Young adults vulnerable to online gift failures

OnlineYoungThe Digital Citizens Alliance is warning young adults to be extra careful when shopping online this Cyber Monday. A new poll commissioned by the consumer watchdog group shows that of all age groups 18 and older, it is young adults (ages 18-24) that are the most likely to not receive gifts they’ve ordered online.

In all, the Digital Citizens poll found that more than one in three (or 35 percent) of young adults said they had ordered gifts online and not received them.  That’s double the number we saw in the entire population (18 percent). Almost 60 percent of the young adults who didn’t get a gift didn’t get a refund either. The poll also offered two reasons why young adults might be having such trouble:

•  While more than 80 percent of the total population said they verify that they are shopping on a secure website, only 60 percent of young adults did – by far the lowest of the five age groups (18-24 years-old, 25-34, 35-54, 55-69 and those more than 70 years old);
•  The young adults are most likely of the age cohorts to look for the lowest price when they buy online, which scammers commonly prey upon by offering products at a significant discount. In addition, they are the least likely to consider if the website is well-known and established.

OnlineYoung1“It is easy to understand why young adults, who are just starting their careers and have the least disposable income, would bargain shop.  It is unfortunate that young people who are looking for value and options end up being ripped off and frustrated,” said Digital Citizens Alliance Executive Director Tom Galvin.

The Adobe Digital Index 2013 Online Shopping Forecast predicts shoppers will spend $2.27 billion online this Cyber Monday, up 15 percent from 2012.  Adobe predicts more will be spent on Cyber Monday than on Black Friday or Thanksgiving. According to comScore, Cyber Monday 2012 was the heaviest online spending day in history. IBM said Cyber Monday sales grew by 30 percent in 2012 and 33 percent in 2011.

Sally Greenberg, the Executive Director of America’s pioneer consumer organization – The National Consumers League, added: “Consumers shopping on Cyber Monday will be inundated with discount, coupons and sales marketing. While online shopping continues to be a convenient and accessible arena for consumers, there are plenty of scammers who will practice false advertising. Young people, in particular, shouldn’t let their guard down when it comes to safe online shopping during the holidays.”

Other findings from the poll include:
•  Of all groups, only those 70 and older had a larger percentage of people who did not think the Internet is a safe place to shop than young adults.  (66 percent of 18-24 year-olds think it is safe, versus 73 percent of 25-34 year-olds, 78 percent of 35-54 year-olds, 75 percent of  55-69 year-olds, and 63 percent of those 70 and older).
•  Two-thirds of the young adults (or 65.6 percent) never got an explanation as to why they didn’t receive a refund.
•  90 percent of the young adults said they shop at purely online retailers (ex. eBay, Amazon), while 59 percent said they shop at brick and mortar stores that also have websites.

How to be Safe:
The National Consumers League released its 2013 Cyber Monday Shopping tips Wednesday.  To see NCL’s newest tips, click here.

The Poll:
Digital Citizens Alliance commissioned Zogby Analytics to conduct an online survey of 1,000 adults in the United States.  Results were gathered on November 14, 2013. Based on a confidence interval of 95%, the margin of error for 1,000 is +/- 3.2 percentage points.

Digital Citizens is a consumer-oriented coalition focused on educating the public and policy makers on the threats that consumers face on the Internet and the importance for Internet stakeholders – individuals, government and industry – to make the Web a safer place. Based in Washington, DC, the Digital Citizens Alliance counts among its supporters: private citizens, the health, pharmaceutical and creative industries as well as online safety experts and other communities focused on Internet safety. For more information, please visit