Print 10 comment(s) - last by Mitch101.. on Nov 14 at 2:19 PM

This blog offers several basic tips for online retailers

As the holiday shopping season quickly sneaks up on all of us, I know many of you are going to turn to the Internet when trying to find gifts for loved ones.  We all know e-retailers like, and Newegg are reliable sites, but what about lesser known stores?  Should you risk the possibility of getting scammed?  What can you do to be sure the site is legitimate?  I'm going to offer several different resources I hope will be beneficial as you shop online.

Aside from word of mouth, which we all know is helpful; there are several different resources available online for you to quickly browse.  Sites such as, Pricewatch, ResellerRatings, and offer users the ability to look for the best possible prices for a wide variety of different items.

Use AnandTech, SlickDeals, and FatWallet as further tools to find hot deals and rebates discovered by fellow shoppers.

If you find a product with a low price on a web site you're not familiar with, there are two quick methods I recommend utilizing before breaking out the credit card.  I first recommend checking the Better Business Bureau, which allows you to see if the company has a good rating with the BBB.  If the company has a poor rating with the BBB, you should be hesitant about shopping with them.  The second option is to check, an online resource designed so users can evaluate online retailers. offers more than 250,000 user reviews on 13,428 retailers.

"Research is a key aspect of shopping knowledge, which is where ResellerRatings comes into play," said Robert Richmond, Marketing Specialist.  "By cross correlating price search data with vendor reviews at ResellerRatings, consumers can best gauge where and how to spend their money."

If you're worried about possible fraud, Richmond also recommends using credit cards -- not debit cards -- as "the best insurance" against possible fraud.

Good luck!

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A Caveat
By Symmetriad on 11/12/2007 12:40:21 PM , Rating: 2
The one caveat I'll give for reseller review sites is that most people are only going to be compelled to give reviews if they have a bad experience; therefore, it's possible to get an overly negative impression of an online retailer if you're going by that alone.

However, as a general gauge of "Is this company legit and will I get decent/timely service, or are they a bunch of crooks/disorganized bastards," reseller review sites are a critical resource. I wish I'd found them before my horrible experience with Colorcases/ a few years back (DO NOT EVER use these guys, by the way).

RE: A Caveat
By Spivonious on 11/12/2007 4:06:12 PM , Rating: 2
Good point. Reviews online tend to always be a little lower than the real world since people that have a good experience don't feel the need to leave a good review. I like leaving good reviews though; it helps balance out the world. And Newegg sent me a hat and t-shirt for leaving a good review for them once. How's that for service? :)

RE: A Caveat
By therealnickdanger on 11/13/2007 12:24:16 PM , Rating: 4
Also, aren't there bots and scammers that add fake positive ratings that manipulate these automated ratings-gathering sites? I remember there was an online store selling a camera I wanted for about half of it's known cost. Pricegrabber and others listed it with a very high customer rating. A quick Google of the e-tailer exposed it as a total scam site. Pretty scary.

Amazon has a great feature now. You can purchase items through other e-tailers, using Amazon as the middle-man. Amazon takes on full fraud responsibility.

RE: A Caveat
By Symmetriad on 11/13/2007 3:26:19 PM , Rating: 2
It's certainly a known and prevalent phenomenon. The site that I mentioned in my last post very blatantly had employees making positive-feedback posts for their company on reseller rating sites: You could tell right down to the syntax, vocabulary, and hilarious consistency in certain spelling and grammatical errors. There's probably some sort of security software floating around out there that tries to detect bots and scammers, but the best way to handle things is to employ diligent, intelligent moderators. Unfortunately, moderator quality tends to vary wildly in any kind of forum or posting venue.

RE: A Caveat
By Symmetriad on 11/13/2007 4:12:17 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, and I almost forgot - with the account registered in their name, they actually made false claims about the people posting negative reviews, and in fact accused many of them being fraudulent claims by competitors.

Unfortunately, most of the bad vendors aren't quite dumb enough to paint themselves into a corner like that. :)

RE: A Caveat
By marvdmartian on 11/13/2007 4:12:28 PM , Rating: 1
Agreed, most people will report a negative experience with an online retailer. The ones I always get a kick out of (especially on the AT Hot Deals forum!) is the clown that will get on and scream and moan about how they, usually after a year's time, will make unreasonable demands on the Newegg CSR......and how horrible Newegg is for not bowing and scraping, and caving in to their demands! Yeah..... while I'm not saying that the 'Egg isn't without their faults, they sure didn't get a 9+ reseller rating by being the piece of crap company that some of the jokers claim they are! (eyeroll)

Another good source of information is simply to use your favorite search engine to do a quick search on that e-tailer. Believe me, I've done that and found out some nasty stuff being posted about sites on other forums, that have made me pause (and oftentimes hold off) before buying from them.

It's why I'm glad that ebay feedback now includes a chance to grade the seller on how well they describe the item, time to ship, packaging, etc. I just recently marked a long time seller as an overall positive, but gave her 2 out of 5 stars for shipping, since it took her a month to get my item to me! :(

RE: A Caveat
By Mitch101 on 11/14/2007 2:19:05 PM , Rating: 2
I stopped using pricewatch because there are so many lousy companies in there that always have the lowest prices it detracts so much from the legitimate good ones that the site has become useless. It used to be great but the scum of the earth who sell refurbs or broken items as working with restocking fees have really toasted that site.

Coupon Search
By Bioniccrackmonk on 11/12/2007 12:25:12 PM , Rating: 2
A lot of online stores have a promotion code you can put in before you finalize your sale. One thing I do is search for promotional codes via google, yahoo, etc, to see what is currently available. Most of the time you can find free shipping but sometimes you can find something a little more valuable.

Just go to your favorite search engine and type:

<company name> +promotion +code

The search engine will find you links to websites that host these codes and some might make you do extra things for it, ignore those because there are plenty that just give you the code free. Hope this helps any online shoppers this season.

By Chocolate Pi on 11/13/2007 7:29:43 AM , Rating: 2
A post on online shopping assistants and data, and no mention of the incredibly excellent, industry-defining RTPE at AnandTech?

Now, I'll just wait here for that 6 if you don't mind.

By darkpaw on 11/13/2007 9:13:46 AM , Rating: 2
If you shop online, use a real credit card. It provides you the best protection, and if there are any issues the card company almost always sides with the consumer as long as you have documentation.

Debit cards are really bad because if the number is stolen, the crooks will be cleaning you out directly, at least until you can get your bank to refund the money.

I spent several years working in the front office of a small company that did almost all our business online. The amount of credit card fraud is really high so both businesses and consumers have to be wary.

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