Buyer beware on the Internet

Will the Internet ever be completely safe for shoppers?

I’m asking myself this question — and others — after placing an order for some products that were promised to arrive within 7 to 14 days almost three weeks ago. I did check them out on the Internet first, and saw nothing negative about them. But they are not responding to my emails, and I am having serious doubts now.

The order only cost $27, and I placed it through PayPal, which offers some recourse for “disputed” purchases — and which I will follow up on in another week or two.

But I am hearing of more and more people placing orders with companies purportedly based in the United States — such as the one I ordered from — that are, in fact, operating out of China or India or wherever, and who never deliver the goods.

Which is all to say that scam companies like those are making it more difficult for legitimate businesses to operate, because they are sowing seeds of distrust in the minds of consumers. Exhibit A: Because I fear I have been scammed, I unlinked my credit card info from PayPal, and won’t use them again to purchase anything online. It’s not their fault I may have been scammed, but they will lose money as a result, as will other online merchants. I’ll stick to brick and mortar establishments for the time being.

So, yes, one bad apple too often spoils the bunch.

How about you? Do you trust the Wild West that is the Internet to shop? Have you been ripped off?

— Jillian

16 thoughts on “Buyer beware on the Internet

  1. I know how you feel. I am cautious and not instinctively trusting by nature, so I was quite late to the buying on-line, Ebay and Paypal thing.

    Fortunately, I have only experienced what was possibly a scam on Ebay and that was over buying something second-hand from an individual and by sticking unambiguously to Paypal’s rules, I got my money back very quickly.

    The thing about buying certain goods or services on-line is that is the way the first world at least is moving and though we may be instinctively inclined to stand in front of the waves like King Canute saying “No!!!”, those waves are simply going to wash right over us whether we like it or not, as everyone votes with their Paypal or Google Pay or whatever on-line payment service you use. Even the principal banks are getting in on the act.

    The high street is dying, at least in this country (UK), it is. The very centre of towns and cities are full of closed up shops, whether they be independent retailers or branches of national or multi-national multiples and I don’t think it is just down to the on-going effects of the 2008 recession, it is becoming a permanent phenomenon.where the shops are either being boarded up or taken over by charity shops or by fly-by-night scam auctioneers who move on never to be seen again or to be traceable. Who is to say you can’t be fleeced face-to-face as well as on-line?

    Increasingly, I can’t get the choice of what I want in the shops that do survive anyway, because they are paying increasingly higher and higher business rates, local taxes and charges to councils and service providers and they can’t afford to keep large or diverse stock ranges in case they are left with large volumes of stuff they simply can’t sell. If you look at their year-on-year sales levels or profits the majority of them are taking a pounding and few of them have any real answers as to how they can counter the on-line sellers and absorb their high high-street overheads at the same time. I think that the majority of them are doomed, even the clothes sellers who you would think would be the last to be affected because people want to feel materials and try things on before buying them. But when the same retailers are basically selling the same things as you move from store to store on the high street because they are actually afraid to step out of line and do something different, too afraid to set the agenda instead of following it, then I think there will be only one outcome.

    Once upon a time I would have been a fairly regular high-street shopper as a bit of a social outing if nothing else, if just to do some window shopping, but now I can’t be bothered as it is becoming a disappointing experience every time, even sometimes unpleasant, with councils on top of that actually discouraging people from getting to town centres in a convenient fashion while at the same time trying to keep them alive to keep their income streams alive. There’s not much joined-up thinking going on there; not that it matters, ultimately.

    For me, the risk associated with buying on-line and using Paypal is outweighed simply by the greater choice it provides and the money to be saved. As an original sceptic I have now even taken to buying small value items directly from China, via Ebay, sometimes because I simply can’t get it any other way, or because there are simply such radical savings to be made. As it is, a lot of enterprising individuals are buying the same stuff in from China themselves, maybe even via Ebay or AlIexpress, adding their costs and profit on top, and selling to their local natives. What is the risk difference between that viz-a-viz chasing some ghost across the country versus chasing some host over the globe over some low-value item?

