Online Shopping Fails (And How To Avoid Them)

A crying lady holding her hand to her face


Online shopping is quick, convenient and fail-safe. Except for when it isn't. Here's a look at some of the worst online shopping mishaps, plus a handy guide on how to avoid becoming the butt of the joke yourself.


Online shopping has been growing in popularity for years now, and the pandemic (and lockdown) has only accelerated that trend. According to at least one estimate, South Africa's e-commerce industry will be worth a staggering R225 billion by 2025.


Most online retailers have upped their game to meet that increased demand. Some have not.


When size matters


An American woman was astounded when the ghost chair she ordered off Amazon arrived looking smaller than she expected. Like, a lot smaller...



Look, she should have checked the dimensions before she pressed the 'buy' button. But as she wrote: "I'm sorry ok, I saw $10 and just bought it." We're sure her pinkie toe was grateful to have a place to rest.


And finally, when one orders a rug for one's bedroom, one expects a tad more coverage than this...


via MEME


Even your rugrats wouldn't get much use out of that.




When the mother of a girl named Emily ordered a cake with a blond (sic) girl on top, autocorrect changed "blond girl" to "blind girl" and the results were... not what she'd hoped for:


via MEME


It's best to read what you (and those darn autobots) have written before you click 'confirm'.


At a loss for words


Word Tees, shirts with words or simply T-shirts. No matter what you call them, when the wrong words are printed on said garment, they can either be just plain weird, as this doctor (or are they a pepper?) discovered ...



Or outright (albeit unintentionally) offensive...


Book not-so-smart


One of the most popular products ordered online, books are a pretty straightforward digital purchase. At least they should be...


You're going to have to take a deep breath before checking out this online shopping fail:



Here's hoping the unlucky recipient had reached a place of serenity before they lodged their complaint.


While there's a case to be made for the lack of literary skill behind Fifty Shades of Grey, there's no denying it began as a 514-page novel. Someone on eBay obviously missed the memo – or decided to have a bit of a laugh – when they sent this to an excited online shopper:


My friend ordered 50 shades of grey on ebay, this is what she received.


Getting what you want


Fortunately, these online shopping fails are more the exception than the rule. If you're careful when you shop online, you should be (relatively) safe from that particular Regret Monster. Use these handy smart online shopping tips to ensure you're saving and getting the products you actually want:


1. Use reputable retailers: Shop on a legitimate site, one that's widely known or that people you know have ordered from. Always read the reviews and base your decision on the average opinion of a wide variety of users.


2. Check the returns policy: Wrong item? Incorrect size? Total dud? The online store's returns, exchange and shipping policy will determine whether you'll live with the regret of your shopping fail for life.


That's why it's vital to read the fine print before you proceed to checkout. It's also advisable to use your credit card for online purchases as card issuers can assist you with refunds from domestic retailers.


3. Compare and contrast: It pays to compare. When shopping online, you're likely to find the same or similar items on multiple sites. Don't kick yourself for paying R500 for a blanket you could have purchased for R200. Do your research!


4. Measure up! When you're buying clothing online, relying on a simple S/M/L will not suffice. There ain't no fitting rooms on the Internet, which is why most sites offer sizing guides or measurement charts. So, pull out that tape measure and ensure you're not buying something you'll need to fast to fit into.


Ready for a session of online retail therapy? It'll help if you have the right connection. Check out our Home Fibre comparison tool to make sure you're getting the fastest speeds at the best price.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.

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