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Old 23-02-2015, 16:17   #1
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Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

I made the following post/rant on anther topic, but the more I got into it, the more I thought that it would be useful information in a stand alone thread.
Some may not give a rats rear end, but seeing the inside of how the sausage is made, can really be disgusting so I figured I'd share a little bit.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JayCall View Post
More than a few online sellers are just "order takers" who then have the item drop-shipped from a distributor or the manufacturer. .
Actually more than 90% of the online retailers operate this way.
Even when/if they say the item is "In stock", they really mean it is in stock at their Drop Ship Supplier, not with them. I call that a lie...they call it sales marketing I guess.

Anyone with a website and web connection can be an "online store" these days and the manufacturers actually want and support this business model because the more places they can have their products listed online, then the higher up the Google rankings their products can be in an internet search. It's just a game of market saturation. If you have your product in 50 online stores and your competitor only has 35...well you will pop up higher in the Google rankings as being more "relevant" and make more sales.

There is a company that shall remain nameless out of Ontario Canada that has a button on their website. You follow the link and Sha-Zam...you see they have dealers all around the world and a manufacturing facility in Buffalo, NY....well maybe. They set up what's known as "ghost dealers" all around the Country and world but the phone numbers and email contact addresses go back to the main company. They don't have offices in all the places they show on their "Dealer Map", but it looks good to have sales offices around the Country and world right? But this tricks people in those areas into thinking: "hey, these guys are local and they say it's in stock". What they list as "dealers" are actually just clients, and friends, (or even made up addresses) that they promised a % of the sale if they would let them use their local contact information and address. It's the big scam going on right now in online retail to improve you online image.

Folks...I get calls and emails literally 3-4 times a week from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) companies that for the low low price of $500/mo will set me up with a Ghost Dealer Network in all 50 States, Internationally, or they will hit target areas. They promise increased sales, better Google search rankings and they will manage it all for me. Depending on how busy I am at the moment....I usually string them along just enough to see what they are up to...and it's damn near criminal some of the sleazy **** these folks are doing these days. They will write fake Blogs, fake customer reviews, and post under fake accounts on chat rooms and blog comments about your products with links back to your site. It's out of Control in many ways, what's going on in the online "marketing" (I call it deception) market.

When you search Google, you assume the reason the companies pop up near the top is because...well they just naturally do based on their content or in how many other people searched for them and went to their site. Ha ha ha .... bullshit. They pop up because the companies are playing the system and paying a Google affiliate marketing company money to make them pop up! We buy google ad clicks ourselves but the Ads are labled as ADS....so everyone should know...but people wrongly assume that the "Organic Search" is clean and innocent...ha ha ha....not.

It's really still is a bit of the Wild West when it comes to buying from online vendors you have never heard of online, so be VARY careful when just buying from the cheapest price that pops up online. Do a Google search for the company name and review...this can save you lots of headaches down the road!

This isn't new and many of you guys may already know all of this, but folks not in the "selling things industry" may not know just now much gaming of the system is going on these days on the internet.

Ok...rant over...but seeing this sleazy world from the inside makes me want to puke at times...so I needed to vent!
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Old 23-02-2015, 16:22   #2
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Re: Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

How do you know they are in Ontario? This was a Chinese trick at one time, maybe still is. I could set up a website and say I am anywhere in the world. All I need is a Domain Name.
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Old 23-02-2015, 16:28   #3
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Re: Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

....it's like the Matrix....how do you know what's real?
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Old 23-02-2015, 16:37   #4
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Re: Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

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....it's like the Matrix....how do you know what's real?
The red pill.

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Old 23-02-2015, 16:38   #5
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Re: Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

I certainly appreciate you pulling back the curtain on this Rich. So, as someone who's been up the river and seen the horror, what do you suggest we do? How do us mere consumer/mortals proceed? What do we do when we're sourcing our cruising doodads?
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Old 23-02-2015, 16:46   #6
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Re: Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

Quote:
I usually string them along just enough to see what they are up to...and it's damn near criminal some of the sleazy **** these folks are doing these days. They will write fake Blogs, fake customer reviews, and post under fake accounts on chat rooms and blog comments about your products with links back to your site. It's out of Control in many ways, what's going on in the online "marketing" (I call it deception) market.
Not a lawyer but I would say it is criminal. Fraud...
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Old 23-02-2015, 16:54   #7
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Re: Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

Just as the consumer can get screwed online....he also has the ultimate power. but you have to use it to benefit from it. Search for the Company name, review, etc because these days if you screw a customer on Monday, it is online somewhere on Tuesday...BUT you can't stop there. Because I could also PAY for online marketers to actually write negative reviews on my competitors...no ****...and they could pay those same bastards to write negative reviews about me! I'm not joking here, I get these solicitation emails weekly. Having your email address online on your website, generates all kind of sleazy marketing gimmicks. So you can't take one good or bad review on face value, you have gotta dig deeper to get to the truth.

