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You can shop safely online [Nation (Kenya)]
[January 15, 2014]

You can shop safely online [Nation (Kenya)]

(Nation (Kenya) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Whether you want groceries, gifts, or air ticket booking, you can pay for these deals online.

But the risk associated with paying for the items either using your debit or credit card often from retailers based in foreign markets is very high.

Navigating the Internet to get a trusted company website that can facilitate fool-proof transactions can sometimes be very tasking, especially for inexperienced buyers. One can easily end up buying faulty goods, and since there might be no provision to return them to the seller, one could easily lose money.

Money went out to look at some of the things that online buyers need to consider before paying for items online. This will in turn help shoppers practice due diligence to avoid losing cash unwittingly.

IDENTIFY SAFE SITES Speaking to Money, Jumia Online Shopping boss Nick Miller said that the company only deals with official distributors and resellers to ensure that their items are genuine.

"We also hold everything in our warehouse and therefore do quality check of every single product before we sell it. We screen all our suppliers to make sure they comply with our guidelines and therefore can guarantee that there is no risk of fraudsters when buying from Jumia," he added.

Mr Miller however points out that a buyer is allowed to return an item once sold but on condition that it is within seven days and in perfect condition (for fashion items) or sealed for electronic goods.

"We are a business to consumer (B2C) platform and not consumer to consumer (C2C) so we do not have this risk," he pointed out.

With increased availability of broadband access, more affordable data costs and the consistent development of handset devices, online shopping is gaining a lot of attraction.  But how do you spot a safe website to transact? Before sharing your credit or debit card details, look out for a small padlock icon at webpage you are interacting with. Always look for a web address starting with https:// the 's' here denotes that the website is secure.

Always keep off sites that run offers that look too good to be true.

FAULTY GOODS Kenya's consumer protection Act 2012 gives a buyer cushion if the goods purchased are not of the right quality.

"The supplier is supposed to warrant that the goods or services supplied under a consumer agreement are of a reasonably tradable quality," reads the law in part.

It also stipulates that is an unfair for a person (seller) to make a false, misleading or deceptive representation that the goods or services have sponsorship, approval, performance characteristics, accessories, uses, ingredients, benefits or qualities which they do not have.

CHOOSE FROM VARIETY OF SELLERS Shipping giant DHL Express managing director Kenya, Mr Alan Cassels says consumers are increasingly choosing to buy gifts online from both local and foreign retailers in an effort to benefit from a wide range of products at competitive prices in the global market at any time that is most convenient to them.

"With improved infrastructure, in terms of information and communications technology, online safety and security, more people are choosing to make use of online shopping over traditional brick and mortar outlets due to the variety of products available to them at just a click of a button," says Mr Cassels.

Online business is now a battleground for both local and international companies as industry giants race to outdo each other.

For instance, Uchumi Supermarket launched its online shopping platform in January last year, joining Naivas and Nakumatt who started e-commerce transactions in 2012.

Footwear retailer, Bata, is also another firm that has turned to online presence seeking to tap billions of shillings in sales.

MODES OF PAYMENT Visa, MasterCard, and mobile payment platforms, M-Pesa, Airtel Money among others are some of the commonly used modes of payment in online shopping.

The modes of payment used also determine how a shopper has steered clear of fraud. ePepea Online Supermarket owner Winfred Gacheri says credit cards offer better protection from fraud than visa cards.

If a fraudster steals your credit card number and uses it, they will be stealing the bank's money, but if they get your visa card number and use it, they will be stealing your money and you will need to reason with your bank on how to get the cash back, she says.

ePepea enables buyers to select the goods, calculates the value of the shopping and gives the buyer an option to save a shopping list, besides keeping a record of all transactions.

To shop, one must open a virtual account, giving the required details. As one buys, the total spend is adjusted on the platform. The charges include tax, packing, and postage and carriage.

"By creating an account, you shop faster, get an updated order status, and keep track of the orders you have previously made," Ms Gacheri says.

CUSTOMS REGULATION While online shopping has many benefits, DHL boss says not many Kenyan consumers are aware of the regulations involved in importing products, a mistake that could see consumers incur unexpected costs.

"For instance, all shipments transported across international borders must be cleared through customs, where, depending on the type of goods, they may also be subject to other restrictions and regulations.

"There are goods such as clothing that attract high rates of duty and are subject to interventions by customs where the price, contents and country of origin are often interrogated to mitigate a wide range of risks," he points out.

He adds that confirming any possible restrictions attached to particular goods is vital and should be the first action taken by consumers before making an online buy in order to avoid incurring extra charges when the goods are held by customs officials.

There are three main costs associated with shipment and clearance of goods: the cost of the goods payable to the shipper, the transport costs to the customer's door, and the clearing costs at the port of entry — customs.

In most cases, the duties and taxes payable in the country of destination cannot be accurately determined by the overseas seller and these charges are not included by the retailer in their quotations to the customer.

As a result, on arrival at the port of entry, these charges are billed to and payable by the customer before the package can be claimed – at times huge levies come as utter surprise to the customer.

This could result in the landed cost (the total amount of all costs) of the e-retail merchandise becoming unbearable by the buyer, an occurrence that could potentially dash their dreams of being repeat online customers.

"It is advisable for consumers to speak to the online retailer or a local expert should they be unsure about any rules that may apply to their purchase," Mr Cassels concludes.

************ Understand what import rules say 1. Import taxes and duty: These levies are calculated based on the value of the imported goods. Check with the taxman on the different duty charges which various types of goods attract at the port of entry.

2. Customs clearance: Depending on the good, various levels of customs clearance might be necessary. This could delay your shipment due to processing or physical inspection, so it is important to order your goods well in advance, to ensure they arrive in time.

3. Courier services: Go for shipment companies that have established good working relationship with customs and local authorities in order to ensure a speedy clearance and delivery of your goods. Reputable firms would also ensure that the goods get to you in time and in the right shape — without damage. Firms with wide global network would also ensure that you fetch your good from far flung markets 4. Gifts: In most countries, gifts are only acceptable between individuals and a full description of the contents is required, the generic description, "gift" is not accepted. Again, this varies from country to country. Find out what the regulations stipulate in your country or the nation to which you are sending the gift.

5. Shipment costs: It is important to establish what costs the shipper and the customer will shoulder prior to shipping of the goods. This would help you budget for the expense well in advance.

Yvonne Kawira (c) 2014 Nation Media Group. All Rights Reserved. Provided by, an company

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