I enjoyed this.
Fortunately, my experiences buying online have been largely positive to date. Where mistakes have occurred they've been corrected when I've pointed them out. For example, watches have been mailed to me without the factory warrantee or the outer box that were part of the item description. In such cases, the merchant apologised for the oversight, and sent them in a second delivery.
Visual verification is important, and I'll rarely go by photos on a listing. When a watch is pictured without its alleged OEM buckle, I'll ask for a live shot. If a watch is described as being in-stock, I'll ask for a photo of it alongside a date-stamped business card of the seller. If one doesn't arrive, I'll politely insist on it. On the flip side, upon receipt, I'll take photographs of the entire receipt and unboxing process. The EXIM data on my photos can confirm the date and location where the photos were taken, if there is any doubt.
While I appreciate the safeguards many sites institute to protect buyers and sellers, I never assume that they are watertight. Having run the quality assurance department of a large international organisation during my career, I'm fairly familiar with how things go wrong, and how often. This means that we must all exercise due diligence. I'm a naturally trusting person, but I also have to be sensible to mitigate risk.
One more word. Empathy means recognising that simple human error can be a factor. It doesn't just mean assuming that merchants are only in it for the money. Empathy helps us keep communications civil, because we all screw up from time to time. I've found that when I've communicated that something has gone awry in a respectful way, merchants respond constructively. I have yet to come across a bona fide scoundrel who didn't take responsibility when something's gone off. Let's hope it stays that way.