TIPS NOW FOR ON-LINE BUYERS
I've now written a couple of articles to help sellers SELL ... now it's time to write one to help buyers BUY. AND buy SAFELY.
For every 50 honest sellers, you are going to run into a scam artist. They are usually easy to spot, but if you shop on line a lot (and more and more people ARE shopping on line more often, each day), don't become complacent. Enjoy shopping and browsing, but be alert.
One of the first things to look for are shops that are selling items WAY below what you expect to pay. A deal? Not usually. It is very easy for someone to set up a shop, steal pictures and descriptions from anyplace on line, from magazines ... nothing is off limits to them. THEN they shout out to everyone "GREAT SAVINGS", "MARKED DOWN", "SAVE HERE" ... and draw in those looking for a bargain. And they can stay in business for quite some time ... you will receive answers to your queries of "when will my item arrive" with very nice emails telling you they are sorry "but it's back ordered and we expect it no later than two weeks". (That's them buying time). They can put you off until you ask for your money back and then tell you they will gladly refund the money and they are sorry they weren't able to help you. After you've written several times, threatened at least twice --- well by that time they have changed the name of their shop. You can no longer find them. Neither can your credit card company.
SOOO how do you stay away from these places? One of THE best ways to know you are shopping on a legitimate site (but it's still not a guarantee) is if the URL (address) to their shop is NOT http but rather https. The "s" stands for security and that shop holds a security certificate --- like our shop (oh good I get to get some advertising in right here!! :+) https://twobroadsandashop.com . If you see http without the "s" (which stands for secured) -- that does not MEAN the merchant is not honest, but https is a much better 'part of town' :+). Those merchants have built their site with a host that is protected. It's nearly impossible for a hacker to get into a secured site and grab your information AND most not so honest shop owners don't bother with the cost of the security.
NOW if you find a site where everything is VERY inexpensive (cheap) compared to other shops, pay attention to the writing. Are there misspellings? Is the grammar very poor? The shop can have an address that SAYS it's from the good old USA or Canada or the UK --- but that doesn't mean that's where they are. SO if the grammar is terrible, find the "About Us" page. If there isn't one, that's another red flag. AND if there IS one, again, what's the grammar and spelling like?? It could be that you are in a 'one night stand' (well six months stand) shop OR it could mean you are dealing with a counterfeiter especially if the spelling of the items they sell is incorrect.
Another thing you will sometimes find with "cheap" sellers is that they are undercutting others who sell the same thing. A good merchant cannot stay in business long using this method. Your chances of possibly being the last buyer ever in that store are pretty high (especially if they aren't advertising a sale or going out of business sale). So you may or may not receive your item, and if you need to return it, they won't be there.
If you really really want to buy from a shop after you've noticed it just doesn't seem to "look good", the grammar is really really bad, and the pictures aren't the greatest either, WRITE to them. A good and honest shop owner will be glad to answer "where are you from?", "how long have you sold on line" and other questions along those lines. AND you should be able to find those answers in their "about me" section of their shop. Even then, you can still write them and ask those questions just to be sure you DO feel at ease buying from them. AND if you make a purchase, use a credit card that offers liability if you order something which you never receive, or use Pay Pal which is also safe and looks out for its users.
One other warning: Don't EVER shop from public computers .. the library, a study center at a college ... shop only from your own computer. Information can remain on public computers (like credit card numbers, phone numbers etc).
The VAST majority of on line sellers are honest. I encourage friends who have never shopped on line to DO it. AND I have purchased from two shops which I was a bit leery about, after writing them first, and they were wonderful. So use common sense and, as my son likes to say, "listen to your gut".