Online Christmas Shopping During A Pandemic As A Disabled Person – On the high street as a full-time wheelchair user, shopping is difficult at the best of times. Throw in Christmas and it is a whole new ball game. Being in a pandemic and lockdown leaves me no other choice but to buy online! Do I prefer this to doing my shopping on the high street? What did I find to be the best and worst parts of shopping online for Christmas gifts?
I hate high street shopping at any time of the year. People, access, stupidity all add stress to what should be a normal part of my life! If you are an able-bodied person reading this, how many times in one shopping trip have you NOT been able to gain access to a shop because of steps? How many times have you NOT been able to browse around a shop due to clothes rails being so tightly packed together they hit your shoulder causing severe pain? Gone to a counter to pay and been ignored because the counter is so high you are NOT seen? Exactly!! I can experience each of these EVERY TIME I go shopping.
Benefits of Shopping Online
There are many benefits to shopping online.
- It’s stress-free.
- You can visit many different websites at the touch of a button.
- Browse 1000’s of products in a short space of time.
- You are not worrying about the next person bumping into you or clambering over your wheelchair.
- Queue jumping because “they didn’t see you there”!
- Best of all, left out in the cold because you can’t get into the shop!!
Online shopping gives you the freedom to search for what you want at a time that is right for you. Websites don’t have “opening times” the same as physical shops do! So, if you want to shop for a pair of socks at 2 am, you can!
If like me and you use a PC, then another benefit is you can have several tabs open comparing the same item across different sites to check for delivery time/charges, price of the item and of course returns policy. Can you imagine doing that on the high street, even if you’re not a wheelchair user? I love the fact I can sit at my desk, a cup of tea beside me and settle down to browse gifts for family/friends in the warmth of my own home.
The Downside of Shopping Online
When shopping online, images of products are of course going to be great looking. After all, the company is trying to sell you their product. You only have to read my review of Tapi Carpets to see the issues you can have.
- You can’t feel the item – Texture, material
- Smell the item – Some fake leather products can smell really bad
- Colour is not always the same when viewing on a monitor
- Judge sizing when shopping for items such as clothing.
- Solitary experience.
I have bought things that look great online but once received, the material is of lesser quality, or the item is smaller, or worse, turns up broken or faulty. I have bought a Christmas present that looked a good size and quality online but having received it, I know it’s going to be a big disappointment to the recipient! No doubt it will have to be returned. Sometimes you just want to see an item in the flesh.
I have done 90% of my Christmas shopping online this year. I’ve used brand company websites, eBay and Amazon. Companies I’ve not been familiar with and I have to say, I’ve only had two incidents. One, where an item arrived broken and another replaced by a lesser quality item than what was advertised. Both of which have been sorted fairly easily.
Security Measures in Place
Online Christmas Shopping During A Pandemic As A Disabled Person – Making sure you are aware of the pitfalls of shopping online is paramount! There are many ways things can go horribly wrong.
- Identity theft.
- Spam emails.
- Fake websites.
- Fake products.
- Cloned bank card – To name a few.
However, research is everything! It is important to gather as much information as possible about the company you are shopping online with. Once you have done these checks a few times, it will become easier to spot a dodgy website/product.
- Check websites address for HTTPS – If the company’s web address starts with HTTPS (especially on checkout pages), then you know your information is being sent over a secure network. – What is HTTPS?
- Pay with Paypal where possible – If you pay by Paypal, the company you are purchasing from will NOT have any information regarding your card details. Only your name, address, email address and phone number if supplied. The beauty is, you don’t even need to have a Paypal account to do this.
- Use a recommended website where possible – It’s always good practice to use website friends and family have used. You will know if they had a good or bad experience.
- Check delivery and returns policy – Things can go wrong and for this reason, always check the returns policy and make sure you agree with the company’s terms. You don’t want to get caught out when things are too late.
- Can you find the company address? – The Gov.uk website, says the following: Before an order is placed, you must provide: your business name, contact details and address, so it is helpful if you can find this as a lot of companies show pricing in GBP but originate and send products from another country.
If you do your research and check out the website the best you can, you should have a fairly pleasant experience. Yes, things will invariably go wrong, that’s life but you shouldn’t have too much of a problem getting the issue resolved. I will most definitely be doing my Christmas shopping online next year!
May I take this opportunity to wish you all very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Please look after yourself and others. Here’s hoping next year will bring better things to all.