Saturday 22 October 2016

Sipping and clicking is the new threat to your bank balance

Published 22/07/2015 | 02:30

Things seem less expensive when you've had a couple of glasses of wine (Stock image)
Things seem less expensive when you've had a couple of glasses of wine (Stock image)

Sipping and clicking is becoming a serious pastime for many people as they surf the web and shop late at night.

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With tablets, iPhones and laptops providing internet access 24/7, we can buy anything, anywhere at any time.

The danger lies in what you are sipping and how fast you're drinking.

People are making expensive mistakes and buying rubbish online while tipsy.

I've done it myself. I was out recently with a friend whose jeans I admired. She wrote down the website she'd bought them on and told me to get a pair as they were "great value". We finished our wine and I went home.

I duly logged on to the website and bought what I thought were grey jeans.

A week later a pair of green jeans turned up in the post. Shopping with one eye closed is clearly not conducive to colour clarity.

At least my purchase wasn't too expensive, but some people are running up huge Visa bills shopping late at night while downing alcohol.

We all get a little looser when we've had a few drinks. Things seem less expensive when you've had a couple of glasses of wine or beer.

You feel you deserve that holiday, those concert tickets, that super-size barbecue.

A survey in the UK showed that people spend an average of £142 (€202) shopping online while drunk, with lobster pots and diving equipment among some of the more bizarre items people have ordered.

While the odd silly purchase can be funny, some people are getting themselves into serious debt shopping online while drinking.

Shopping is described as "retail therapy" and it's often people who are lonely, depressed or bored who spend time buying things they don't need online.

Apparently it's the middle-aged who are among the shoppers who need to be most careful.

Empty-nest syndrome or loss of a spouse can lead to online shopping sprees to fill the void.

But even for those not looking to "medicate by shopping" it's impossible to get away from the ads. No matter what website I'm on, ads for a fashion website I've bought from keep popping up.

Somehow they always seem to show me really nice items that I'm tempted to buy. It's like being stalked by nice clothes.

As someone who spends a lot of time in front of a computer, this can be very dangerous. I don't even need the alcohol to make me cave in - I do it completely sober.

I have one friend who called her credit card company to complain of theft. Her Visa bill was so large that she was convinced someone - other than her - had been using it. It turned out the bill was due to her late-night online shopping.

She shamefacedly hung up and vowed never to shop after drinking again. She lasted a week.

While over-shopping is by no means the worst decision you can make when the beer goggles come on, it can be among the most expensive.

As in the case of my friend, people often don't remember what they bought.

There's even a new "drunk shopping" app to help you buy utter rubbish while inebriated. Drunk Shopping sends you a picture of something useless, such as a tasteless T-shirt or giant roll-out piano in the early hours of Sunday morning to try to catch out worse-for-wear party-goers.

The website says it's "the shopping experience that delights in sloppy judgment". They specifically target people at two in the morning when consumers are at their drunkest and most foolish.

Just as bad decisions are often made in a pub after midnight, the same can be said for online shopping. Perhaps we should try to play online games - not of the gambling variety - to distract us.

Or we could just go to bed and avoid ads, pop ups, "special deals" and the temptation to spend money on rubbish - or in my case green jeans that I'm now saving for Paddy's Day.

Irish Independent

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