Author Topic: Alert for Net users about Online price-list trick--Beware of unexpected payment  (Read 138 times)

Offline mycomchat

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Alert for Net users about Online price-list trick--Beware of unexpected payment after online purchase
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There are so many websites providing services for online book searches. Many or most of these websites have a feature to allow users to search books based on the listed total price. So by entering a book name or ISBN ,many users can see a list of numerous books on a webpage usually with books of lower prices getting shown first.
 There will be a bothering problem to a customer if the online seller makes a cheap (but fake) price for a book to be listed first by search engines and then later requests more money or additional payment from the customer several days after placing an order.

The following true story is from a worrisome experience ,happened in August.
If you like to purchase products online and might feel interested to read this story and my suggestion, it may help you to deal with similar problems from some tricky, cunning or slippery online sellers when you may unluckily encounter them sometimes.

It began when I found one interesting book that I wanted to buy. I just placed an order online with the website that I previously registered,as I did normally to buy books, because I agreed with the quoted price.
But this time, the seller requested additional payment of over 70% of the total price listed on Internet,with a reason that the book had an over weight.
I did remember that I bought a small soft-cover book, so I felt that it was too strange a reason and decided to cancel this order.
Note that the soft-cover book was only of a small-size paper for its width and length and only 1.5cm thick.

Several days later, I found the same book with a slightly increased price on the same website. I would tried to place an order again ,but this time with another online bookseller. Too bad, about three weeks later I saw another bothering email from this new bookseller that informed me about: "the package was undeliverable due to incorrect address/Address incomplete. Please call to the destination office of the shipper at a phone
number".
This was so unusual because I previously placed several online orders on this website and already bought books from several booksellers who have listed and sold their books on this website. Other honest booksellers of this website could deliver my purchased book to my specified shipping address successfully.

Although I felt hesitant to make a phone call nor wasted my time at first, I was compelled by the second paragraph of the email. That coercive paragraph was copied here:
 "We request you to provide us the requested information or solve the issue TODAY immediately as the packages may be destroyed at destination or returned to the origin. Once returned to us, the "shipper" will be charged the return freight which is greater than order value. In this case, we cannot canceled and refund to you."
 They just tried to find a reason to avoid a refund for a customer.

As I interpreted the seller's message, if I do not call, the package may be destroyed or returned to origin, and if it is returned, they cannot refund my money. But after I made a phone call to the shipper's office to verify my shipping address, I found that my address given to them was really correct.
  Instead they asked me to pay an extra amount of money for a Handling Charge before the shipper could deliver the book to me.The requested Handling Charge was over 40% of the total listed price paid when placing the order.

The important question is :why didn't they add all service fees for shipping to the shipping cost so that the total price shown on the web was the exact amount they wanted ?
 If they showed the true shipping cost, it would add up to the total price that is substantially higher than other proposed prices by other booksellers and thus the website would not list their advert of the book to sell on the top of webpage.

  So I suspect that it was a trick to make up a lower shipping price or lower total price.
Then the foxy seller could get a better chance for listing products on top of webpages and could sell more quickly online.
This kind of experienced seller knows that if they informed me of the increased (true) price early, I would cancel this order because I could remember lower prices offered by other sellers. So, they would ship the product before charging more money by mentioning some reasons though may be fake. Also they sent the email telling that they could not refund if I would not make a phone call.This happened after the due date of payment or money transfer from my bank account. So I had no way of calling my bank to hold back the
money transfer when I read such a coercing email. I think, their trick was very well planned in advance.

Definitely, an online customer like me is very unhappy with this trick for some reasons.

First reason, it made me wasted more time and money.I had to call them several times to get a clear explanation.

Second reason, this trick is unfair for other good or honest online sellers who show the true total price of their advertised products.
Every experienced online buyer knows the good practice of selling and shipping online products. After having agreement for the listed total price and making a payment online with a bank card, customers just wait for their shipment at home and do nothing else or pay no more money to get the goods. Good online sellers follow this good practice.

But good sellers will lose business opportunities if some dodgy sellers use a trick to make a deceptive low price to attract customers, and later use some fake reasons to request addition money before delivery. The good sellers may never be able to offer a lower total price to get their product list on top of webpages because their true total prices are based on TRUE shipping costs. The tricky sellers can just monitor the shipping prices and total prices of products offered by other sellers, then adjust or reduce the shipping cost so that the fake total price is always lower than the total price of products offered by good sellers.
 It will turn out that the foxy sellers can possibly sell products more quickly or get more e-business opportunities than honest sellers can. But a tricky seller can make more money from customers by using some fake reasons and helps from the shipper or its business partner to request more money which add up to the total price that the seller actually want from victimized buyers during shipping or before delivery. The victim or deceived customers will have to pay more money to the tricky seller than they could if they bought from a good seller offering a product with a true total price.
 Usually the victim or buyer who already spend much time waiting, will likely to tolerate and accept to pay some money, also because the tricky seller is reluctant to refund by citing some fudged or manipulated reasons the seller can possibly invent. Then the tricky seller and the shipper can possibly share the additional money paid by the buyer.
 One notice about the name and email contact of online sellers, usually an online seller prefers to use a company name and often a public or free email is used. Thus, if a foxy seller encounters a problem, he can just easily change the name and email,then come back for business.

 Worse, if some other sellers know that this kind of trick was applied succesfully and also want more opportunities to make more money, they may be prone to apply the same trick, especially if they also know that a customer likely yields to pay as they request in order to save time.
When this trick can possibly be more widespread, more customers will lose money in an unfair manner and good sellers will also lose some e-business opportunities.
When more customers or people feel that it is difficult to trust online sellers, it is quite certain that we will experience a decline of e-commerce.
 The online marketplace will become untrustworthy.

