The online buy-and-sell site sulit.com.ph announced recently that it has gone international and will now be known as OLX.ph.
This development is certainly something Filipinos can be proud of. As managing director RJ David explains, Sulit has become the local arm of the “biggest global brand” in online classifieds.
OLX.ph has been retooled to make “visits” convenient, whether through a desktop, netbook, tablet or smartphone.
But for many Filipinos, both those who have something to sell and others wanting to buy, the main concern, whether or not a site is global, is security of online transactions.
Reports of scams victimizing online buyers keep people away from the cyber market.
Recently, it was reported that some people lost a lot of money on purchases that were not delivered. Scam artists used names of people who, when Googled, had sterling reputations.
Addressing concerns about the safety of online transactions, OLX.ph public relations supervisor Jean Magboo offers ways to make online buying and selling more secure. “We always encourage our users to meet up with their seller or buyer and close the transaction in person,” she says. “This is the best way to avoid getting scammed.” She adds that OLX clients should read buying tips that are linked in every advertisement on the site.
More importantly, she notes, buyers should be wary of unrealistic prices and should avoid paying in full without seeing or inspecting the item offered.
Sellers on OLX.ph, she says, are required to indicate their locations so buyers can decide if a face-to-face meeting is possible.
The global branding does not change the security measures that Sulit has put in place to protect its clients. Aware “that scammers will always be present in every e-commerce platform… we are screening all ads under our most popular category Buy and Sell, which includes personal items like gadgets, appliances, before they get posted on our website,” she says.
She adds that Sulit also has dedicated ad consultants, who help create accounts and ads, as well as a customer support team that provides service even at night and on weekends to ensure that users get the help they need.
She encourages vigilance among OLX clients. “Because we are not involved in the actual transaction, we need the buyers’ participation in reporting any untoward incident so we can immediately take the necessary action from our end,” she says.
The support team, Magboo says, screens ads for second-hand items not only to improve the quality of listings, but also to ensure their authenticity. OLX.ph works closely with government agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry in ensuring consumers are protected.
Magboo says OLX.ph clients can easily contact the company via e-mail or hotline for assistance.
Online property market
Incidentally, OLX has partnered recently with the South Africa-based property search platform Property24.com to offer Filipinos what it described as “the most advanced and comprehensive online property search destination.”
I visited the site and, for me, one of its better features is the fact that only licensed estate agents can make postings. Many con artists have managed to sell properties that do not belong to them or are not even for sale.
The site hopes to be truly helpful to buyers by providing such information as tax payment records so they will know immediately if the property they are interested in has liabilities. Given how “organized” our records are, I think Filipino clients will have to wait indefinitely—I am tempted to say forever, but I don’t want to be a pessimist—before they can enjoy this service.
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