    Whether we like it or not, it is the future and we can’t stop it or ignore it. If you do, at best you are only subsidizing everyone else.

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    1. I know you are right about all this. But I wonder about the quality of the inexpensive things being sold on the Internet that originate in China. We don’t know until we receive them, and then have little recourse when it come to returning things.

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      1. PayPal will get you your refund quickly if you tell them, it’s not as described. The dresses I bought were great for the most part. You just have to look at the size chart for each item. I love my navy dress, my apricot blouse with soft lace collar among other things.

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  2. As long as I pay w/PayPal, I can and have been reimbursed when a company fails to respond to a return, poor merchandise, not as described merchandise. There is one company that has some inexpensive great looking clothes. I’ve had problems…Paypal to the rescue. I have 2 accounts linked to paypal and have not had any issues. I dislike buying from the same company, but it’s the only way I can afford new new replacements after our house fire. I believe their manufacturing is in China, but they have an office in NY with whom I can and have done.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Check to see how long it was supposed to take to receive the merchandise on the site you purchased them. That’ll give you more fuel when you call PayPal

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    1. If commerce works properly, both sides of the transaction are happy with it – I get what I want at an acceptable price, you get paid the price you wanted with no hassles. The system is a failure if the yardstick of success is that “I can get my money back from PayPal if the seller is a scammer”.

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  3. Other than the stores I know here, I am leery of buying through the internet. I used to get free samples, but now they say it is free until you get to the end and they want to charge shipping, I would never give my credit information in this case. I like to try new things so liked when I could try the sample first. Having them use my credit card to pay $2.95 seems ludicrous to me. The transaction can cost me more. ie, I did fill out part of a form for something I preferred to try in a small amount and then stopped. A short time later I got a call from a man I could barely understand; India I imagine; and wanted to help me fill out the form. I had to yell to get him to say I didn’t need help and take me off his contact list immediately. Nothing in this world that is worth having is really free.
    On the other hand, I know many who order constantly online with no problems. Even if I go to a store for the same online item I will often check out reviews on it. All good deals aren’t good items. And since most items are packed in assembly lines in India and China, some may miss parts and it is much harder to return than just going back to the store.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Jillian, That’s why I pay using PayPal. Since is probably too expensive and not worth the postage, they once told me to keep the merchandise and refunded my $.

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  4. I would suggest it requires a bit more homework when purchasing from lessor known enterprises and companies, unlike Amazon, other well-known B+M stores. I usually search(Google,etc) for Reviews of the merchant to see how they stack up in terms of quality, service, response to return, etc. Not that you are guaranteed the reviews are not stacked either. But, such is the “nature” of the beast. And, of course, keeping a more $$ purchase only to organizations you have had experience and trust with %@

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  5. Who was the vendor and how did they deceive you as being a US company?

    Are they listed on resellerratings.com?

    Since there are no computer stores less than an hour’s drive from me, I do an awful lot of technology shopping on the web and I’ve never been disappointed. Much of what I buy is from China and four week delivery is not unusual.

    If its a new vendor, I look at the website. Is it professionally done? Is there a contact or customer service phone number? Do they have a Facebook account? If I am really suspicious I will do a whois search to see who owns the web domain.

    You can also see if your credit card offers a Virtual Account Number? (AT&T Citibank does) You set the limit and even if the site is a bogus one, the virtual credit card is useless to anyone else.

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  6. I’ve been shopping online for many years without a problem until recently. I ordered an item from GeekBuying.com which is based in China. (Had I known that earlier, I would not have ordered from them.) The first inquiry was total B. S., and the second inquiry went unanswered. The tracking information was sketchy, so I started a claim with PayPal, and they’ve been very responsive. I will continue to buy online, but I’ll pay closer attention to the companies I choose to do business with, because “There ain’t no education in the second kick of a mule.”

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