The more reviews and info from "real people" that have a history of being real online helps vet out the scammers and fake reviews also. It's also important to pick up the phone and CALL. Send an email asking a question. Do they reply right away or take 4 days to get back to you?
Scammers NEVER want to put things in writing, they want you to call them where they can work their magic in smooth talk with no written record!
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Old 23-02-2015, 17:01   #8
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Re: Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

I don't get it.

"Pick up the phone and call" so they can smooth talk me?

Is Amazon my friend still?
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Old 23-02-2015, 17:39   #9
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Re: Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

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I don't get it.

"Pick up the phone and call" so they can smooth talk me?

Is Amazon my friend still?
Comanies like ebay and Amazon are different than buying from an individual company because they are acting as a middleman who will smack down a scam seller and does offer the buyer some added protection.
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Old 23-02-2015, 21:49   #10
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Re: Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

Thanks, Rich, for starting an informative thread!

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Old 23-02-2015, 21:54   #11
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Re: Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

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Not a lawyer but I would say it is criminal. Fraud...
I certainly think it is...but how you gonna sue or arrest someone overseas with a fake or hidden IP address that's doing this? With all the "real" internet crimes like Identity fraud and child porn, heck....fake blogs, review and product placement almost seems like Boy Scouts stuff! Maybe I was naive, but I had no real idea of all the scam games that went on behind the scenes of the all knowing internet, which is why I thought my rant/info would at least help a bit.

I wrote a blog post about it that was actually published in Practical Sailor Magazine a few years back: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/svth...xjMsgID=216400
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Old 23-02-2015, 22:06   #12
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Re: Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

That is where a forum like this becomes invaluable. Do a search on the forums, and you'll see all kinds of discussions about everything you've ever (or hadn't) thought of. People are willing to share their experiences good or bad with the product, customer support, etc.

While it's human nature to spread the word about a bad experience, it's just as important to throw out a good word for excellent goods and services as well!!

I've seen more than a few threads like this where a vendor has gone out of his way to help people in general - not selling his product, just helping fellow boaters out who have a question. I've even seen them recommend a competing product that better suits the person's needs, and this sort of honesty and helpfulness goes a long ways with me, I'm sure it's made an impression on others as well. It's called goodwill, and you can't really buy it with any amount of advertising.
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Old 23-02-2015, 22:07   #13
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Re: Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

I know what you mean. I've sometimes found a product at a particular price on the internet, but when I looked at alternative sources, they all seemed linked to the same supplier, for about the same price. Sometimes the different web sites look alike. "Faux" competition.

The other alternative is to deal with people who you have a relationship with, or who you trust because of either their size or proximity. Some "matchmaker" sites like Ebay have a fairly good system for dealing with strangers that works most of the time. It's unlikely that someone with lots of good ratings over a long period is going to screw up their reputation on one transaction.

If you go after a deal that's too cheap to be true on the internet? Well, it might just be too cheap to be true.
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Old 23-02-2015, 22:11   #14
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Re: Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

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Comanies like ebay and Amazon are different than buying from an individual company because they are acting as a middleman who will smack down a scam seller and does offer the buyer some added protection.
The Sears Marketplace version does not offer any protection. Everyone treated me like I was crazy for expecting 2 2packs to have a total of 4 items. I ended up getting my credit card company involved. In the end, it turned out well for me, because I only wanted half my money back and I got it all.
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Old 24-02-2015, 06:35   #15
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Re: Marine Online Vendors: Buyer Beware and Google Isn't Your Friend

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So you can't take one good or bad review on face value, you have gotta dig deeper to get to the truth.
I would say that the main thing is, you have to be able to exercise some judgment. Once you've read enough product reviews, it is usually pretty easy to spot the fake ones. Every product out there will have some positive reviews, and some negative reviews. You have to be willing to work your brain a bit to separate the chaff from the wheat.

Sadly, there are a whole lot of folks these days who either cannot do that, or do not want to. They want someone else to do the thinking for them, and then just tell them what to do. They want to be spoon-fed "the truth." These people are what con-men and scam artists call "pigeons."
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