Internet Shopping – Good Or Bad? Essay, Research Paper
Shopping on the Internet is increasing but would you do business this way?The Internet?s popularity has dramatically escalated over the past few years and has become an integral part of daily life. It has wide spread uses ranging from, obtaining information, downloading files, business advertisement to Internet commerce, which plays a major part in Internet practice. Our social structure is pressuring society to connect to the Internet, with schools world wide becoming more Web based and universities now have lectures, which can be solely viewed over the Internet. Within the next few years the potential and capabilities of the Internet are endless. With that in mind the following assignment will examine a continuously flourishing component of the Internet, Internet shopping. Although Internet shopping is on the increase, it will never surpass conventional shopping, as the ?experience of shopping? is lost, it is open to fraud and the ?try before you buy? concept does not occur. From this information, it could be stated, ?The promise of Internet shopping is drowning in a flood of deceit, customer dissatisfaction, fraud and misappropriation. The Internet is best known for being a information superhighway, not a superhighway to the shopping mall.?
Shopping from the convenience and comfort of your own home may have its apparent advantages; no more standing in line, no more hassles. Currently people are using the Internet for shopping largely as it offers some benefits when compared with conventional shopping, for a narrow range of goods and services. Given that, there are still concerns about risks involved ? many issues from security of credit cards to privacy
Purchasing products from the Internet has major disadvantages when compared to conventional shopping. A significant problem is you cannot see the store you are buying from. On the Internet, it can be difficult to know whether the business you are dealing with is honest or not. When your credit card number is given to a marketing site in order to purchase goods, there is no certain guarantee that it will be used for the purpose it was intended for. Many unscrupulous internet web sites, use promises of miracle cures, and other hoaxes in order to exploit their users in an effort to gain credit card numbers and use them, for their own personal gain. However many web sites are creditable, but the security of their web page then may be violated. (By ?Hackers?)
When a user ?surfs? into an online store and submits an order form with a credit card number, the information is then transmitted from their computers modem via local telephone lines to their Internet Service Provider (ISP) and then over the Internet. The order may go to an intermediary or directly to the merchant’s server. Companies vary as to when they process their credit card details. Some do immediately, while others wait until the product has been shipped out to the customer. Anywhere along that path in which the information travelled, the security of their credit card number may have been compromised. Numerous Internet hackers ?surf? the Internet constantly looking for low security web pages in which to prey on.
?An intruder invaded more than 485,000 credit cards and secretly stored the massive database on a U.S. government agency’s Web site. While the credit card companies notified financial institutions, the customers were never informed. Many compromised accounts remain open to this day? (Perfectly Private Inc, Shopping Privacy Concerns) This is the main reason why many internet users don?t shop online, as their credit card details could me misused, which results in the customer having to pay for their deceitful act. ?Two 18-year-old boys in Wales were arrested after allegedly stealing and distributing 26,000 credit card files from 5 different sites. Estimated losses: $3 million.? (Perfectly Private Inc, Shopping Privacy Concerns
Not only can credit card details be stolen, but also many merchant sites sell and store massive databases of information about each customer they have, compromising the customers? privacy and confidentiality. ?The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) scrutiny of 229 Australian websites uncovered credit card fraud, privacy breaches and poor trading safeguards by e-commerce retailers.? (Perfectly Private Inc, Shopping Privacy Concerns
Many web sites try to tailor their market towards each individual customer. Many merchant sites greet you by name and offer you products that the consumer had purchased through other web pages. This information is obtained from cookie files that are located on Internet users hard drives that keep track of the Internet sites users visit. In turn, the merchant sites that use that information to make the customers Internet experience and more personalised, at the expense of the customer?s privacy.
Practically all-leading online retailers store your identification, shipping address and credit card numbers, so you won?t have to continuously input those details every time you visit that web page. Many merchants web sites ask consumers for additional information so they can customize their shopping experience and thus sell the consumers more. The result is that favourite online merchants collect a lot of information about consumers, that is worth money to other marketers. This in turn produces the result that sometimes the customer?s private information changes hands. There is a huge market for personal information about customers on the Internet and elsewhere. As it reaches a third party, they can get their number and can clog up consumers email, fax and telephone line with unwanted sales pitches. ?A 1999 survey by Jupiter Communications found that nearly two-thirds of consumers worry about merchants selling their information.? (Perfectly Private Inc, Shopping Privacy Concerns
However, some sites are honest enough not to commit themselves to this practice. However, what if the purchase isn?t what the customer had in mind? There is no customer complaints desk to stroll up to and ask for a refund. In Australia, consumer protection laws protect customers in this kind of situation. However, when customers purchase from an over-seas online stores this protection is not available to them. Customers who receive unwanted or faulty goods, have no one to turn to. In addition, online shopping also poses other disadvantages. Consumers cannot physically inspect the product nor quickly make comparisons between products. (Or even try it on for size or fit.) This is a major drawback of Internet shopping as advertising maybe deceitful, and consumers may obtain products much different to what they believed they were purchasing. Delivery delays also place the consumer at risk, as there is no local store to enquire into what date the delivery will be expected to be made, and for any enquiries the consumer would like to ask about the product they are purchasing. ?A swoop on Australian Web-based retailers has revealed the majority refuse customer returns and refunds on faulty goods and lag behind other countries on privacy protection.? (Perfectly Private Inc, Shopping Privacy Concerns)
Shopping on the Internet, from the comfort of your armchair, maybe quick and easy but it lacks social stimulation. Going shopping for many consumers is a social experience, and is a diversion from their routines of everyday life. Therefore, if Internet shopping were to skyrocket, the future would bear a very bleak outlook. Of solitary consumers, mindlessly staring into computer monitors. This would lead to a world of inept, socially challenged consumers, where there was no physical interaction between consumers and the market place. (The sense of bartering would be lost) Grocery stores would shut down, and millions of jobs would be lost in which shopping centres would be replaced by giant warehouses to facilitate the Internet shopping consumers.
Internet Shopping poses a large risk to the average Internet consumer; it is open to fraud, deceit and brings about many dissatisfied customers. Internet hackers can steal credit card details, and consumer?s privacy is gravely at risk, while browsing around merchant websites. Furthermore, there is inadequate protection for Internet users against faulty products and deceitful retailers. The lack of the benefits of in-store shopping has many negative social aspects, robbing us of the diversion from routines of everyday life, sensory stimulation, social experiences and comparison of goods. In conclusion, this assignment has demonstrated that ?The promise of Internet shopping is drowning in a flood of deceit, customer dissatisfaction, fraud and misappropriation. The Internet is best known for being a information superhighway, not a superhighway to the shopping mall.? Furthermore, if Internet shopping does not develop its security features and customer service standards, consumers will discontinue to use Internet shopping altogether
BIBLIOGRAPHYPerfectly Private Inc (2001). ?Shopping Privacy Concerns?, URL Address: http://www.perfectlyprivate.com/beware_shopping.asMark Gajda (1997). ?Internet Shopping, Wave of the Future?? URL Address http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/STUDENTS/Gajda/FRAME2.HTMDepartment of Communications (2000). ?Shopping on the Internet – Facts for Consumers Series? URL Address: http://www.dcita.gov.au/nsapi-graphics/?MIval=dca_dispdoc&pathid=%2Fshoponline%2Fsheet1.htmCard Revolt (2000). ?Internet Shopping Guide? URL Address: http://www.cardrevolt.com/resources/netshopping.htmXpress Press (2000). ?Internet Christmas Shopping Risks? URL Address http://www.xpresspress.com/news/emailsolutions_103100.htm