Written on May, 22, 2016 by in

Hi everybody!

So after some vacation time in Colorado, I am back to writing here about the ins and outs of not getting scammed when purchasing products or services online.

It is intriguing to me seeing how popular buying stuff online has become, not just in America but pretty much everywhere else.

For those of you who have seen my other blog posts you will notice by now that I love writing about supplements, and the reason for that is simple.

Supplements are one of the hottest and fastest growing industries online that are highly under regulated, and even though there are many quality products out there, there are also fakes or scams, so hopefully I will make your job easier by showing you my process of evaluating products and websites and deciding what to go for.

supplements

CASE STUDY: Should I go for this product with many reviews online?

Lately, one of my colleagues spoke to me about this phen 375 supplement, which is a fat burner, fat blocker and appetite suppressant at the same time, so as you may have already expected my alarm bells went off.

I decided to do some further investigation into this product and the first google search for “phen 375” showed tons of reviews about the product, I went through all the results in page one and it seemed that they were showing mostly reviews of people that have used this product over and over and “actually” gotten results.

The only downside to this is that most of these reviews seemed to be quite shallow in nature and did not actually go in-depth about the product itself.

Luckily I did come across one that stood out for me, and that was: http://phen375fatburners.com/ which seemed to be very thorough and clear in its review discussing the product, it’s ingredients and experiences others have had with it.

Disclaimer: Please note that I am not affiliated in any way or the other to that website or product. This is just my unbiased opinion about this website and product.

Moreover, the person writing the review even mentioned: “what they didn’t like about phen 375” which means that they are definitely not associated with the company and so just doing an unbiased review about the product itself, in the same way that I am doing it about his or her website.

Always refer to official sources 

I know that reading others’ reviews is helpful in making a decision of whether or not to buy a supplement, or any product, and so after you are convinced that the product has enough good positive reviews and testimonials, my next tip is always refer to official sources:

The FDA is a great source when it comes to it, and even if they don’t officially regulate supplements, you can surely take on board their advice too which is certainly checked and verified for its validity.

I hope that after reading my case study, you will now be more informed in making better purchase decisions, and hopefully save yourself some time and money on the way.

My goal here was to provide you an example of how I would go about evaluating a new product, its company and review sites before I take out my credit card.

 

 

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Written on Oct, 21, 2015 by in

Starting an e-commerce business seems easy enough, right?

Well, it is not that complex, but there are rules and regulations in place any e-commerce business owner should know. This blog will help you decipher the rules, not only will newcomers learn what has to be done when selling products online, but also how to develop an e-commerce page to ensure security, compliance with regulations, and success online. Keep in mind that your particular area may have specific considerations so these are general guidelines but you always need to confirm the specifics.

Whether you are selling clothing, digital how-to products or fitness supplements like Myotein, or any of the other millions of products, these guidelines will help you develop a plan for your ecommerce venture.

1. Online payments –
When setting up an e commerce site, businesses have to set up a viable payment system; and no, cash payments on delivery isn’t what you do when setting up the system. You have to set up debit/credit card, paypal, or other online wallet system payment options for customers. The payment terms must be clearly laid out, and businesses must inform consumers of charges, fees, and potential taxes they will pay for using the payment systems.

2. Commercial email & adverts –
You can send out bulk email campaigns, but they must be accepted by customers. The same goes with other marketing and advertising you do online. Any marketing campaign you set up, including email campaigns, must be clearly stated on your site’s policy page. Further, your customer must opt-in to receive mail. You simply can’t fill their inbox with spam, and any advertising must be clearly communicated with customers prior to sending it out.

3. Online privacy policy-
Any e-commerce business must promise to protect customers’ identity and personal information. This includes promising not to sell private information, credit card information, or personal data to third party companies. All of this this must be laid out in your privacy policy, and customers should agree to the terms, and know you won’t sell their information to other parties. Privacy laws and federal laws are in place to protect consumers, so e-commerce businesses must comply with maintaining information which is private, as “private.”

4. Online taxes –
Depending on your state’s tax code, there are taxes which certain types of e-commerce companies will charge. Further, federal regulations are in place, where certain products sold online are taxable. If the store doesn’t have a “physical presence”, then often taxes don’t have to be charged. Regardless of whether you are strictly e-commerce, or e-commerce and storefront (physical location), knowing the tax laws and regulations, and informing customers what they are in your privacy policy, is something a business owner has to do. Your tax attorney can advise you of the specifics for your business.

5. Financial data –
Just as with personal and private information, rules and regulations are in place for handling customer financial data as well. Both federal and state regulations are in place, which e-commerce businesses have to comply with. Knowing the PCI DSS standard, properly informing customers of security online, and having encryption and online security set up at the highest levels, are all responsibilities you have as an e-commerce site owner. This extra complication is why many businesses choose to operate through a service like Etsy or Shopify as they will handle the payments.

No matter what product line you have to offer for sale online, these are five areas where you must be aware of rules and regulations, when setting up your online e-commerce site.

As always, you should seek a consultation with an attorney and tax accountant to discuss your specific circumstances once you have determined your business model.

 

Sources:

https://www.etsy.com/

http://proteinisolatepowderreviews.com

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Written on Sep, 28, 2015 by in

As this is my first post, I thought I’d share some of the things that we believe are very important to keep in mind before buying any product or service online.

