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Consumer Reports Online Buying Advice

Boot Camp feature for Friday, November 13, 1998

The advantages and disadvantages of buying online. I'm Fred Fishkin with Bootcamp, a report on computers and technology. More and more people, it seems, are willing to give online shopping a try. You can visit virtual stores any hour of the day or night, avoid the crowds, and sometimes, save money. Consumer Reports conducted a recent test of online shopping...

"We asked thirty people to go ahead and make four different kinds of purchases in whatever way they found out how to do it and then compared what the results were."

Consumer Reports New Media Director Nancy Macagno. Generally, the news was pretty good. Using your credit card online really should not be a major concern...

"What we have found is that there really isn't a lot of basis for that concern in many cases."

You can protect yourself by making sure your browser is in a secure mode before entering credit card information. Also look for privacy statements that describe what the merchant agrees it will or won't do with your name and address and such. Ironically, one of the drawbacks to online shopping is the size of the Internet...

"You may be overwhelmed by the number of sites you find or the number of choices you have."

And shipping costs can vary greatly. Make sure you find out what the total price is including shipping before you click that buy button. You can find lots of valuable information, some requires a subscription, at consumerreports.org