From bobrankin@MHV.NET Wed Dec  3 22:56:58 1997
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 1997 18:09:13 -0500
From: Bob Rankin 
Subject: TOURBUS - 02 Dec 1997 - Holiday Shopping Online

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Online shopping - it's a $2.5 BILLION dollar business, and analysts are
predicting that the final tally for this holiday season will top a
billion dollars.  Will you join the ranks of those who point and click
their way past the crowded malls, or are you still nervous about
whipping out the plastic in cyberspace?

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 Cajun Food Lovers: If you can boil water, you can prepare perfectly
    seasoned Real Cajun mixes in just 25 minutes. Just add water!
         FREE bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce with each order.
+---------------  -------------+

If you hate crowds, and you're looking for an alternative to telephone
shopping, the Web may be just the ticket.  But the convenience of point
and click purchasing isn't the only benefit of online shopping.  Some
online stores offer special discounts for Internet customers, and
consumers can also shop smarter by taking advantage of comparison
shopping services such as Compare.Net (for general consumer products)
and NetBuyer.Com (for all things geeky).  These sites will help you by
providing product reviews and comparisons, and even point you to the
online store where you can get the best deal.

I poked around at NetBuyer and found that prices on the EPSON PhotoPC
600 digital camera ranged from $700 to $799.  And it's no doubt even
higher at your local department store.  Check out these two sites at:



Even though most browsers have offered secure transaction features for
some time, there are many netizens who remain skittish about using
credit cards online.  Some people are wary of shopping on the Internet,
because they fear a retailer may not be legitimate or a hacker will get
their credit card number.  To a certain degree, that fear is healthy,
but you can shop online with peace of mind if you keep these points in

- Think twice before entering your credit card number into an e-mail
  message.  E-mail is about as secure as a paper postcard, so it's
  possible an employee of an Internet service could sneak a peak at your

- Shop at secure web sites.  You can tell you are in a secure site
  when Netscape's little gold key (lower left corner) turns solid or
  Internet Explorer's little padlock (lower right) looks locked.  A
  connection with a secure server ensures that all data is encrypted
  before leaving your computer so nobody can eavesdrop on your credit
  card number or other personal information.

  This browser encryption technology is called SSL (secure sockets layer),
  is in use worldwide and has proven to be extremely effective.  It's
  often said that online shopping with an SSL connection is just as safe
  as giving a waiter your credit card in a restaurant.  If you don't think
  twice about doing that, or ordering products over the phone, you should
  feel at ease about ordering online from a secure site.  It's safe!

- Never buy from a spammer.  People who abuse the Internet and annoy
  millions of users by mass mailing their pitch should receive your
  scorn, not your hard-earned cash.  If they flout the rules of the
  online world, they're most likely crooks in the physical world.

- Contact your local attorney general or other consumer fraud
  authorities if any problems arise.  Many consumer protection agencies
  are becoming computer savvy, so don't hesitate to complain to them.
  You can also find the Better Business Bureau online
  .  You can visit there to submit a complaint form
  or check their online business reports database (for certain US
  cities) to see if a company has any complaints on file.


Okay, you're sold on the concept of doing all your holiday shopping on
the Net.  A few clicks, a bit of tappity tap, then you can sit back and
smirk at frustrated friends fighting the rush hour mall crowds.  But
where do you find that special something for Aunt Belle?  Here are some
good places to start your online shopping expedition:

- Buy It Online  - Search their database to
  find a site that sells the product you want.  Especially good at
  finding offbeat items such as handcrafts and specialty foods.

- The Internet Mall  - The world's largest
  shopping mall, with over 27,000 merchants and stores offering a
  complete range of products and services to the consumer.

- Yahoo/Visa Shopping Guide  - Links to
  vendors in many different product categories, consumer tips and an
  ATM locator.

- Compare.Net  - A complete source for product
  information.  The CompareTool(tm) lets you store information, compare
  models, and email your shopping list.  If you're looking for holiday
  gift ideas, you can find suggestions from their product database that
  meet your budget.

- NetBuyer  - Similar to Compare.Net, but
  specializing in computers and accessories.  Compiled by the people
  who print the monthly Computer Shopper magazine, this is the best
  place to go if you want to find a good deal on a specific computer
  accessory such as memory, modems or motherboards.  Sure beats leafing
  through all 850 pages of Computer Shopper!

- Insight Direct  - A popular mail order and
  online discounter of computers, hardware and software.  If you're
  looking for one of those $1000 PC systems to put under the tree,
  check here first.


The first TOURBUS PLUS edition comes out this weekend!  As Patrick
mentioned, we've sent out the two free issues of TOURBUS PLUS, and
we're now accepting subscriptions online at


We've had a very enthusiastic response so far, but some people report
having trouble accessing the secure order form.  If you can't get
through, you can always use good old fashioned snail mail or fax.

- To order by MAIL:  Send your check for $10 (US funds) and your
  e-mail address to BOB RANKIN / PO BOX 39 / TILLSON NY 12486 / USA
  You can also use a credit card when ordering by mail - see below.
- To order by FAX:   Send credit card number, expiration date, your
  name, billing address and e-mail address to 1-914-658-3351.

See you next time!  --Bob

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