We join social networking sites for various reasons. Some want to meet new people, others want to look for old friends. Still, some want to join interest groups; others, discussion fora. Whatever the reasons may be, social networking sites provide a new venue where people may interact regardless of geographical distance and limitations.
My first foray into social networking sites was in Friendster. Joining was actually a no-choice as I did it simply to monitor my then thirteen-year-old son’s activities on the Internet. Later on, as I got more net savvy, I joined Facebook whose appeal lies on its interactivity and its games. At around the same time, I also opened a Multiply account, and on this, I have to be honest and say I joined to be able to buy Hello Kitty stuff online.
I have, in the last two years, been a frequent Multiply buyer. In the course of doing business with others, I have been witness in my circles to breaches in social rules that result in joy reservers, bogus buyers, and bogus sellers. How, then, do we attempt to avoid all these headaches?
Here are some suggestions for buyers (part one) and sellers (part two) alike. If I miss anything, please feel free to add them in the comments section and I will update the list and give you credit for the suggestion.
Kittymama’s Guide to Good Manners and Online Businesses for Buyers
1. Read. Read seller’s descriptions very well and repeatedly to avoid misunderstanding or false expectations.
2. Check first if the item price has been posted before asking “how much?” This saves the seller from unnecessary inquiries and saves her time and effort.
3. If you have questions on the item, do not hesitate to ask via text or email but always introduce yourself and indicate your purpose clearly.
4. Be polite. Send polite and clear inquiries whether it be via email or text.
5. When using private messages, do not use text language. Do not assume that your seller is well-versed in text language. Phrase your questions clearly and in complete words to avoid having to repeat the same inquiries.
6. Once you make a reservation, make sure that you are serious in buying and have the money on hand to pay for it. Don’t reserve today if you are looking to pay for it with next week’s salary. By locking out an item you cannot pay for, you are depriving the seller the chance to make an honest profit from a sure buyer.
7. Provide up-to-date and clear contact details. Indicate your handle and provide your real name, address, cellphone and landline, and even your zip code. If your home address will likely cause confusion for the courier, elaborate by giving landmarks.
8. Know your seller. Don’t be afraid to ask for a name and contact number; after all, you have given them yours.
9. If an invoice is due any day, set time to check your inbox for messages and updates. You cannot excuse late payment by saying that you were offline. If you can go online to reserve an item, you can go online to finalize the transaction.
10. For preorders requiring down payment, pay your deposit promptly. Two years ago, deposits were virtually unheard of and trust was the rule of the day but because of bogus buyers, sellers have been forced to ask for deposits to ensure future payment. We do not want to wait for the day when sellers will require full payment upfront even for preorders.
11. Mark the estimated time of arrival on your calendar for preorders so you will know when to contact your seller for updates. With their growing list of clients, sometimes, they are hard pressed to provide each and every one with update. In an ideal world, such a responsibility would hardly merit a second thought- it would be a given. But since you have paid your deposit, you must share the burden of following-up on your orders.
12. Pay promptly, preferably on same day as the invoice. Sellers generally give their clients a short leeway and time allowance for payment (usually three days). Don’t abuse their kindness and don’t give the seller cause to have to run after you.
13. Don’t use your seller’s pictures to show off your purchases. Unless you are granted permission to repost them with credit, take your own pictures.
14. Be gracious and say thank you for a business transaction done smoothly. If you can, leave recommendations on their feedback page.
15. For complaints, go straight to the seller if you wish for action to be taken. If you are ignored and your complaints are dismissed, then you may wish to take further action by reporting it to the network. You are free to express your disappointment in your blog, but remember to do so with discretion and with respect for a person’s reputation.
Coming right up: Part Two of Kittymama’s Guide to Good Manners and Online Businesses for Sellers