Advice: How To Stay Safe And Avoid Scams On Group Buying Sites

February 8, 2011 at 10:00 am Advice

The following is another great post by Fitz Villafuerte of Ready To Be Rich.

Group buying sites have existed in other countries for quite some time now but it’s only recently that the business model started to grow and get attention in the Philippines, particularly in Metro Manila.

In fact, my list of Philippine Group Buying Sites has grown from twelve to twenty-four websites in just a few weeks.

That’s why it’s now important to be cautious and critical of which deals you avail.

And to help you stay safe and secure, here are some tips and advise on how you can avoid getting scammed by fake group buying sites.

GROUP BUYING SAFETY TIPS:

There should be no cost to become a member.
Group buying websites earn from their business partners and not directly from the consumers. Avoid sites which ask for a membership fee.

Do your due diligence.
Before signing up for a site, ask your friends and social networks for feedback about the site. Check their business address and see if that place actually exists. Moreover, take some time to read and understand their FAQ Page, Site Terms, Privacy Policies and others.

Investigate on Facebook
“Hang out” on their Facebook Page and check out the profiles of the people who regularly leave comments. Note that some of these businesses use “fake profiles” to boost their image, so make sure that those recommendations are coming from actual people. If they’re not on Facebook, then just do the next step.

Test their customer service
Go to their website and call their contact numbers, follow their Twitter accounts or send an email and ask questions like how group buying works, their payment options, refunds and others. Be an “innocent” consumer and see if they are polite, helpful and timely with their responses. They may be operating legally, but you don’t want to deal with poor customer service.

For Pinoys: Below is the stream of the official Twitter accounts of Philippine Group Buying Sites. Try to ask questions and see if their customer service is good. The Twitter list is HERE.

Note: If you’re an administrator of a group buying site and you would like to include your official Twitter account in the stream, then just leave a comment below and I’ll take care of it.

Check if the group buying site has been VERIFIED by me (for Pinoys only).
In my list of group buying websites, I’ve included a status on each of the sites telling you if it’s been personally verified and is currently active. There’s also an ongoing poll where you’ll see which group buying sites are the favorites of my readers here. icon biggrin Group Buying Sites: How To Be Safe and Avoid Scams

The site should not ask for any financial details when registering.
You only enter billing information or payment terms when you actually bought something. If you need to give your credit card number or bank details when signing up. Click “Cancel” and leave.

Before buying a deal, check the business first.
When you see a deal that you like, call the business first and ask if they really have a partnership with the group buying website. Ask for the specific details of the coupon so you know exactly what you’re buying. Buy deals only from businesses that you actually know or you might end up using that P100 buffet coupon in a carinderia.

When buying something, choose your payment option wisely.
I personally recommend Paypal if it’s available because it’s secure and has a refund option. While it can be inconvenient, bank deposits, using money transfer facilities and electronic payments such as GCash and Smart Money are also considered safe because there’s no risk of getting charged extraneously unlike in credit cards.

But if you’re paying through your credit card…
Then use your virtual credit card intended for internet shopping (because it can’t be used to buy anything offline) and then inform your credit card company about the purchase. Tell them to allow the purchase amount from the merchant and nothing else to be really safe or give them a list of the deals you’re expecting.

Note all the details of the deal you just bought.
Make sure you keep all the details of the transaction, specially the due dates, what to do and bring when claiming your coupon, the validity dates of the deal and other important terms in the purchase agreement.

Last TIP:
Group buying sites are a great way to save money on “luxuries”. So it’s important that you always have a clear view of your personal finances. If you’re on a tight personal budget, then you should just prioritize your necessities.

Did I miss anything here? Do you have any additional tip you want to share? Please leave them in the comments section below and if it’s really something useful, I’ll edit this post, include it in the list and give you credit for it! icon biggrin Group Buying Sites: How To Be Safe and Avoid Scams

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Originally posted here.

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