Wealth Blog

Net regret: drunken text messages and internet shopping

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 April, 2013, 10:08am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 April, 2013, 12:54pm

Remember the old days when you’d come home after having too many glasses of chardonnay and would indulge in a bout of “phone fingers” – otherwise known as drunken dialing? Back then, before everyone had a mobile phone, the sight of those enticing buttons could overwhelm even the most self controlled expatriate. The temptation to ring someone local was usually curtailed by the lateness of the hour, but if it was 2am in Hong Kong, it was perfectly OK to call Europe or the US, because they would be wide awake. Especially ex-girl and boy friends. Of course the person on the other end would see the time and the caller and draw their own conclusions.

If alcohol amnesia set in, the culprit could forget until the humungous IDD bill arrived with the evidence. These days with mobiles you can ring anyone any time, but the advent of alternatives such as sms tends to reduce the amount of damage that can be done under the influence. It does not eliminate it however and who hasn’t checked their phone the morning after, through the mist of a hangover, only to find a disastrous trail of texts that should never have been sent?


Internet shoppers’ remorse

Now there’s a new elephant trap of temptation – drunken internet shopping. One person in four has shopped online when drunk, a UK survey shows. It’s not good. And the possibilities for boozed-up buying are greatly enhanced in a place like Hong Kong where drinking is such a popular pastime. Clothes, it seems, are the most common online purchase. The research shows that a third of inebriated shoppers have buyers’ remorse and regrets unleashing their credit card. Bizarre online purchases included a pair of dentures, a 1930s man’s swimming costume, sex toys (no surprises there) and a meat pizza, bought by a vegetarian.

One butter-fingered boozed up shopper accidentally pressed “buy now” and spent £2,048 (HK$24,316) on 20 tickets to an Oasis concert at Wembley in London, when they only wanted two. Each Brit spends an average of £1,083 (HK$12,859) on online shopping per year, more than American or Japanese shoppers. Broadband-choices.co.uk confirms that internet purchases that are later regretted are a global problem.

Nearly a quarter of the 2,000 online consumers questioned admitted they returned one in 10 purchases, while more than half, 56 per cent, regretted the clothes they had bought. Nearly two-thirds said they spent more than they intended online, about £528 (HK$6,269) more than they would have splashed out in regular shops. Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper quoted broadbandchoices as saying: “As online shopping becomes ever more mobile, we expect to see a continued rise in this net regret.”

As there is no sign of universal temperance breaking out any time soon, boozed up buying poses a big potential problem. Do yourself a favour: hide that credit card. Better still; some smart geek should invent a breathalyzer test for computers. Or a 12-hour transaction delay function that requires online purchases to be double-confirmed before processing. Preferably in the cold sober light of the next day.