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The Best Free Ad & Pop-Up Blockers for Safe Internet Browsing

 By Jimmy Rodriguez0 Comments

The internet has always been a double-edged sword. While it’s capable of bringing people together and putting everything right at your fingertips, it’s also just as powerful at using all of those things against you.

Being online means that you are simultaneously powerful and vulnerable. And, unfortunately, being taken advantage of online has become more and more common, especially as technology advances. Of course, while there are plenty of bad actors out there online (and there always have been), there are also plenty of new and innovative ways to protect yourself.

From viruses in ads to malware in pop-ups, knowing how to keep yourself and your technology safe online is an essential part to making sure that the time you spend online is anything but dangerous.

Why Are Ad Blockers & Pop-Up Blockers Important?

Few things are more irritating than pop-up ads that demand to make their presence known. But, as much as they are annoying, today’s ads and pop-ups also have the potential to be dangerous, installing various types of malicious adware on your device that can put your security and privacy at risk. That’s why one of the biggest benefits to having a great ad block or pop-up blocker on your device is that they can actually prevent this type of malware from being installed altogether, especially when you’re browsing unsecured sites.

Hackers have become true professionals at implanting viruses into advertisements and pop-ups on pages that are unsecured. For this reason, it’s not uncommon to have experienced the headaches that come along with dealing with “virus aftermath”. And while most people have heard of ad blocking or pop-up blocking, not that many people understand the difference between the two, and which are really the best at keeping you safe from attacks.

Ad blocking and pop-up blocking are not the same. While some ad blockers can stop pop-ups, most pop-up blockers will not stop on-page ads or other types of advertisements that show up online. Both types of blockers are typically extensions, which means they’re easy to install and use. But, because they do different things, it’s important to understand what you’re wanting to achieve before selecting the blocker you want to use.

In the case of pop-up blockers, you’ll be eliminating the most annoying types of ads, the ones that show up and get in your way until you find a way to close them. Whether a box, tab, or window that opens automatically, these pop-ups can be distracting, downright offensive, or implanted with malicious adware that can put you and your devices at risk. There are also the notorious “pop-unders”, which open a new window behind your browser so that you’re unaware what’s happening initially. Of course, pop-ups created and utilized by the party that owns and operates the website can be useful, giving you information you want and need.

Ad blockers, on the other hand, target all types of online advertisements – not just those that pop-up (or under) your browser. Because of this larger net, ad blockers have some other benefits, such as helping your pages load faster, maintaining longer battery life, and keeping the content you want to see front-and-center. From banners to videos, ad blockers are capable of keeping most at bay, which means your chances of being infected by dangerous adware is dramatically reduced (if not completely erased). Unfortunately, some pop-up advertisements are getting more and more intelligent, which means that the wide net cast by generic ad blockers doesn’t always catch them.

As great as ad blockers sound at first, not everyone loves the idea of ad blockers. This is mainly because it eliminates the ability to monetize ads, which is how many website owners afford to make a living online. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to land on a website that “strongly encourages” you to turn off your ad blocker before browsing their site. Not only does you not seeing ads cost the website money, but in some cases,  it dramatically changes the look and feel of a website, which can also lose the website money if it impacts the way you navigate or experience the pages. In these cases, many people who use ad blockers will choose to disable the blocker if they’re on a website they know, like, and trust.

Requirements of a return policy

Every return policy needs to cover a few points to help customers understand the limits and allowances your business places on returns. This is the “meat” of your return policy, as this information describes what you’ll accept from customers, and how you’ll refund them.

Stipulate a time frame for returns

It’s important to let your customers know how long they have to return a product. Generally speaking, 15-30 days is standard, although some businesses opt for 90 days. Either way, you won’t be doing yourself any favors by accepting returns beyond that time.

Fail to disclose a time frame for returns and you’ll find customers trying to ship back items months, even years (not kidding), after they’ve been purchased. Needless to say, this is not a good thing for online store owners. Several large businesses have suffered losses due to open-ended return periods, to the point that most have introduced stricter rules.

Define the expected condition of returns

It’s one thing to accept a return if the customer is immediately unhappy with a product or the product is defective. It’s quite different to accept a return if a product has been used, broken or devalued in any way by the buyer.

When structuring your company’s return policy, define the condition a product must be in before a return can be processed. If you fail to include this information, customers will attempt to return merchandise in condition too poor to be resold. In this case, you’ll be forced to take a loss.

List return requirements

If you have requirements that must be met before a return can be processed, you need to let customers know ahead of time.

For example, you may want to stipulate that all returns must be sent unopened and/or in its original packaging. You should also let customers know if they need an authorization number, shipping address, purchase receipt, etc. Whatever conditions you choose, state them clearly for all to see.