This kind of foreseeable problems and issues motivates me to spend time to write and explain this story for other Internet users and online buyers.
  I feel that it is quite important to alert and warn other online customers about the fake-price trick described above.
 Every time, a foxy seller can gain more money by using a trick, it is analogous to giving this seller a reward by the conceded customer or victim. So a customer like me who surrenders to such a tricky seller, is a part of the positive reinforcement for misconducted e-commerce. This makes me feel regretted.
 I also try to think about a solution or a way to deal with this kind of tricks or problems from a foxy seller. A proposed idea will be explained later in this story.

Actually book publishings and sellers are a part of scholarly community or society in which students and young scholars learn, imitate and grow up.
People,organizations and companies in the scholarly society include teachers and workers in schools,universities,editors,publishers,distributors and sellers of literature and books that students read. Many students learn about how to make a moral decision and act accordingly from examples and senior people whose behavior they may observe.
In the scholarly society, if some workers try to apply their knowledge and experience to invent tricks or tactics for gaining more money or business opportunities, students and young scholars can easily notice and learn such immoral tricks. And when no one can complain or criticize the senior and the tricks become widespread in the community, students may perceive that such tricky practices may deem acceptable.
 The line of morality between honesty and dishonesty can become blurred and blurred.
 It will be more difficult to teach students about ethics and honesty. When a student misconducts to gain some benefits or money, the parent or police might interrogate him for reasons of doing. The student might just reply that he learns such a trick from some older workers in his community and see that the trick becomes widespread. No one ever spends time to teach the young what kind of practices is ethically acceptable and what is not, especially when victims would not waste time to resist nor complain. A widely adopted trick
or immoral practice can make the young confused and make lower standards of ethic in our society.
 If you are a worker who sometimes apply a trick for a benefit, and if a child can observe and learn to remember how to apply such a trick, he may tell his parent that you are the example or reference for learning a tricky business.
How do you feel when you accidentally train a new foxy generation who just like to watch and follow your trick and tactic ?

 Presently, we are living in an era of parallel worlds being the physical and the cyber domains. Many students and young scholars spend most time of a day  being online or surfing Internet rather than talking and interacing with their parent and teachers at a school.

 Scholars who often read textbooks become well familiar with honesty and a good social value of grateful acknowledgements for ideas and intellectual contributions from other people to written works of the author. Many authors would dedicate a substantial part of the beginning section for this purpose. However, this ethical value should not be the only one emphasis for teaching good ethics to the young in scholarly communities.
 Honesty is still very important for all aspects of doing business between any workers in
the global scholarly community and students.
So,the young can find good examples for learning an ethical standard of good social values.
Even if we try to write codes of ethics and force students to repeatedly remember,it might become worthless when the young often experience paradoxical tricky business practices that some workers like to use.

 Normally,mothers want their children to grow up to be good people and persist to keep up good social values and ethics of honesty and justice. Honesty is a good value for all aspects of living and doing business. It is especially important to gain an everlasting trust from customers for sustaining and fostering trades,business and e-commerce.
 Actually, social leaders must demonstrate full supports to preserve honesty in working and doing business.
 So a mother can teach her children easily without being worried to explain why the young find paradoxical examples of tricks and dishonesty from some workers whom they often deal with in the community. It might be hard to have people in every community of the entire world to keep up being honest.
 But a good attempt can be started within the scholarly or academic society.

To encounter this kind of problems,I have an idea that might be a possible solution or a contemporary remedy. A customer is quite unlucky when he or she finds a product list with a seductive total price by a foxy seller and decides to place an order online. If we have a law or regulation to prohibit requesting an additional charge or payment after the online purchase on websites and the total price shown on websites must be final, customers will be free from being a victim of a trick for faked prices.
 But I do not know any applicable laws that can help.
Meanwhile, when customers still look for helps or relevant laws, it is a good idea that they should find a way for protecting themselves. To avoid an unexpected money charge after purchasing, a preventive step is a good way to attain this goal.
 Usually, a customer must register with the website when he or she wants to purchase products online. After purchasing or placing an order online,the website usually send a welcome and thank-you message via an email. Then,the customer can start to have contacts with the customer-service staffs of the website.
 Thereafter customers can ask for important common agreements.

First,customers insist to only pay once when placing an order online and then they just wait for the product delivery at home. Note this is a normal good practice.

Second,the total price shown must be final and sellers and shippers must not request additional payment during shipping,after the seller accept the product order from the website. Sellers and shippers must include all costs in the whole process of selling, shipping and delivery in the total price shown to customers for making a buying decision.

Third, customers can choose to only contact the customer service of the website for any issues after an online purchase. Customers do Not have to spend time for any requests from sellers and shippers. When sellers accept an order and send the shipping address information to the shippers, they must know whether they can deliver the product to the specified address. If they cannot, just refund money to the customer's account.
 In summary,customers can only contact the website to inform if they cannot get their purchased product in order to get a refund. Customers do not have to spend time to deal with any problems during shipping or delivery. The website and the seller should pay any unexpected additional charges. Though you may receive a notice from a seller, you can have an agreement with the website that you would ignore any abnormal notices or requests after placing an online order on the website.
 If the website can not agree with the above or refuse, it is questionable whether customers will encounter risks of paying more money after purchasing online.
Then,customers should make a decision to minimize their own risks,i.e. whether to deal with them.

 During a long period of long holidays and Christmas, the online selling business might become so competitive because many customers want to buy a gift or a present for their friends or family. Such kind of tricky e-business may emerge again.
 So I feel that it is important to alert other internet users to know about their tricks.
This is my contribution for Internet/e-commerce community to help other users to deal with this kind of tricks; only what I can do to foster the trustworthy Internet and e-commerce.

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