Sunday, November 1, 2009


Due to the wonders of modern technology, we now have the entire world at our disposal. With just a few clicks of a mouse, we can now find almost anything that tickles our fancy. But buyer beware- purchasing costumes on the Internet are akin to Internet dating: everything is not always what it appears to be!

In an on-line swap meet situation, the seller’s idea of “gently worn” may be your idea of “completely thrashed”! Many belly dance costumes available for purchase on-line may not be of professional quality... Halloween costumes and "Airport Specials" ( cheap souvenir-type costumes) are definately not for the serious dancer.Don’t be afraid to ask questions- if possible, contact the seller by phone to make inquiries before you make your purchase.

Whether you are buying something from an out of state or overseas vendor, or a private party, it’s imperative that you clearly understand everything about the transaction you are about to make. If you are ordering from a dealer’s website, make sure it has a secure connection before you enter your credit card number. Check on policies for returns, refunds and exchanges, as well as finding out who pays the shipping (usually it’s the buyer) as well as how the item will be getting shipped- ground or air, through the Postal service or with anther carrier like UPS or Fed Ex. Find out if the item will be insured, and if you are having it shipped to a post office box, make sure that a package from whichever carrier is shipping it can be accepted there- some companies have a policy that they will not deliver to post office boxes. Also, find out if the item is in stock, and when the item will be shipped- it may be on backorder, which means it could take weeks or even months to get to you.

Though it seems out-dated, many foreign costume vendors do not accept PayPal or credit cards, and will only take wire transfers from banks. Eman Zaki, for example does this- but her costumes are worth it... and many others are not. The whole process of wire transfers is time-consuming and will require you to visit your bank in person, so make sure that you really want to go through this procedure, because there are plenty of on-line vendors who will accept more "modern"- ie. CONVENIENT- forms of payment.

Be aware of sizes- some items may be listed with sizing other than those your country uses, such as European sizing versus American, or dimensions listed in centimeters instead of inches. The same is true for colors: computer monitor displays vary greatly and the color displayed on your screen may not be “true”, once you get the item it may be significantly darker or lighter than it appeared to be on your computer monitor.

There are other things to consider about Internet buying, too. Check about the seller’s policies on returning the costume if it’s a style or color you didn’t order; if the item is damaged, doesn’t fit you correctly, or does not match the on-line description. And as far as auctions go, that if you are participating in one on-line, be aware that the price of the item may increase significantly due to bidding from others, and what started out as a bargain may wind up costing far more money than it’s worth.

Choose your Internet costume purchases wisely, and they will serve you well!

PHOTO: A "belly dance" costume that is actually a cheaply made novelty costume

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