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'We'll buy about half of our presents on the internet'

Karen Farren and her three teenage daughters, Evan, Jordan and Megan, from Kilmacud in County Dublin, shop online regularly and have been doing so for about 10 years. Her son Luke and husband Paul also do, but not as much.

They use online shopping mainly for fashion, flights, holidays and electronics, and their favourite sites include Amazon.com, Pixmania.com and aggregator or directory sites like An Post's Iloveshopping.ie and Mydealpage.ie.

They expect to use the internet for about half of their Christmas purchases, but also for research. "But even before we go out and pound the streets of Dublin, we pound the internet to see where we can get things and to get ideas of what we are going to buy," says Karen.

They have had a couple of negative experiences though.

In one case, Evan bought a dress from a UK-based website similar to one she saw on a US site, but opted to buy the one from the UK so as to avoid the customs duty. However, they were asked to pay €20 customs when it arrived in Ireland because it turned out the item was actually posted from China.

"Nowhere on the site did it say the dress was coming from China," said Karen.

Karen and Evan recently paid for the dress via Paypal, which they assumed to be one of the safest online payment methods, but they've been disappointed because the company failed to get them all their money back.

Now, they only shop at trusted sites, pay only by credit card, and make sure to find out where an item is being despatched from.

Irish Independent