Dec 29, 2007

One {or 6} Bad Apples...

It's like a mini-epidemic that disturbs me - online businesses and stores that just plain don't give a rip if they do anything but take your money. I am aware of at least TWO subscription based sites that just shut down without explanation. They never offered to refund anyone's subscription money - they just took it and ran.

Then, there is the plethora of online retailers who think that 3 or 6 or 18 weeks (or in some cases NEVER) is a fast shipping time. How can you sleep at night knowing you are literally just ripping people off?

Sometimes people offer all sorts of excuses - "my dog died", "I had surgery", "my computer crashed", etc. Okay, fine, at least RESPOND to your emails and refund the money if you can't meet your obligation. Don't drag it out and not respond or whine about not having the money to refund - WAHH... cry me a river. The person who sent it to you doesn't care - they just want THEIR money back. It only becomes YOUR money when you send them what they bought. When someone sends you money for product, you enter into a contract with them. Don't take it so lightly. Mail fraud is serious business.

Unfortunately, we (meaning society) seem to be moving at hyper speed towards a complete and total loss of integrity. Doing something naughty and offering lame excuses seems to be "in" right now. How sad for us. I mean, some little girl just won Hannah Montana tickets by writing an essay all about her dad getting killed in Iraq. Only to have her mother admit it wasn't really true. She claimed she didn't know it had to be a TRUE essay (sounds like the HOF mess, to me. "What? I really HAD to take my own photos??? FOR REALS? You were kidding, right?"). They may take the tickets away from the little girl - and I think they should. It would teach her something her mother didn't and maybe, just maybe, she'll grow up with an ounce of integrity.

One of the problems with the scrapbook industry that is both a blessing and a curse, is that the barrier to entry is low. That means that anyone who can get a business license can open a business. That's GREAT on one hand because it means "The American Dream" is alive and well in the scrapbook industry. But, it also means that anyone can open a business - even dishonest people. Usually you only find out they are dishonest when you lose a bunch of money to them.

I'm not going to name names - there are plenty of MB's where the bad apples ARE being called out. But, I'm going to offer you some tips to help you evaluate the online store you are about to buy something from. These tips aren't ALWAYS true in every case, but the bad-apple online stores seem to have these things in common. Here are my yellow flags:
  1. Bad, cheesy, hard to navigate website - if they were serious about their business, it would show in their site.
  2. Tons of RULES and lots of excuses. If they have a list of rules a mile long with ridiculous things like, "If I'm sick, which I often am, then shipping will be 5 weeks" or "I only mail things out in months with 31 days" or "if you are wearing blue undies when you place your order then you must pay in rolls of quarters sent to me via FedEx". That shows that the owner really doesn't understand customer service. Policies should be about protecting and helping the customers.
  3. Personally, I trust a website with it's OWN domain name over one that is something like, " Domains are CHEAP - it goes back to number one on the list. This is their place of business.
  4. Not taking credit cards. Again, they are doing it on the cheap - proceed with caution. Only taking paypal doesn't bother me. That's all I do. Paypal has a REALLY BAD rap. I've used it for years and never had a problem. And, now you don't have to have a paypal account to buy something from a website.
  5. Deep discount sites. Honestly, you can't make money selling everything at 40% off. Here today and possibly gone tomorrow... with your money.

In the words of former president, Ronald Reagan, "Trust but verify". Not every online business with these 5 things going on is going to take your money and run. But, if a business owner is truly serious about their business, they will look and act that way from the get-go. And, not every business that looks top-notch will have everything in stock all the time and give you the best service. But, generally speaking, a good business LOOKS like a good business and a shady one looks, well, not so great.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kim!
Just found your blog today and have really enjoyed reading it. I am sorry that I won't get to meet you at CHA in February!

Thena Smith

Anonymous said...

How do you find a website designer that will give you a high class look for your business?

Kim Guymon said...

Website designers are all around. There are places where you can get bids for sites. It's not hard to find someone who can make a professional site for you - you can even buy a template and have it customized. It just takes a little time and money. Your site is your place of business. You need curb-appeal to be taken seriously.

Kim Guymon said...

Thanks, Thena! I always enjoy your poems! You are very talented! Have fun at CHA!