
- a confirmation in writing, if appropriate
- a cooling off period of seven working days in which to cancel your order if you change your mind (different arrangements exist for food ordered via the internet)
- protection of your credit card against fraud.
Many websites also allow somebody else to order shopping for you and have it delivered to your address, so a family member could shop online on your behalf and have the items delivered to you.
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