The internet ripped me off

By Staff Writer
September 5, 2002

Being the shop-aholic that I am, I enjoy the convenience and ease of online shopping. Having the power to make purchases with the push of a button without having to leave the house is great, especially for hard-to-find items.

However, there are downsides to making online purchases, such as credit card fraud, identity theft, false advertising, and just general bad business practices. I became victim to one of the downsides of online shopping this past summer.

Rather than just complain about my personal situation, I have decided to share some tips to help readers prevent themselves from ending up with my same dilemma.

First, my situation – I decided to utilize eBay.com to find faceplates for my cell phone, as I could not locate them anywhere for the phone model that I have. I was lucky enough to find more than enough colors and designs for faceplates than I had ever expected.

Ebay uses a service called PayPal in order to transfer payments from the buyer to the seller. However, during the week that I purchased my items, PayPal had a discrepancy in its billing system that caused them to double charge anyone using a Visa credit or check card. Of course, I was one of these people.

After the incident occurred, PayPal immediately contacted its customers to notify them of the problem and stated that it would reimburse those who suffered any fees due to the duplicate charges. Since I only had enough in my checking account to cover the purchases that I made, I was subject to four individual $30 overdraft fees for each of the purchases that I made, and after five weeks of continuous contact, I have yet to see any of the money from PayPal. I have now left my complaint in the hands of the Better Business Bureau, and hope that a resolution will come soon.

Now, although my situation may not be one of frequent dilemmas to online purchases, there are ways to avoid things such as credit card fraud and ID theft.

Look for the security lock – If you do not see the little yellow padlock in the bottom right-hand corner of your browser’s page, do not enter any personal information.

Look for reviews – Sometimes there are directories for a particular type of product, such as a laptop, where companies are compared for prices, and customers can rate the quality of the service. Search engines may bring up such directories when you search for your item.

Do Research – If it is a business that you have never heard of, go to www.bbb.org. If they don’t belong to the Better Business Bureau, then I would suggest that you not do business with them. Should you need a third party to settle a dispute, it may be more difficult.

Contact the BBB – The Better Business Bureau is there to help customers get the quality service they deserve, and prevent businesses from taking advantage of people. For any consumer complaint about a purchase, whether it be online or not, contact the BBB.

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