Saturday, 25 May 2013

The PAM Guide To: Safe On-line Shopping


Internet safety is essential. There have been numerous reports of suspected scammers affecting our very hobby recently: from the USA to the Ukraine to China. The activities vary from taking your money and not delivering the goods, to the more recent activities of illegal recasting and supplying you with poor-quality produce, some of which maybe dangerous (I've heard industrial resin is a dangerous substance if you don't know how to handle it). Whilst sometimes it is obvious whether or not a site will scam you, there are a few who happen to be very good at convincing people to buy from them, and as a result, people who use their 'services' loose out on money, trades and more. With more coming out of the blue in recent weeks (I've counted at least four individual cases), I'll be sharing with you my advice on safe war-game purchasing.


Be safe: Ensure you can get your stuff!


Contact

An address is a good place to start. By law, all internet business based in the UK must have a real-world address to provide contact/deliver to and from, and businesses may choose to have a phone number. Other countries might have similar laws in place. If the web store only has an email, it is very easy for them not to be traced, and they can claim to have lost your hundreds of "where's my stuff" emails. Also, a give away is if they have a basic email address (@gmail.com, @hotmail.com). Of course, they might not have the money yet for an official email, but be careful. Also, if they do have an address, it cannot hurt to check it exists, and check multiple sections/documents to see if addresses match up.

Ratings

We all aspire to be the best, but nobody is perfect. This also applies to businesses. They all get good and bad feedback. If you see a business with a 100% positive rating, be careful. They may be perfect, but there is a chance that they might quell negative feedback to look better, or could even have forged the entire system. When looking on-line, look for places which have had tons of reviews, not just five perfect ones. In my opinion, an overall score of 95% from 1000 people is better than 100% from 20 people.

Also, ask your friends and gaming colleagues: they will provide a better opinion than what people on the internet may, as you can trust their opinions more. If your friends have had good experiences with a company, then it seems fair to say that you might too.


Discounts

"10-20% is the norm for 'standard' items such as common plastic kits"
Now, we all love a discount, and the conmen out there are aware of it. I am not saying "avoid anything discounted", a number of places offer great discounts. But be realistic. Some items cannot be heavily discounted without making a loss. For example, Forge World and Puppetswar items are not sold by other retailers, unless they buy stock at full-price. So, if people are having to buy at full-cost like the rest of us, how can they offer 20%, 30% or even more off these items, especially if they specialise in rare and harder to get items. Some items like plastic kits can be discounted, but just be careful; that bargain might be too good to be true. You might end up with a poor copy of a copy, or nothing at all. Be aware that second hand is completely different, and you can expect cheap prices there. I am merely referring to new-in-box gear. As a guideline, 10-20% is the norm for 'standard' items such as common plastic kits and accessories.

The Website

If the website looks like it was put together in about an hour, then I wouldn't risk it. Many scammers are out for a quick-buck, and wont invest heavily in the site as the more skilled ones. Check for errors in design and spelling. Keep an eye out for the payment methods, it can make the difference if you are conned. Also, look out for images and text you may have seen before elsewhere; chances are it may have been nicked from another site. I know that some of the offending sites were using copyrighted GW and FW images to display models and text taken from the Lexicanum. One re-caster was using other pictures of other models, which leads to another tip, check the images match the description!

Faces

We all like to put a face to the name, and this is another important aspect. Having human contact builds up trust and gives people someone to talk to about issues. If a company has no real-world presence or acknowledgement of who's who, then it is a bit suspect. I would not buy from someone who hides behind a screen.

Buy local

If all else fails, buy from a real-world store or event. It is a million times harder to fake a real store with real products, real people, real rent and real doors. Having the product in your hands is proof enough it is a real item and you have it, you will not get a message saying "it's on its way, trust us". The internet is a haven for conmen because they do not need to dedicate their ill-earned money to setting up shop, unlike legitimate tradesmen. It's also another reason to support your local store.


To finish off, here is a brief list of my trusted on-line sellers. Note that the list isn't extensive, they are just stores based on my own experiences that I can count on to not rob me of my moneys:


-Games Workshop
-Forgeworld
-Anvil Industries
-Putrid Painting
-Amazon* (certain sellers)

4 comments:

  1. An excellent information about the online shopping. In the modern days, the online shopping has become a new trend. The article is really helpful for generating the awareness about the online shopping. Thanks for posting!

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  2. Excellent post. If anyone wants to know more reputable sellers I can personally vouch for Wayland Games, The Troll Trader (also on ebay) and Triple Helix.

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  3. Criminals always find their way to make more money over the internet—and if you're not aware, there's a possibility you'll fall prey to them. A better way to prevent this is to be aware of such cybercrimes. Remember that there is less jurisdiction and control over the web. Nevertheless, this post is very informative indeed. Thanks for raising our awareness more. Have a great day!

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  4. Buying online is good until you are responsible for your credits details. You should be careful from where are you purchasing and feeling your information.
    one day deal

    ReplyDelete