Larry Magid: Ensuring safe holiday shopping

I write a column about safe holiday shopping nearly every year at this time, but this year is special. We are (hopefully) coming out of a pandemic which affected many of our shopping habits, and we are also dealing with some supply shortages and — in the Bay Area and elsewhere — a rash of robberies that could result in more stolen goods being sold online.

Larry Magid (Gary Reyes / Mercury News)

In past years, I would explain the basics of online shopping, but it’s hard to imagine there are many readers who haven’t experienced it by now, especially during periods when some brick-and-mortar stores were closed due to COVID. Even now, many people are doing much of their shopping online to completely avoid the risk of being exposed while shopping.

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What is different this year is the need to shop online as early as possible and the need to be extra vigilant to avoid stolen goods on platforms where individuals are empowered to sell products.

You want to shop as early as possible because we’re dealing with a global supply chain issue. Many popular and even some not-so-popular gift items are likely to be out of stock at various times during the season. Even now, you might have trouble finding some items, but keep trying. They may be stuck on a ship somewhere that — with any luck — will soon find its way to a port. Or they might be just coming off the assembly line. Do be patient but also be flexible, some online merchants, including Amazon, will show you alternate product choices, so if you’re making a list and checking it twice, be sure you have some alternate choices.

It may also be a good time to give gifts that don’t come from a UPS or Amazon truck. They could be homemade, from local merchants or handmade items from craft people you encounter in your community or online. Gift certificates are always an option, and as crass as it may seem, you may have some people on your list who would appreciate a cash influx via Paypal, Venmo via old-fashion currency, a check or a person-to-person payment system like Paypal, Venmo or Zelle.

I like to give Kiva gift certificates, especially to pre-teens and teens. Kiva is a non-profit microfinancing service that lends money to underserved borrowers around the world. The person who gets your gift certificate gets to pick who they fund from a long list …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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