Sharon was thrilled to find on a social networking business page a perfect head band to go with the christening outfit that she had bought for her daughter. She chatted to the Facebook store operator and sent her credit card details. Several weeks went by and nothing happened; and when Sharon tried to contact the store, the Facebook page was gone.
Sadly, with the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook becoming an avenue for selling handmade items, we are seeing more and more claims of online fraud in the WAHM industry.
Whilst there is no fool proof method in ensuring you are not a victim of online fraud, there are a few helpful things customers can check, and also tips for store owners to make customers feel completely comfortable in purchasing:
1 Business Registration Whilst in some instances a business does not need to register their name, many businesses do have the relevant registrations and licences required to operate. This will NOT tell you whether a business is completely genuine, but it can show that a business has taken the time and cost to register to operate their business.
2 Check the Website/Facebook Page for Contact Details All websites and Facebook business pages should have relevant contact details for the business. If you should need to contact a store owner for any reason, you should be able to do so easily. Sites and pages should have relevant postal details, email addresses and a phone number for contact. For business owners who want to ensure their personal details are not revealed, you could try using a Post Office box and a cheap mobile phone to receive business calls on.
3 Payment Always pay by Paypal. By paying with Paypal, if a transaction does go wrong, you have an avenue to attempt to receive your money back. Although Paypal comes with fees, it offers more protection that a bank transfer. NEVER email your credit card details or provide your credit details to a site that does not have a secure merchant payment facility.
4 Google Google the business name. Customers who receive bad service quite often like to tell the world and with social networking sites so popular these days, Googling a business name should provide you with any information you are looking for. Indeed, you may also find fabulous feedback about a store.
5 Ask Around Ask friends, family, social networking site contacts/forums you are involved on if anyone has used that business before. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising for businesses and happy customers always like to tell others of the great service they have received.
6 Ask for Registered Post It costs a bit extra, but this can avoid any worry or concern that your parcel will not arrive. Using registered post you can be assured your parcel has been sent and you have a very good way of tracking it if it goes astray.
6 Store Fronts Call me crazy, but I would not purchase from a store who ONLY operates on Facebook unless I was able to view the products locally. There are so many affordable options for people to operate store fronts and internet shopping carts. Gone are the days when you need to pay thousands of dollars to be able to have a basic store. Stores can be operated from blogs and online shopping malls such as madeit.com.au where listing fees are very affordable. Having your own website or store shows that a business has taken the time to establish itself, a domain name purchased and the time taken to publish all information on products and policies in order to operate their store. Facebook does not offer a lot of options for a shopper to feel comfortable.
In Sharon's case, she was not able to recoup her lost funds and she has learnt the hard way that shopping from a social networking site can have drawbacks.
Written by Handmade Kids