When it comes to dealing with on-line retailers, you need to take precautions. That's according to the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland. The organization is pointing to NPODZ.Com, which sells tee-shirts on line. "Consumers allege they're making purchases of tee-shirts, and those tee-shirts are not being received," says Jody Thomas, Vice President of Communications for the BBB of Greater Maryland. "They may get a confirmation e-mail from the company, but the bottom line is they're not receiving the merchandise and they're not getting credit."
Thomas says the BBB has received 47 complaints about NPODZ.Com from all across the country, including one from a woman in Dundalk, Maryland.
When dealing with on-line retailers, Thomas says do some research on the company, which includes owner information, and any complaint history. Also, check to see if the e-retailer has a physical address, and that does not include just a post office box. And make sure that address is legitimate. "We so many times here at BBB get complaints from consumers where they say they've done business on line with a company located in our service area. We actually will check out the location and find it's a UPS box, or a commercial building with no tenant by that name."
BBB also says use only secure websites with the "https," not "http." Along with that, use a credit card to pay for any purchases. Later on, you can dispute that charge if there's a problem. BBB says that protection is not available with debit cards.
Thomas says beware of phony websites which look like one for a legitimate business. She says these sites are usually scams designed to steal your credit card or other information.
But Thomas says the most important part of this process is to do your homework before you hand over your credit card or check. "There's just no easy way around it. You've got to do your research. It's so much easier before you make that credit card payment or before you send that check," she says. One place to start is www.bbb.org.