Forget your birthday? Never

Gail Robinson looks at some great shopping opportunities online
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The Independent Online

If you always forget birthdays, you'll like the sound of this new scheme from online underwear specialist Easyshop (www. easyshop.co.uk). Easyshop will take the blame for the late arrival of your gift, as long as you buy your pressie from them, of course. You select the "Blame Us" option when you buy your items, and Easyshop will include a card with the gift stating that the late arrival was entirely their fault and was "due to pressure at the warehouse".

If you always forget birthdays, you'll like the sound of this new scheme from online underwear specialist Easyshop ( www.easyshop.co.uk). Easyshop will take the blame for the late arrival of your gift, as long as you buy your pressie from them, of course. You select the "Blame Us" option when you buy your items, and Easyshop will include a card with the gift stating that the late arrival was entirely their fault and was "due to pressure at the warehouse".

UK car-dealers can't be having an easy time of it. It seems like everybody, from the Which? Consumers' Association to Virgin, wants a piece of the car-retailing action. The latest company to jump on the bandwagon is insurance specialists Direct Line, with its new Jamjar ( www.jamjar.com) site.

Direct Line is working with new and used-car retailer Dixon Motors for UK-based deals, and with Totalise Eurekar for imported cars. I checked out the site to see what kind of savings I could get on a new Beetle - the result wasn't too impressive, a mere £900 off the list price.

However, there are better deals to be had on the site; you can save nearly five grand on the list price of a Nissan Primera and over four grand on a Renault Laguna. The price includes delivery to your door, warranty and a year's roadside assistance and road tax. The site will even give you a guaranteed online quote on a car trade-in, sight unseen.

Direct Line is pushing over £15m into advertising this site, so it must reckon it's on to a winner. If this trend continues, dealer forecourts will merely become places where we touch, feel and test-drive new cars, and when it comes to making a purchase we'll go off and find the best deal online.

It will come as no surprise to hear that JK Rowling's latest Harry Potter book is the most popular item bought by visitors to the Streetsonline ( www.streetsonline.co.uk) website. But Potter fans should head for the Auctions section of www.amazon.com, where they're auctioning off signed first-editions of Harry Potter and the Goblets of Fire. Bidding looked pretty busy when I last checked out the site, with signed copies going for between £30 and £50.

You can never have too many little black dresses; at least that's what Blackfrock ( www.blackfrock.com) is hoping, because that's all they sell. You can select the neck style, the length of sleeves and the length of the dress and then see how your design will look onscreen. The dresses are made from a mix of viscose, wool and Lycra and cost between £50 and £70. Delivery is free but these dresses had better be well made because £50 is a lot of money to shell out without trying the frock on.

The webswappers ( www.webswappers.com) site is trying to encourage us all to swap homes rather than go through the time-consuming and expensive process of buying and selling. The big attraction of swapping is that, because the deal is seen as a transfer rather than a sale, you only have to pay a fiver in stamp duty. According to Webswappers' research, thousands of people enter into property exchanges every year. There's just one problem. Webswappers only had 51 properties up for swap when I checked out the site, so choice is a bit limited - but if anybody has a flat in Chelsea they'd be willing to swap for a house in Leytonstone, I'm open to offers.

Make-up addicts should head straight for the Direct Cosmetics site ( www.directcosmetics.com) where they'll find thousands of brand-name cosmetics and perfumes at up to 90 per cent off RRPs. The choice of stuff is huge and includes names such as Clarins, Estée Lauder, Tommy Hilfiger, L'Oréal, Calvin Klein and Elizabeth Arden. Although I couldn't find any items discounted by 90 per cent I did find plenty of bargains - don't forget to factor in the £3.95 delivery charge, though.

If you have experienced any cybershopping disasters, or if you have e-commerce sites that you would like to recommend, e-mail: gail@gailrobinson.com

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