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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Purchasing PCs and Components | Payment Methods | Immediate Payment Options ]


COD stands for cash on delivery. COD is very different from most forms of payment because it involves a third party in the financial transaction. When you have an item sent COD, the company sends the package to you with instructions for the delivery company to collect the money that you owe for the package. You pay the delivery person, and the delivery company remits the money to the vendor.

The idea behind COD is to protect both vendors and customers. The vendor is supposedly protected because the delivery company won't leave the box unless payment is received. The customer is supposedly protected because they only pay if the vendor sends the item. Unfortunately, as you can tell by my "supposedly"s, it doesn't really work out that way.

In fact, COD usually represents an unacceptable form of payment for one or the other of the parties in the transaction, or both. Which one dislikes it most depends on if the payment is made in actual cash or by check. Some delivery companies will accept either cash or a personal check in payment for a COD; some may leave the option open for the vendor to specify "cash only".

If the COD is "cash only", it is a bad idea from the customer's perspective. Sure, you get a package before you give the cash, but COD is really "like a box of chocolates". You generally do not get to open the box before you give the vendor your payment (because the vendors don't want the box returned to them "tampered with" if the customer refuses to pay--the delivery company might end up in the middle). This means you get no protection against the wrong item being sent, or a defective product, or a box full of rocks and styrofoam for all you know. You may be paying it in an unusual way, but you are still paying cash without seeing the product up front. Worse, you have to pay $5 or more to the delivery company for the COD service.

If the COD is by check, the vendor is in even worse shape; the product has been sent and all he or she gets back is an unsecured check that can bounce or be canceled. In fact, even if cash is paid most vendors hate COD because it can take several weeks from the time they send the box until they receive their funds.

For all of the above reasons, COD has all but disappeared from the payment landscape. Most vendors will simply not send items COD, period. I do not recommend it for buyers, and I do not recommend it for sellers either. There are just too many other payment methods that are safer and more efficient.

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