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This guide tells you how to shop for and buy things on the Internet. After completing the guide, you will be able to shop around for and then buy records, books and consumer goods online.

What is online shopping?
There are thousands of shops across the world that sell goods over the Internet. They accept payment by credit card and ship the goods to you by post or using a courier company.

Why shop online?

Shopping online lets you find and compare prices across different shopsand also across different countries. Online shops have low overheads (rent,etc.), which let them drop prices.
It is important to remember that you also have to pay shipping (post orcourier) costs. These must be added to the price, to find out how much you actually pay.

Shopping online gives you access to a huge variety of goods, many ofthem not available on the high street. The more specialist your requirement,the more likely it is that the Internet will be a good place to find it. On theother hand, the stiff competition online means that consumer goods such aselectronics, books, music and clothes are available at excellent prices.

What if it does not fit/breaks?
Care is needed if you are buying something online which you would usually need to touch before purchasing. Just like mail-order, it is tedious to return goods that do not fit and then wait for a new size.

For some goods, buying across borders may have an effect on after-sales service and warranty. A so-called ‘grey market’ exists in some goods, where they are bought in a cheaper country and distributed in a more expensive country. Grey-market imports sometimes have warranty problems.

Where to buy from?
Due to the cost of shipping, buying goods from United States’ online retailers is rarely worthwhile. Shipping, VAT and customs charges can double the base price, while returns are almost impossible. This means that, with a few exceptions, the EU is the best place to shop. While the UK has the obvious language advantage, it is often worth looking at sites from Germany, the Netherlands, France and Spain, where online shopping is big business, prices are in euro and the market is much larger than Ireland.
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