Okay, this has been really bugging me lately.
Social media sites are drowning with advertisements, which are being cleverly disguised as regular consumers giving their honest opinions about products and services. Web stores pop up, take your money and disappear; ungenuine, ecstatic reviews are being posted by people hoping to get freebies or money; Public Relations people are posing as average beauty bloggers to sell their companies products.
On one side of my brain – the sales person side – I think “clever, clever” but on the other side – my smart consumer side – I think, “this is so sneaky”. Truth is that its fair play in the game of consumerism. It’s not a new tactic. It’s just a bigger playing field with fewer rules.
Anyways, here’s a few tips and tricks to avoid getting ripped off:
“Get this for free, just pay $5.99 shipping and handling!” Not really. Most of these are unknown eCommerce sites who are actually making money from their freebie. Their profit is part of the S&H charge. The wholesale cost of the item is usually about 1/3 the cost of the item and the wholesaler ships it out for free. This doesn’t necessarily mean its a rip off for you – most products you buy are marked up 300% – but these sites are usually set up to be quick cash for a seller. They focus on getting a large amount of first-time sales, and don’t care about return sales. That means the product and customer service is usually poor quality, and unethical sellers can take your money and run with very little you can do about it.
1. Be logical and lower your expectations. You get what you pay for.
2. Read the negative comments under the post instead of just the first couple of comments that come up. The first comments are the ones that are posted by the seller to make their product look good.
3. Check out the website. Make sure the links actually work. If it makes a claims like, “featured in…” or “award winning…” or “miracle cure”; look into it. Click on the About, Contact, and other basic links to see if they are working or they just bring up the same page you were already on.
4. Use safe forms of payment and pay attention to your bill.
If you have not spent much time reviewing and buying products online, then you may not yet realize how often reviews are skewed in favor of the product or company. Besides corporate beauty bloggers/ vloggers, companies will post their own fake reviews. There are also a bunch of Review Clubs and Companies that offer samples, discounts and payment for reviews (Disclaimer: I belong to a couple, but I am always honest in my opinions, as are many other bloggers/vloggers). People are tempted to post more positive reviews if it means they’ll get something from it, and this creates a very skewed perception of the product.
1. Be skeptical. Not every product is “the greatest product ever made.”
2. Read the negative reviews. If there are no negatives to this product in any of the reviews, then I refer you to Answer 1.
3. Download an app such as, “Fake Spot“, which helps recognize patterns that would indicate fake reviews.
Lots of bloggers/vloggers get money for reviews, affiliate sales and advertising, but that doesn’t mean they are trying to con you or going to lie in their review to make the product look good. The good reviewers will be up front with the companies they are reviewing and their followers, letting them know what the deal is in disclaimers. However there are some reviewers that are just trying to sell a product so they can make a buck. Sometimes its difficult to know the difference.
1. Experience. Even sales people can be honest, lol. Just like every other service out there, you will have people who are good at what they do and people who are bad at what they do; you’ll have honest people and shady people. The trick is get more than one review until you trust their expertise.
2. Take note of the sponsors, affiliate codes and advertising. If they are sponsored by Pete’s Port-a-Potties, then its doubtful you’ll hear them say “crap” unless they are describing its sewage features.
E COMMERCE STORES:
E Commerce Sites are easy to set up and easy to run. The internet is a great place to start small business’ on a large scale. Wholesalers are more widely available to everyday people, and its a lot simpler to start up a business with little to no experience. This sometimes results in great stores with awesome products and personable customer service, and sometimes it results in sellers who can’t manage the demand. Factor into the equation, the shady-scammers, outright thieves, and lack of options to reclaim your hard earned money, and your dealing with a lot of land mines.
1. Refer to the Facebook Freebies answer.
2. Make sure the site has an independent website address or is off of a well known marketplace website, like Etsy or Amazon that offers its own consumer protection.
3. Make sure it has a way to contact the company besides just a contact form. It should list a working phone number, email address and physical address.
4. Check out and understand their refund policy listed on the site.
5. Look for a BBB logo(Better Business Bureau) not all sites have it, but its definitely a plus. 6. Don’t just search for reviews on the product, but on the business as well. Sometimes just typing the name of the store will bring up fraud or consumer complaints.
6. Keep the receipt, order number, and tracking number until you are positive you are happy with the sale.
PASS IT ON:
Be honest with your own reviews and be vocal about online fraud. You don’t want to buy something and feel ripped off. Don’t let that happen to others.