‘Tis the season to start buying presents, and more than ever people eschew the mall for the ease and time-saving qualities of buying online.
But all purchasing experiences are not created equal. Not all web vendors are above board, and Monsters and Critics spoke to consumer affairs expert Jeremy Gin, who is the founder of SiteJabber.com, a consumer protection service funded by the National Science Foundation to help people be safe and avoid fraud online.
SiteJabber.com is a consumer protection service which helps people avoid fraudulent websites and find sites they will love.
You would use SiteJabber to research unfamiliar websites, as well as read and write reviews of online businesses and your experiences.
SiteJabber is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, endorsed by Consumer Reports as a way to protect yourself online and was named one of the “Top 100 Sites of 2010” by PC Magazine.
Monsters and Critics wants everyone to have an awesome Holiday season. With this in mind, we interviewed Jeremy Gin and asked him questions for information you need to know.
Monsters and Critics; Most manufacturers have official websites and retail portals, what are the biggest mistakes people make when they set out to buy something online?
Jeremy Gin: The biggest mistake consumers often make is neglecting to research unfamiliar websites before using them–by reading reviews of websites written by other consumers, we can all make smarter purchasing decisions.
M&C: Tell me some red flags that consumers can watch for:
JG: 1. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Best to walk away.
2: Unprofessional website–bad spelling and grammar often portend other unprofessional behavior.
3: If a website uses a brand name in its URL (e.g., “cheapest-nike-shoes.com”) it’s probably not an authorized dealer of that brand.
4: Requesting payment only by money order or Western Union–these payment methods make it impossible to get a refund and should be avoided (when possible, consumers should use a major credit card with strong anti-fraud protections when buying online)
5: If other people have had issues with a particular site, it’s not unreasonable to think you might also face similar issues
M&C: How does someone use Sitejabber.com to streamline their online purchasing?
JG: Consumers can use http://www.sitejabber.com to check on websites before buying from them. By looking up a website on SiteJabber, people can see the experiences of other consumers–both good and bad.
We find that this can not only save people a lot of headaches from bad experiences, it can also help prevent fraud. Also, the SiteJabber community has reviewed a lot of their favorite websites in a variety of topics making it a useful place to find sites that people love.
M&C: Do companies contact you directly to register their sites as “safe”?
JG: SiteJabber does not take money from any of the businesses reviewed on it to be listed as “safe.”
Our service is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation and was created exclusively for consumers. So if a website or business wants to be positively reviewed by our community, they just need to do a great job providing their service, and our community will review them accordingly.
M&C: Biggest online fraudulent goods and services sham companies, where are they in the world? What countries are hosts to the biggest scammers?
JG: We see a large number counterfeits coming out of Asia, but we caution consumers not to form stereotypes–there is just as much fraud and as many counterfeits here in the US as anywhere else.
The US is the largest global market for counterfeit goods.
Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.