careful with that ecommerce
Tuesday, February 8 2005
setting: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York, USA
I'd taken my ponderous old Dlink hard-drive-based MP3 player with me to Ecuador, hoping to maybe use it to listen to music on the plane or in the boat. It actually worked okay once I had it charged up, and I managed to use it a little below deck in the Golondrina while sailing between islands in the Galapagos. But the damn thing is so poorly designed that it managed to switch on when I packed it into my luggage, and by the time I'd wanted to listen to music during the flight back into the Northern Hemisphere, its batteries were uselessly drained. For this and other reasons, I'd found myself wanting a smaller, solid-state MP3 player, one that could use Compact Flash cards as media. (I make a point of only buying portable equipment that uses Compact Flash media, since I have so many Compact Flash cards.) So I did a little research and determined that something called the NEX IA+ is best MP3 player that accepts CF cards.
The NEX IA+ isn't easy to find in this country; like many of the small devices I like it seems to serve a largely European user base. But eventually I tracked down an online retailer who claimed to have it. The site is called MP3playerstore.com/, but there was something about the garish web design and distorted "big-head, little-feet people" depicted on the pages that raised my suspicions. (Promotional "big-head, little-feet people" were characteristic of the loudest pages on the site of my former employer, CollegeClub.com, a company known now to have been nothing more than a especially transparent pyramid scheme.) So I decided to do a Google search on MP3playerstore.com to see if they are a reputable company. a search for MP3playerstore.com didn't turn up much, but a search for just MP3playerstore turned up a stack of pages at ResellerRatings.com. They were a fascinating read as one person after another vented their fury and frustration at this company. From the sound of things, it seemed MP3playerstore.com had been designed mainly as bait for fraudulently obtaining credit card numbers.
So I eventually found another merchant selling the NEX IA+, this one called Mydigitaldiscount.com. I did a search to see postings made about them in ResellerRatings.com and was pleased to see it was mostly positive, so they got my business, even though I had to pay New York sales tax (because they ship from Oswego).
The moral of this story is that you can't necessarily judge the reputability of an ecommerce concern by their website, but if it's ugly and amateurish, you should probably be suspicious. More to the point, it's always best to cross-check an unknown internet business before placing an order with them. The same technology that makes scams easy to pull also provides the means to expose a history of funny business.
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