One simple way to handle this is to use a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) system. This allows you to request information and images from the customer. If you decide to accept the return, you issue an authorization. If your business covers return shipping, you’ll send the customer a shipping label along with the authorization.

Choose refund or in-store credit

Customers want to know how you plan to compensate them before they return a product. Many will demand a full refund while others may settle for in-store credit. As an e-store owner, you need to make a choice between the two.

We suggest offering customers a full refund on all returned merchandise so long as it meets the requirements of your return policy. At your discretion, you can decide to offer store credit for certain types of returns. If you decide to do this, make sure you explain the exact circumstances in your policy. Used properly, store credit can simplify and enhance your returns process.

If you elect to offer in-store credit only, however, many of your current and future customers will not be happy.

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How to write a return policy

Return policies don’t just need to include the details — they must also present them in a clear, concise manner that helps prevent misunderstandings. Your return policy should cover every detail without becoming overly technical.

Keep the language simple and to the point

The general rule of thumb here is it to write like you speak. If you’re not a lawyer, don’t act like it. Use verbiage your customers can relate to, and feel free to give your return policy some personality. So long as it’s clear, concise and not open for interpretation, you’re good to go.

Filling your return policy with complicated language and/or legal jargon will only confuse your customers and lead to an increase in service requests. This costs time and money that could have easily been saved by having an awesome return policy in place.

Disclose any fees associated with returns

When a shopper wants to return an item they’ve purchased in your store, who will cover the cost of return shipping, restocking, etc.? Things like this need to be clearly defined in your return policy.

There’s nothing worse, from a consumer’s perspective, than receiving a product you don’t like only to find out that you have to pay out of pocket to send it back.

If you expect your customers to assume financial responsibility for returned items, make sure this is clearly spelled out inside your policy. Failing to do so will create a gaggle of upset customers armed with keyboards ready and Twitter accounts wide open.

Promote your policy

A return policy is only as good as its visibility. If no one can find it, then it doesn’t exist, and that spells trouble for online owners.

It’s always a good idea to feature your return policy on the homepage of your website. The footer is a popular spot for this and some even like making it a part of the checkout process.

In addition to homepage placement, we suggest you do the following two things. First, include a printed copy of your return policy inside every package you ship. Second, feature your policy inside the purchase-confirmation email you send to customers.

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One last thing…

Think of your return policy as an extension of your company. It should represent your business’ core philosophies, attitude and tone. Your return policy could very well be the most-read document on your website. It’s not just a way of explaining your return requirements and process, but also a means of making a good impression.

When creating your company’s return policy, take your time and come up with a game plan. In other words, map out what you want to do before doing it. Brainstorm ideas, do some research, write a few drafts and ask for advice. Read the return policies of successful businesses and look at return policy templates. Take what you’ve learned and use it to create an awesome return policy that fits your business.

When all things are said and done, you’ll be left with a policy that will save you time and money, and who on this planet couldn’t use a little more of both?

Shift4Shop provides a great automated Return Policy Generator to help with this process. We’ve also written a free eBook that will help you handle returns like a champion — check it out below the FAQ.

Common questions about return policies

Why do customers return products and how can I stop them?There are many reasons a customer might want to return a product, and while you can’t prevent every single return, you can take countermeasures to make these returns less likely. Our Complete Guide to Processing Returns goes over several ways to directly reduce returns whenever possible.My business is brand new and only serves a few customers. Do I really need a return policy?Yes, you need a return policy no matter the size of your business. Very small businesses sometimes assume they can handle every return on a case-by-case basis, but there are a few reasons this is a bad idea. First, it allows inconsistency which could lead to some customers feeling as if they’ve been treated unfairly, especially in a community where they can compare their experiences. Second, it’s not sustainable, since as soon as your business begins to grow, you can get overwhelmed by trying to handle returns in this fashion. Third, depending on your location, you may need a published return policy to legally operate.Can a return policy help attract more customers?Yes! A great return policy can help draw more customers to your store, and by “great” we don’t mean it has to be overly permissive. Many customers look at a store’s return policy before deciding to shop there, but they’re not necessarily looking for an extremely forgiving policy (although some are). Mostly, they just want to know that the business has a clear, established method for processing returns, how they’ll get their refund, and other information just in case. A well-written policy can help a customer decide to take the risk and buy from you, even if you’re not promising unlimited returns.How does an RMA system work?An RMA system is software that allows you to set up a procedure for customers who want to make a return. They’ll need to do it through the system and provide any information you request. This information can vary, but usually includes their return reason and more — and some RMA systems, like the one in Shift4Shop, let the customer upload images so you can see the condition of the item. The RMA is the central location for communications between you and the customer about the return, your tool for accepting or rejecting it, and a convenient interface for creating return labels, dispersing refunds, and receiving items back into your inventory.

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