Wednesday, July 11, 2012

An Online Shopper's Guide – Part 3: Online Payments Security and Discount Coupons

This part of the guide relates to the most important thing related to online shopping: Payments and your money.

Enter payment details only on secure pages:

This is relevant to you only if you want to pay for your order via credit card, debit card or net banking. This is the most important step while making online payments.

When you click on the ‘Payment’ button, the site should take you to a secure payment page. Before you enter your payment details, always check the URL of the page in the address bar. If it is a secured page, it should say ‘https’ instead of ‘http’, where the ‘s’ in ‘https’ stands for ‘secured’. Also, you can see a lock sign next to the company name that owns that secured page. See the screenshot below.

If the payment page shows ‘http’, DO NOT enter your sensitive payment details. Secure Online Payment Page. 
Click on image to see enlarged view.

Use Virtual Keypad to enter bank password:

While transacting online, always use the 'Enter password using Virtual Keypad' option to enter your bank password. This will show a keyboard on the secure screen, where you can click on the letters/numbers buttons to enter your password. This way your password remains secure even if there is some tracking/spy software installed on your computer. Avoid typing your password. 

Transaction Failure:

This is relevant to you only if you want to pay for your order via credit card, debit card or net banking. Sometimes you have almost placed the order and the online payment transaction fails at the last moment. Most websites automatically cancel your failed order within 24 hours. Till then the order status keeps showing as pending and you can see it under the ‘My Account’ section on some sites.

With credit/debit cards, sometimes money gets deducted even though the order was not placed successfully. After completing the payment process, you see an error page instead of an order confirmation page, and still money gets deducted.

What to do?

Take a screenshot of the screen immediately and save it. Your computer’s time/clock and the website URL should be visible in the screenshot. In all such cases, money is automatically returned to your card within 4-5 business days. Still to be on the safer side, send an email to customer care with the screenshot and a proof of payment (a copy of account statement clearly showing the balance deducted or an email from your bank about successful payment). If money is not returned even after 4-5 business days (though this never happens), and you have a valid proof of payment, the business should refund you the money.

At times, these online businesses themselves call you proactively when they see that you tried to pay but your transaction had failed.

Understanding and Using Discount/Promotional/Gift coupons:

Discount coupons online Shopping
Image Courtesy
Using Multiple Coupons:

You have an email from a website with a 15% discount on skin care items. But you want to buy other stuff too. Can you use the coupon?... Yes, definitely. You need to know here that coupons have terms and conditions attached. Some websites let you use multiple coupons, one after the other in a single transaction, while some do not let you do that.

Example, you have a 15% discount coupon on skin care items and another 10% discount coupon on L’Oreal brand. After clicking on checkout and before making the payment, you see a Coupon box where you can redeem your coupon. Enter the first coupon there. It will reduce the price on the skin care items in your cart and you can see the updated amount side by side. Then use the next coupon and will reduce the price on all L’Oreal items in your cart by 10% and the rest of the items will remain with their actual price.

The two coupons should not overlap each other. If there was an item which comes under skin care and is from the L’Oreal brand (meaning the item comes under both coupon categories in this example), the two coupons will overlap in this case and you cannot use them one after the other. In that case, you will need to place two different orders to avail the two coupons.

Types of Coupon discounts:

Some coupon discounts work on whichever higher basis and others on additional discount

Sites like / offer coupons which work on whichever higher basis. Meaning if a lipstick is available at the site at a 8% discount for Rs 350 and the coupon says 10% discount on lipsticks, it means you can buy it for a total 10% discount on the MRP (as 10% is the higher of the two discounts). This is explained in detail in review here.

Whereas, sites like mostly offers coupons with additional discounts. Meaning if a lipstick is available at the site at a 8% discount for Rs 350 and the coupon says additional 10% discount, it means you can buy it for a total 18% discount on the MRP.

Understanding discounts:

Please know that the discount is mostly on selected products. For example, if the email says 10% discount on face care, it does not mean that the 10% discount applies to all face care items sold by the site. If you see a discount code on the website, or their Facebook page or in an email from that website, there is always a buy now link there. Clicking on it will take you to the list of items which come under that discount scheme. Discount on the entire range will clearly mention x% on the 'entire' / 'complete' range.

Coupon redeemed but transaction failed:

At checkout, you redeem your coupon and then make the payment. When you redeem the coupon, you can immediately see your discounted bill amount and then click on the ‘Payment’ button. While making the payment, if your transaction failed, or your browser closed accidentally or your internet connection got disconnected, you lose the coupon. This means, when you reopen or refresh the page, it says ‘Coupon Redeemed’ but the bill amount goes back to the original amount instead of the discounted amount. You cannot redeem that coupon again in that order.

What to do?

Contact customer care over phone/email and tell them to cancel the order. Then you place a new order and redeem the coupon again. If you had opted for Cash on Delivery (COD), the customer care can edit the same order for you and reapply the coupon successfully. They will complete the order on your behalf.

Hope you find the above information helpful. By now you should be confident enough to make online purchases and be a smart buyer.

*I have given examples only on online shopping websites from India, because that’s where I mainly shop from. But all the topics covered apply to all international shoppers too.

I would also love to hear from you your good/bad/exceptional shopping experience(s) with these or any other online businesses. Please leave your valuable comments.

Happy Online Shopping!


  1. Thanks for another informative site. Where else could I get that type of information written in such an ideal way.

  2. I just wanted to say thank you for touching on the subject on online shopping. This information will help to users against fraud cases which happens in online shopping, so We need to follow some guidelines for safe online shopping. Be alert during paying a payment at online stores. Thanks once again.

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    1. You are welcome Paul and that's what I am aiming at: reader enlightenment and empowerment! Thanks for reading and for your feedback.

  3. Where can we get coupons (say for medplus beauty)....

    1. To receive promotional codes/coupons, you just need to go to the site and subscribe to their promotional newsletter by entering your email ID. There is a subscription box on the home page of every site. So whenever there is any discount scheme or coupon code, you receive an email. Do make sure to check your 'Spam' folder as such emails many times get delivered into spam folder. Then click on 'Not Spam' so next time it comes to your inbox. They publish such codes on their Facebook page too, so you can 'Like' their page. But recently Facebook has changed policies and you may not receive all notifications.


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