One of the shortcomings of buying merchandise online is that if there is a problem, the customer is pretty easy to ignore. Lots of sellers handle everything over the internet and don’t provide a physical address or phone number for their location. Even if they did provide an address, the average customer is not going to hop on a plane and travel cross-country to confront the seller about the $33.45 gadget falling apart after one use. One way to reduce your risk of having a bad online buying experience is to get opinions from other customers who made purchases and took the time to rate the seller.
On eBay, you can easily get seller ratings, but there are plenty of other resources out there for the resourceful shopper. To get customer ratings for mass retailers try Dealtime. Dealtime is a price comparison Web site that has a simple rating system where customers can rate retailers they have bought from on a scale of one to five check marks, with five being the highest rating. Because Dealtime has such a high number of people using their service, seller ratings are often based on the input of many customers not just a handful.
Sometimes the thing you are buying into is an opportunity, like a work at home opportunity, or a service. To check out if that “I made a million a month working five minutes a week” home based business opportunity is legitimate, go to Google and in the search engine box type in the name of the company with the work “scam” or “complaint” next to it. Even the slickest business operators have a hard time hiding from disgruntled customers on the Web.
For purchases that involve serious cash, like hiring a contractor, or to check out the legitimacy of a charity, consult the Better Business Bureau online. The Better Business Bureau registers official complaints, offers accreditation to business that meet certain standards and has a library of helpful articles designed to help consumers make smart decisions.