The internet is a wonderful place when it comes to looking for products to buy, especially for those hard to find products that we can’t get at a local mall.

Shopping online provides a wide range of product offerings, sometimes at lower prices and much more convenience of getting the product delivered right to our doorstep.

Nevertheless, you have to be sensible and always do your own due diligence not only of your products but also the company you are buying from.

To make things easier to understand we decided to use a supplement company called: Crazybulk as a case study. We believe supplements are very popular and controversial products that are gaining lots of popularity in the online world nowadays. In addition, this company is what we call an “e-commerce only” business, so they don’t have a physical brick-and-mortar store, making it a perfect case study.

DISCLAIMER: In no way or the other are we looking to promote or endorse the product below, nor we are affiliated with the named company. This product was randomly chosen for case-study purposes only. 

With that in mind, here are some of the things to look out for before buying a product.

  1. The company

It is absolutely paramount for you to do a basic background check on the company. Questions you might be asking yourself are:

Q: Is this company legit?

A: You can determine this by doing a basic Google search to see if there are any reviews or what others have to say about the company. In that case you can choose to search

“Company name” + review(s)

“Company name” + scam

Is “Company name” legit?

You want to go through a few pages and read what people are saying about the company. If you keep seeing a trend where people are talking about the company being a scam or having a poor products/service then that should be a warning sign for you.

Another approach is to go through the company’s website. Make sure they have some sort of secure and encrypted payment system.

When you click on add to cart, and checkout see if the page opens up a new page and always keep an eye on the URL box to see where it is taking you to.

If you see the page takes you to a legitimate page such as: Paypal, authorize.net or 2Checkout you can be rest assured that it is a legit transactions, as most of these companies register and require official documents for opening accounts with them.

Moreover, you want to see that the website does accept various payment methods including the popular credit cards, paypal, and so on. If you see that the website is only accepting one method of payment, such as Western Union, or even only Paypal you might want to question that and see why that is the case before making a purchase.

In our case, Crazybulk you can see they have some of these signs of secure payments:

secure payments Crazybulk

 

2. The product

You want to carry out a similar background check as the one you would do with the company’s name. Searching for the product’s name + scam, is it legit and reviews.

In our research we randomly selected a product from Crazybulk called: d-bal. We then searched for its name + reviews and found a handful of sites that were reviewing the product.

In most cases we found that the product was given lots of positive reviews, and so decided to search deeper and concluded that overall the product did work and was legit.

Remember when searching for product reviews try and read a few until you find one that is unbiased. We found that http://dbalsupplement.com to be a very objective and detailed review posted by someone who had previously used the product.

3. Testimonials

Whether it’s from the site itself or from other review sites you want to find at least a few testimonials from users. Look out for ratings and also the words “verified purchase” which can guarantee that the person posting the testimonial or review did in fact buy and use the product.

Most of us look for reviews and star ratings when buying from Amazon so why not do the same when buying elsewhere.

This can actually be advantageous over buying at a physical store as you cannot just randomly pick a product and see what other customers have to say about that product. Your best bet in that case would be to ask the store’s staff but then again that would only be one person’s opinion against tens or hundreds of them you can find online.

In our case we can see that our supplement d-bal has a total of 19 reviews on its official website:

d-bal reviews

4. Returns/Money-back guarantee

This is essential when buying online. Since you cannot actually see or try the physical product many people are put off from buying online for this reason.

A legitimate company will always offer an attractive guarantee to its buyers. A guarantee can be in the form of a refund and/or a return. Always check that the company has this as well as its terms and conditions. For example, we have found that some companies offer refunds but ask the customer to pay for the return shipping fee plus a restocking fee. It is vital for you as a consumer to be aware of this before taking your credit card out.

These additional costs are not necessarily a negative thing, they are just part of the company’s policy which you are agreeing to when click on the buy now button.

In our case study company. Whenever one purchases a product from Crazybulk you have a 7 day no-risk money back guarantee.

5. Customer service and phone number

This criteria links well with the previous one. It is extremely simple to just offer a money back guarantee, but how do we trust this company will actually honor it? That’s a small risk we always take when buying online, however, 99% companies who offer these guarantees do actually honor them as they know that they can’t afford to have angry customers or negative reviews.

A simple way of verifying these is to check if the company has a valid phone number and customer service e-mail address. If you are buying a cheap item and are not too bothered about it then the previous criteria should be more than enough to make you feel confident with the purchase. But if you are talking about a high ticket item and are spending a considerable amount of money on the purchase you might want to get on the phone and call the company just to check up on them. You can just ask about the availability of the product, whether their warranty still stands and how long the item will take to arrive.

Other things to look out for is their customer service, if you email them, how responsive are they? Do they have a live chat system?

As we can see Crazybulk have a live chat with a customer service agent there to help you with any questions you might have about their products.

customer service live chat

The days when you had to call a company’s customer service and got an automated answering machine that had you waiting for half an hour are far gone. Customer service is a vital part of the business as much as Marketing and Sales is. A company with a fast, responsive and helpful customer service will be very unlikely to scam you.

We hoped you enjoyed our article and found it helpful.

For more information or if you want to report a fraudulent company you can visit the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s site. 

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