|The Internet has become pervasive, with wireless access at local coffee shops, Borders Bookstore, Starbucks and the University of La Verne Wilson Library. Junior Anique Guerrier uses the computer labs on campus to surf the Net at least three times a day to check e-mail, to receive assignments from her professors and to shop for special deals.
Over the years, many individuals have taken advantage of all that the Internet has to offer. Shoppers log on to purchase rare or nostalgic gems, to secure brand names and a multitude of must-haves at bargain prices or to merely avoid retail outlets and department stores. Others have logged on to quickly view bank accounts, print statements, pay bills and even buy groceries, as the hoopla of the World Wide Web never ends.
But not everyone has given into the online frenzy so easily, and some have yet to be won over.
Smart consumers are weighing the pros and cons of both online shopping and banking rather than playing the odds.
“I have always been taught that it was unsafe to put information online so I do not feel comfortable doing it,” Heather Adams, a sophomore liberal studies major, said.
“I do not bank online because I feel like a small error can cause something much greater to happen and when it involves my money I am not willing to take that risk,” she added.
However, Jupiter Research predicted that 56 million U. S. households would join the online banking frenzy by 2008.
And Jesse Zamudio, teller supervisor at the Arcadia/Huntington Wells Fargo branch, also said online banking was an invaluable asset, allowing customers to satisfy most needs at home rather than waste precious time waiting in lines.
“There are plenty of benefits to having online banking,” Zamudio said. “You are able to check as soon as activities happen in your account, you are able to pay bills and make transfers and you are able to really manage your budget.”
Zamudio also waved aside privacy concerns, acknowledging that customers occasionally let the Internet get the best of them.
“Online banking is quite safe even though there are people who are just really afraid of the Internet,” Zamudio said. “Most of my customers feel that using the computer is quite complicated and troublesome, but the menu is quite easy to navigate. Once one tries online banking it becomes a tool that one can’t live without.”
Yet students have more readily grasped the excitement of online shopping – the thrill of deals and the arrival of packages – than the ease of online account inquiries. Internet sales increased by 25 percent in 2005 compared to sales in 2004, largely due to high-speed connections, according to a report by market research firm Emarketer.
“I shop a lot more than I realized; I buy books for school, lift tickets for Mountain High and things like that on a regular basis,” Adams said.
Krystle Luckey, a ULV senior movement and sports science major, also said she appreciated the expediency of online shopping.
She occasionally browsed through the pages of eBay in search of practical steals – expensive clothes and accessories for much less than market value – whenever the mood struck.
“I don’t do it that often, but it’s convenient and you don’t have to drive anywhere,” Luckey said. “Brand name clothes and shoes are also a lot cheaper online.”
Luckey also said she was satisfied with her online purchases; however, other students have not fared as well.
Mari Zavala, a freshman liberal studies major, said her online shopping habits were limited, as the click-to-buy option excluded fitting-room time and often resulted in extended shipping periods.
“It’s too difficult; if you don’t like what you buy or if the size is too big, you have to send it back and it takes too long,” Zavala said.
Valerie Rocha, a freshman movement and sports science major, also said she was disappointed several times, as she received items initially reported to be in excellent shape that arrived in less-than-perfect condition.
“I bought a set of ‘Mighty Max’ DVDs for my boyfriend, but they ended up being burnt and didn’t come with cases, which obviously wasn’t advertised,” Rocha said.
Nevertheless, Rocha’s faith in the online shopping arena was not deterred.
She currently awaits the arrival of two 500-count poker chip sets to accommodate her large group of Texas Hold’em-playing family and friends.
“It’s good to win, but I hate the wait,” Rocha said of bidding on eBay, proving rocker Tom Petty’s famed lyric, “The waiting is the hardest part,” true.
Pauolo Leviste, store manager of iSold It San Dimas, a business dedicated to putting dropped-off items up-for-grabs on eBay, said online shopping was the mark of the digital age.
“It’s easier to stay at home and shop than have a salesman try to convince you to buy something,” Leviste said. “It’s the wave of the future, in all honesty. It’s not even a good idea to go places such as Target or Best Buy when you can shop online. Essentially, it’s the only way to shop.”
Adams said she would probably one day succumb to the marvels of online shopping and banking, suggesting that ever-present security issues may fade overtime.
However, the thought of computers completely replacing face-to-face communication is still present in her mind.
“I think in the future, I will gain trust in the system and yes, even buy groceries online, but the outcome of that is pretty scary because human contact will be minimal considering that even grocery stores have replaced tellers with computers,” Adams said.
“A normal conversation would be an awkward thing without the use of ‘lol’ or ‘brb’ to signify our thoughts,” she added.
Kady Bell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.