Are you a Harbor Freight fanatic but stuck in an area without one? You can order from them online and access their coupons too. Even if you plan to go to their store in person, signup for their email newsletter and they will send you sales ads and coupons that you can print out to take with you. Some coupons can be used online. Their shipping rate is very reasonable if you order more than one item.
Last week was Black Friday in all the stores and it is continuing through this week. Unfortunately, I’m stuck guarding a gate I can’t leave. What’s a girl to do? I fired up my laptop and shopped all the sales online. The one thing I wanted from Wal-Mart last year was sold out when I got there but I managed to snag the deal this year online. If I don’t like it or there is a problem with it when it arrives, I can easily return it direct to the nearest Wal-Mart store within 90 days. Black Friday just doesn’t get any easier! Of course, not all the deals will be online such as the door busters but sometimes they will surprise you with hourly deals just as good. As I write this, my new Black Friday sewing machine just arrived at my gate. Happy dance!
Will they ship somewhere that is not my home address? YES! Most will though it is harder if you use Paypal. Be sure you get the shipping address exactly correct and the billing address is the same as what you normally use for your credit card. One recently asked me to use Verified By Visa (free bank service) after taking the order to prove I was the true credit card owner. It is possible your credit card company will reject it if they are not used to you traveling. Just give them a call if needed. Bank of America is notorious for that.
What about the time it takes to ship and shipping costs? Be aware of how long you plan to be in your current campground, the campground’s policy on deliveries (most will accept UPS and FedEx at the office but not US mail) and the store’s shipping time which can vary by season. If you checkout and find the estimated time they quote is too long, either cancel the order immediately or contact their support online to have them do it for you. You can pay more to ship faster (lots more!) or have it sent to a campground you have a reservation at though that is risky and you should let the new campground know. Otherwise, shipping costs are generally not that bad and may be offset by the time and gas it would take to go to a store. If you shop Amazon a lot, get an Amazon Prime membership for free shipping on thousands of items, free returns shipping, free book borrowing, free movie and TV show streaming, and free 2 day delivery. The $79/yr. cost is well worth it. I personally prefer store shopping where you can see and touch an item, get it now (the yuppie in me), and return it easier but online shopping really works great too. It won’t replace store shopping but sure does add to it.
Is it safe, though? Recently, a group has hacked a major credit/debit card processor for brick and mortar stores and has been stealing credit card numbers from local grocery stores in one area. Crime happens offline too. Shopping online can be reasonably safe with some precautions. Use a payment processor like Paypal whenever possible to keep the merchant from getting and storing your credit card info. The fewer places that have your card info the better. If a Paypal-like option is not available, use a regular credit card rather than a debit card. With a debit card, they can raid your bank account which can take months or even years to straighten out while with a credit card, you can protest any charge and they don’t have direct access to your cash. If you do use a credit card, you may want to transfer money immediately to it as a payment for the amount you will be charging or move it to a savings account to be sure it is there when the bill comes due.
There are other things you can do for better security. Read your monthly statements to look for unauthorized charges. Always double-check the URL in the address bar of your browser. It should start with “https” which means your connection with the site is encrypted. Check the full URL to be sure you actually are shopping at the right store and not a fake copy site. Use a strong 10 character or more password for your store account that includes letters and numbers, uppercase and lowercase, no full words, and if possible, a special character (.,&%!^*). If an online store or bank sends you an email notice of any problem, do not click on the link in the email. Go to the usual URL you use for the store by typing it in yourself and then contact their support/help desk from there.
In summary, if you are the type of RVer who likes to spend a week or more at a place to fully explore it, online shopping can be a real winner for you. Most stores these days do have a website. Just don’t run up those credit cards all year or blame me to your spouse. 😉
Notice: I am affiliated with Amazon and Wal-Mart but I am also an avid customer of theirs.