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Radovan Semančík's Weblog

Wednesday, 23 September 2009
« Metasystem and the Network Effect | Main | Caveat Emptor »

I do shopping on-line quite frequently. It's convenient, time-saving and often cheaper. I used to be quite an non-trusting customer, opting for personal pick-up of the items and paying in cash or card on pick-up. Everything worked well, until quite recently. In last two months or so I had some problems. One local e-shop haven't even bothered to respond to my order. Another shop seemed fine, but the delivery was delayed obviously due attitude of one of the shop's employees. The problems were sorted out quickly and I hope that this specific employee is not employed any more. But the third case was the most interesting. A shop in the Luxembourg asked for a payment in advance but promised to deliver in few days. After I've paid they become silent. After a couple of weeks they sent a mail to inform me that they do not have the item I've ordered and that it could be deliver, but they need few more weeks. Unacceptable. I don't understand this. I would expect that in the times of economic crisis the shops will be struggling to attract the customers and respect them. But what I see is exact opposite. I would guess that the reason is a low entry barrier: almost anyone can open an electronic shop and pretend to be a merchant in good standing.

What I've learned is that it is better not to trust any shop too much (and not to shop in Luxembourg any more). But learning to distrust everybody is bad for business and for overall cooperation. I tend to believe that some companies should not live to see tomorrow, while others should receive much more attention that they have now. The question is which companies should die, which should flourish and how to make sure that the collateral damage is minimized during that sorting process. There are so many shops, so many customers and so many products that it is unlikely that a "word of mouth" will spread fast enough to influence future customers. Just consider for a moment what are my options to act against a dishonest merchant In my Luxembourg Case? Just walk away does not solve the problem. I was shopping there for the first time and It is not likely I will shop there again even if their service is excellent. The item I was buying was quite special - as are most of the items people buy on the Internet. I could sue that dishonest company or I could notify Luxembourg regulatory authorities, but that would cost me time and money. While I could still do it to calm my anger, it is not efficient from a rational point of view. Providing feedback should be much easier and cheaper.

We live in the information age (or at least we think so). What we need is an automated, Internet-based mechanism how to express an opinion about shops, vendors, products and similar things. I would like to express my dissatisfaction with the Luxembourg shop so my friends (and fiends of their friends) can avoid it. And I would like to express satisfaction with a shop in Slovakia that can keep up their promises, so my friends (and fiends of their friends) may prefer that shop over other similar shops. This could help to kill the weed and let the crop flourish. Especially in a hard times like these. What we need is a decent, easy-to-use and reasonably universal reputation system.

Posted by semancik at 11:19 PM in misc

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