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Blindfolded Shopping – Beware the Cons (Literally) When Shopping Online for Plumbing Fixtures

Blindfolded? Absolutely, and most don’t even know it. Unfortunately, folks are completely unaware of the pitfalls of buying plumbing fixtures online, and they get trapped into the so-called “advantages”. Buying online may be wise for some things, or at the very least not too painful if something goes wrong, like when you’re buying shoes or jewelry. But when you’re buying heavy or specialty plumbing fixtures, this is a very risky endeavor.

We’ve had many customers come to us after they’ve purchased plumbing fixtures online, and upon hearing some of the same horror stories over the years, we thought we’d share some of their most common complaints. As many have warned in numerous online articles,

“Buyer Beware when Shopping Online”

1) Your item may not be what you thought you ordered, or may not include all the components you need. Unfortunately, one cannot truly know what’s being purchased online, until they actually receive the item. The item could be exactly as you expected, or way off; it may include all the components you need, or it may not. Descriptions are great, and the more the better, but they can never take the place of knowing for sure.

- Many items are being counterfeited now for online sale. CBS News recently reported that many items purchased thru Amazon are being counterfeited or switched for something else, unbenounced to Amazon, and there are likely many others.

“We think the amount of fraud and counterfeit goods that were sold to consumers was between $110 and $140 million just this past holiday season,” James Lee of the Consumer Fraud Center in Santa Monica said.

In the case of plumbing fixtures, many look the same on the outside, but may be VERY different on the inside, even when they are the same model number! This is a dangerous thing for a plumbing fixture that will be holding water under pressure in your home. Yikes! A scary thought with a faucet that’s substandard or out-of-date. In addition, many components like drains, supply lines, or valves may not be included with your order. Buying plumbing fixtures can be quite comprehensive, so it’s best to have a knowledgeable plumbing showroom representative help make sure you have everything you need for your project. See our BE INFORMED Information Sheet for more details.

2) Shipping Expenses to Receive. Lots of online retailers offer smokin’ deals on pricing, but put the item in your cart (especially with tubs and toilets) and you’ll likely get sticker shock for the shipping cost.

3) Defects, Damage, Mistakes. It’s never fun to wait patiently for an item, only to receive it damaged, defective, or the wrong unit altogether. Dealing with these issues with online retailers can be very challenging, sometimes even a real nightmare, not to mention the additional time to wait for a replacement. This’ll delay your remodel significantly.

4) Shipping Expenses to Return Unwanted Items & Restocking Fees. If you don’t like an item, or need to switch to a different color/finish, you will pay for the return shipping on your own, and may likely have to pay a restocking fee. These fees add up quick, therefore many will keep undesired items they would have otherwise returned. Do you really want to look at that toilet you don’t like everyday?

5) Online Security – or lack of it. We’ve all heard the dangers here. Fraud and security breaches are everywhere online, and it looks like it’s only getting worse. Security is even in jeopardy with large retailers now, and those with whom you’d never expect to have such a problem. The internet is too sweet a pond for hackers and thieves not to play in. To add insult to injury, more often than not now, they get off scott-free. As such, they boldly laugh in the face of enforcement. So much so that now they’re even holding police departments’ data for ransom! How more brazen can you get?! If these vermin have so little a chance of being prosecuted, they’ll just keep comin’. And sadly, everything retailers try to do in thwarting this problem is always just a step behind. No site can boast they are 100% free of these cockroaches. If/when one is caught, another is waiting in the wings, with better software and more clever systems to beguile shoppers and retailers. It’s just a sign of our digital times.

6) Spyware. This part gets even scarier. Our computers are like fishbowls now. The amount of data collected and housed by online retailers and browsers is getting so massive and invasive, that it makes just looking around online a negative experience.

Some online retailers do a very good job reducing the above risks when buying online, but knowing exactly who those retailers are takes experience, and are you really willing to bet your remodel on selecting the right one? Even then, things still do go wrong, and isn’t it nicer to have a local, real person available to resolve your issues? We believe it is.

Our objective isn’t to scare people with this article, but in keeping with our overall mission of being an Information Center, our paramount concern is that folks are informed. As we consider adding more e-commerce to our website, we will do so as a brick & mortar store, where our customers can have real access to real people for questions, and to address concerns or issues.

– There’s a whole host of articles available online that discuss this subject in detail. You may want to view two different articles both entitled,”The Disadvantages of Online Shopping” here and here, as well as “The Computer Revolution/E commerce/Disadvantages”.

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