There are bargains galore to be had online but too often these savings come at a price of e-tailers cutting corners - and a lack of awareness about consumer rights.
Luckily this last issue is something the Office of Fair Trading hopes to rectify, so the problems experienced by Eric Jones and Alan Tosney should become a thing of the past. Both were customers of Ebuyer and their one major gripe was how difficult it is to get hold of the company when things go wrong.
"I can't fault the delivery service of the company but I found the website misleading," Mr Jones told me.
"I wanted a USB2 external drive kit and FireWire card but when they arrived [Ebuyer] had supplied the USB2 kit but the card was a USB1 card. I wanted to return them and sent them emails and phoned, but the number was always busy and I couldn't find the company address on the site."
Mr Jones also believed he would incur a restocking fee of 20 per cent.
Mr Tosney had very similar problems when a DVD player he bought from Ebuyer turned out to be duff. He returned the item with no problems, but although the Ebuyer website offered him a choice of replacement or refund, before he made up his mind the site made it up for him, he claims.
Weeks later there is no sign of a replacement.
"I can't find their address, the phone number is always busy and no one returns my emails. My confidence is shaken by this," said Mr Tosney.
I contacted Ebuyer about these complaints and they have resolved them swiftly. I asked why the e-tailer charged a restocking fee, and was told that this was a misunderstanding.
Even though Mr Jones should have returned the items within seven days, Ebuyer said it would provide a refund if he still wishes to return them, and no charge will be made.
I did find Ebuyer's address on its website but you have to dig down into the terms and conditions, so I believe it should be more prominently displayed.
I also asked them to investigate Mr Tosney's missing DVD player and was told that it no longer in stock and that a credit had been applied to his account.
When I told Ebuyer he wanted a refund it agreed to make this payment to his credit card.
The problems reported here are very common. Customer service levels suffer as companies cut overheads to keep product prices down.
Some things, however, can be put right at little extra cost. Hopefully the OFT guidelines will aid companies, and this should ultimately benefit their customers.
Another problem with customer service is bad advice.
Darren Faux bought a Hitachi monitor from Overclockers but had to return it because it was dead on arrival. He wanted a replacement and duly got one. In fact, he got five in total because each one had a major fault. He was getting desperate and so was the company.
"We tested all the returned monitors but they were not faulty. We don't know what to do," said a representative. Luckily Mr Faux sorted it out himself - he discovered advice that he had been given by an Hitachi technical rep was incorrect.
The replacements were not faulty but because he had been given well meaning but spurious advice everyone was in a tiswas. It seems no matter how often companies say they train their staff, an awful lot of guff gets told to unsuspecting consumers. Another effect of slashing prices, it seems.
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