Advice for when you buy by phone

Shopping is easier than ever. Shelves are bulging at retail stores. Online sources are multiplying faster than rabbits in a pen. Malls and shopping centers abound. Despite the array of ways in which to participate in a hefty round of shopping, there is a method preferred for many reasons by multitudes of savvy shoppers. It requires no travel. It is conducted ear-to-ear in a manner that brings one person in touch with another. It is called: buy by phone.

Read catalogs carefully: If you plan to buy by phone after perusing the latest catalog from any supplier, read that catalog carefully. Make notes about your order before speaking with a customer service agent. Product information such as exchange policies and details about refunds can be noted. Knowing the essentials saves time when your call is made.

Track your transaction: Always ask the customer service representative his or her name. Ask how the name is spelled. Write down the date and the time you talked to that person. Note any possible problems mentioned such as delays in shipping and jot down when you were told to expect your merchandise.

Speak out loud: Make sure your voice is one that relays your desires without any doubt. Mumbling and poor diction makes a mistake a certainty when dealing over the phone with sales associates who probably are wearing headphones. Speak clearly and speak slowly when you buy by phone.

Specify the edition: Catalogs are wonderful vehicles for spreading the news about new products. But most catalogs also are crammed with old favorites. When you buy by phone, make sure you tell the sales agent what edition of the catalog you are referencing. Summer and winter catalogs might contain similar items whose prices have changed. Double check to avoid unpleasant billing surprises.

Beware of errors: Sometimes, thousands of products may be listed in a single publication. When you buy by phone, be aware that not every error is caught in the proofreading process. If a product’s price, size or measurement looks like it is a misprint, ask about it. There may be a discount for you as a reward for bringing the error to the company’s attention.

Include extra info: When you buy by phone, realize that your order will be arriving via parcel post or by way of various shipping companies. Include support details such as where to leave the package if you are not home. Leave at garage door. Place on porch, etc. Your package will be less likely to be returned to the shipper if you offer alternative instructions when buying by phone.

Pay your way: It’s so easy to buy by phone. Payment nowadays can be made by credit card or through an online payment service. These convenient services require a membership but the company safeguards your personal information and acts as the middleman between your funds and the merchant’s request for payment.

Watch your mail: You may occasionally get a notice via postcard that the item you ordered by phone is unavailable at the present time. Make sure to return that card promptly and clearly mark your options. You may cancel. You may say you will wait until the item arrives. Or, you may call the toll-free number to substitute other merchandise that is in stock and ready to ship.

Say cheese: When you buy by phone, find out the name of the big cheese at the company. Ask the sales associate on the phone where you would direct a letter if you were inclined to write one. Corporate offices and call centers often are located in different cities. If you buy by phone and have a subsequent dispute, it is a good thing to know where to write and what person is in charge there.

Commend on occasion: Today’s shopper often buys by phone because it is so convenient. When all goes well, the transaction is a joy. You call. The agent takes your order. The merchandise arrives in good condition. You have noted the name of the agent on your transaction notes. Have you not? Why not call and let that person know you are pleased. A little thanks goes a long way when you buy by phone.

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