Reader, you and I are part of a nation of unhappy shoppers. Angry online shoppers, to be more accurate. Ninety-three percent of UK online shoppers are annoyed with sneaky website tactics. And that's not just me saying that, that's proper, grown-up research.
A survey of more than 2,400 web users, commissioned by MoreComputers.com and issued today, found hidden delivery charges to be the biggest annoyance for people using e-commerce websites. Sixty-four percent of respondents said such charges 'make them not buy'.
Now if this is true - and I have my doubts - I think this is positive news. In a first-life, physical shop, I'm categorically unable to try something and then not buy it. Especially the sort of shop with beautiful assistants. I can't turn down the first plumber's quote, I'm constantly bullied into bogof offers and I'm pathetic when it comes to not tipping for poor service.
So if two-thirds of don't-make-a-fuss Britain are prepared to cancel a deal on the basis of upselling, I'm proud. And as we found when we recently investigated ultra-cheap PCs, there's a lot of upselling about (see the July issue of PC Advisor, on sale now, or try buying a '£199 PC' and then count the change in your pocket).
'Philfing' - a derivation of 'Wilfing' ('what was I looking for' aimless surfing) - is the name given to the despicable practice of 'purposely hiding what I'm looking for'. In other words, e-businesses holding back the genuine cost of 'extras' until the last minute.
Big bugbears, according to the research, include 'free delivery' that requires an extra purchase or spending over a certain amount. And don't get you (and me) started on hidden surcharges for paying by credit card.
Such charges really hack me off. In the days when vendors had to send off a bit of blotting paper to get their cash, there was an element of risk and faff in accepting plastic. But there is absolutely no excuse for charging extra for card purchases in the 21st century. (Yes, I know the credit card companies levy charges, but these are relatively small, and how else are we supposed to purchase online?)
At PC Advisor, we always publish prices inclusive of VAT and delivery - they're not hidden extras really, now are they? - but not everyone is as pure as we are (polishes halo). And online shopping comparison sites are now finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a level playing field when listing prices.
"We carefully monitor merchants for any signs of illegitimate or misleading behaviour," states Justin Sedgmond, a director of PriceGrabber.co.uk, which assists PC Advisor in finding price comparisons and sales click-throughs for our Reviews section. "When we are made aware of any suspicious activity, we verify the problem and take appropriate action from there. We will contact the merchant, and solve the problem to make sure our customers are protected."
Which is good stuff. But we can all assist by resisting the philf while we wilf. I will if you will.