Watch out for Misleading Information Scam
These days, its hard to imagine life without internet. We have come to depend on internet for many tasks, for example shopping, researching, making cheap calls and many other things. Internet makes life easier because it connects people to one network. Companies, organisation or individuals offering services are connected to potential clients looking for their goods or services.
With this, comes the challenge of deferentiating between honest service providers and crooks. The line becomes even thinner with some merchants giving misleading information on their advertisements. This is becomming a common problem. A company that appears legitimate on truly offering a particular service may advertise more properties of its service than what it is really ready to provider and once a client subscribes, he/she is bluntly informed that it is not possible to offer the service as advertised.
This type of scam is increasingly becomming rampant
A friend of mine had a bad experience with an online company - http://www.viaddress.com/ - that gives a virtual address in USA to allow its clients to shop for items in USA and ship them to
their countries. This company advertises that it uses DHL service among other couriers. When my friend joined and had his items shipped to their warehouse, he was informed that they don't offer dhl service. Since in his country they only have DHL as a reliable courier, the shipping could not happen. They said DHL was too expensive and was not an option. The client tried to request quotes explaining that he was ready to foot the DHL bill instead they went quite and three months down the line, they informed him that they had trashed his items according to their policy.
These types of problems happen to many people from different service providers.
How to protect yourself
There are somethings you can do to avoid falling into such kind of trouble:
1. Google for reviews of a company
Before commiting yourself to an online transaction, spend enough time searching for user experiences from as many people as you can. Read reviews about the company. Some times you will find fake positive reviews from companies trying to create a false good impressions of themselves. The more you research, the more the picture becomes clearer.
In the case of my friend it could have been an easy decision had he taken time to read other people's experience. For example this comment:
Their shipping charges are reasonable. Only FedEx option is given when you try to ship something, although the FAQ mentions DHL and UPS.
from http://mudali.blogspot.com/2010/06/unbiased-review-of-viaddresscom.html , and more user comments on the same page and other sites .
The majority of users will always have a common opinion on a site and it will always defeat a company's false good impression in its sponsored reviews, like here
2. Take time to communicate with potential service provider before subscribing
Most merchants who use nice marketing words to try and conceal some important truths, are usually willing to disclose the real facts if you communicate enquiring about more details about their service. Ask questions that directly address your need and don't accept general answers. If you are not convinced, trust your instincts. If they avoid communication or take too long to respond, then thats a red flag.
3. Use live chat if available
Using live chat, ask direct questions. Live chats do not give merchants time to cook things up and you are likely to get a more acurate picture of what to expect. Unprofessional answers from support staff are a pointer of bad things to come.
4. User friendliness of a site and staff
This one may not be very useful but may help in narrowing down your options. Poorly done websites usually show how serious a merchant takes his client. Look out for broken or incomplete contact information, poorly described items among other inconsistencies and keep off from those.
5. Look out for meaniningless and generalised statements about their service
Concealing the real state of an item or service can be done using generalised statements. Again, establish communication with the seller and clear things up. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_advertising for more details.
Online scams will continue. The more we become carefull, the more the crooks devise new methods. Read more on how to protect yourself
That\'s a smart answer to a difficult qusetoin.
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