Online shopping is an absolutely invaluable resource for anyone interested in scoring easy deals from the comfort of their own home. Any business that wants to survive in this day and age has to have a presence online, and that fact alone has led to online shopping being far more vast and legitimate than it was in its infancy. There are many sites to shop completely legitimately, with comprehensive customer service and return policies in the event of dissatisfaction. However, even on legitimate sites, there are scammers that can lurk around, waiting for an opportunity to grab your cash and run. Luckily, there are common ways to spot them before they manage it.
Customer Reviews, and Why You’ve Got to Pay Attention to Them
Most sites that allow sellers to open up their own shops will have a section for customers to submit public feedback in the form of star rankings and text reviews. The section can either be an endorsement of the seller’s legitimacy, or a warning against them. New sellers without reviews should be approached carefully, and with the expectation that a scam might occur. Can these customer reviews be faked? While most auction sites like eBay have set up their systems in ways that faked reviews are difficult (one must have purchased an item from the seller before a review can be submitted), general sale sites like Amazon can have a tricky job of separating the real reviews from the fakes. Amazon permits free reviewing privileges on specific products being sold, and even encourages people who haven’t necessarily bought the product off the site to submit a review on the product’s quality. One needn’t even have an Amazon account, and signing up for an account to begin with is a very easy process. While this allows for a more comprehensive look at the product, it also opens the floodgates for a scammer to submit fake reviews with dozens of fake accounts. Watch out for reviews that have overly-samey writing styles and typing quirks, and watch out for reviewers who are mysteriously defending a seller or product from dozens of other reviewers deriding them. You’ll generally find that it’s just a seller trying to defend their bad service or bad products.
Spotting Fakes and Bad Quality from a Mile Away
Bootleg and poor-quality merchandise has always been a problem that a buyer might have to face, but when dealing with online purchases, it can often be more difficult to spot these issues. If a product picture isn’t outright faked, photo-edited, or stolen, it may simply have been subjected to a number of simple yet clever camera tricks designed to hide design flaws. To determine if a picture has been stolen from a more reputable seller, Google Reverse Image Search can be an invaluable resource, but isn’t the end-all. Don’t be afraid to grill a seller on specifics, or even a request for a current picture of the item. Steer clear if they don’t provide clear, prompt information and replies, or at least proceed with extreme caution.