{21/10/2012}   Internet shopping

I was just browsing (foolish, I know) on Amazon ahead of a small scale shopping trip tomorrow and before I could stop myself I’d pressed “one-click” payment and my order was in for £35 of stuff I had had no intention of buying online.  This scares me enormously, particularly that one click payment thing, as not only is it distressingly easy to part with money this way, I was sent into a mini frenzy as just – JUST – prior to clicking to “pay now”, my cat walked across the keyboard. I once found some unwanted shoe laces in my shopping basket (in more sensible days when I didn’t have one-click pay set up!) from her paw action so I have reason to fear she could have clicked on something inappropriate and potentially expensive.  However, the things I bought were going to be shopped for in London tomorrow when I knew I’d have a few hours to kill.  I am either scuppered for activities or I’m susceptible to a second, unnecessary, shop.

I know the Internet is great, offering more variety, more competitive prices, easy access to reviews and all this without leaving home.  However, would I have bought the three things I did?  Oh, actually today’s shop is a bad example as I would have done.  I also saved money on two of the three things by getting them online.  I’m all a fluster now as I was poised to rant about how you don’t really save money buying online because you end up buying things you wouldn’t have done otherwise … I see this is a heavily flawed argument.  I may have to conclude that I love the idea of going shopping much more, the actual event of going on a shopping trip, I also like to pick things up, feel them, read them, etc, and I also really want to support shops, particularly in these financially trying times.

However, it shames me to say that I did get a simper of a thrill from my one-click purchase of three things that I had been wanting/needing for ages and that I saved about £7 buying them online.  It shames me even more to say that one of the things I bought was a travel guide and I had already decided which one I wanted, having been into three or four shops to make that decision based on reading a few pages, checking out the pictures, etc.  So I had benefited from seeing and looking at books in shops, all at the full price of c£17, then went online and bought it for c£13.  I feel slightly guilty.  I was even looking forward to going out of my way to either Stanfords in Covent Garden or Daunt Books in Marylebone to buy the book, choosing those stores over the Waterstone’s, WH Smith’s or Foyles branches I had visited on my research missions.

All that said, for what it’s worth, I loved going into those bookshops with a purpose and I enjoyed looking at different guidebooks and making a reasoned choice as to which suited me best.  Plus, I was looking forward to going to Stanfords or Daunt as they are shops that make me feel comfortable, happy and like I’m about to go somewhere really exciting – the preserve of travel book shops in my mind.

As for inadvertently buying online today, it was all done very quickly and as I didn’t even need my wallet to pay for my goods, I’m slightly unaware that there is a debit on my account as a result of that little browse.  Ha, so maybe that’s another good reason to shop in shops: the handing over of cash or a card is a reminder that you are about to part with money, thus it is more likely to make you think twice about whether you really need to make that purchase.  Oh, and I can’t even read my book or use my laptop speakers because I have to wait for their arrival in the next three to five working days, which is likely to be when I’m at work so I’ll have to take the card to the Post Office to collect them …


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