Tips for safe online transactionsBy Linda B. Bolido
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Sulit.com.ph encourages people with stuff they no longer need or use to sell them online—through Sulit, of course. Many people, however, are still reluctant to buy online because of horror stories they have heard. I have received complaints from online buyers about getting the wrong item or not getting anything at all. So I asked Sulit how buyers—and sellers, too—can protect themselves from scam artists using the Internet.
Jean Magboo, corporate communications and public relations supervisor of Sulit, says people doing business online should be extra vigilant since transactions are not face-to-face. They should also use social media and Google to find out more about the seller. If very little information is available, buyers should choose COD (cash-on-delivery) instead of depositing the full payment, so they can see if they are getting the item they want before paying.
Magboo says Sulit and Pinoy Auto Trader, which it recently acquired, help clients by posting seller feedback and buying tips so people will know who to trust and what products to buy. “Buyers must always be vigilant. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. For credit card payment reversal, this must be negotiated by the buyer with his/her credit provider,” she says.
Buyers with complaints against sellers who use the Sulit platform can let the company know so it can permanently remove the erring sellers’ accounts from its website.
As for sellers, Magboo says they usually know who the serious buyers are. Sellers also have the luxury to choose from among the millions of potential buyers daily. She adds, “We continuously educate our users on how to transact online properly through tips and by having a support team they can go to for assistance.”
Magboo offers these tips to make online transactions safer:
Save yourself time, money and effort by choosing the seller/buyer you are most comfortable with.
Specify and understand payment terms. Aside from the actual product, this will be the heart of the transaction. Sellers should offer various payment options, and buyers should select the option they prefer most.
Document all conversations.
Sellers should know the market value of the product they are selling, and price it fairly and accordingly.
Buyers should set a budget. They should do research on prices of the product they want to buy and its specifications. An item that is priced too low should be suspect. It may not be the good bargain it seems to be.
And what warning signs should alert buyers/sellers that the person or persons they are dealing with are not as trustworthy as they want? Magboo says, “Check how he/she communicates with you. Sellers or buyers who really want to sell or buy an item will be consistent and firm when dealing with the other person.”
People can make online transactions safer by knowing who the seller is. They can check feedback, ask for an actual product photo, understand payment terms and document conversations.
“Always see to it that all your expectations are met. If you feel that something is amiss, even if you can’t put your finger on it, back out. Always trust your instincts,” she says.
She stresses there are always other sellers. Buyers should do extensive research on the item they want to buy, the average retail price, product specs, reviews.
It is also better, she adds, to deal locally. “Choose a seller who is near your area and always pick a meeting place that has security…to meet the seller in person and assess the quality of the item you want to buy before parting with your hard-earned money.”
Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail email@example.com.