The tale of two buyers

A healthy doze of caution is necessary whenever money changes hands, and buyers will do well to heed the bidorbuy Buying Safety Tips

Imagine the scene. A bidorbuy buyer, happy to have won a bid, is eager to finalise the transaction. He is at his computer processing the payment. He had already entered the seller’s details. His index finger is hovering above the “confirm payment” button.

At that moment exactly, his cell phone rings. The man hesitates for a moment. To answer the phone, or to let it ring while he clicks on the button?

For a split second, his imminent peace of mind hangs in balance. Then, prompted by an acquired habit, he glances at the cell phone screen and recognises the caller’s number. It is bidorbuy. He removes his finger and answers the phone.

This Friday 31 October was a lucky day for this particular buyer. Had he clicked on the “confirm payment” button”, he would have been in for more horrors this Halloween than he bargained for.

As it happened, the man did answer his phone and he did follow the advice not to proceed with the payment. Thus, he not only saved R2500 – which was the value of the transaction – but also avoided a lot of headache.

And how did the bidorbuy customer service lady who called him chance to look into this particular deal, one of hundreds that are concluded on the site every day?

Well, a purely technical enquiry led her to peek into the seller’s account – and immediately the alarm bells started ringing. All the warning signs were there: (1) the seller was brand-new, without any previous history; (2) he was not a verified bidorbuy seller; (3) he sold only costly items; and (4) he had listed all the items for one day only.

The conversation with the almost-ill-fated buyer only confirmed her suspicions. The buyer had tried to contact the seller by phone. The seller did not answer the calls. But he did SMS his bank details. With all that evidence laid before her, her verdict was firm: not to proceed.

Now for the tale of the second buyer from the title.

A high-circulation daily recently ran a story of a man who got scammed to the tune of R5500 after responding to a “for sale” offer listed on a big classifieds online site. Truth to tell, it was a relief that it had happened somewhere else “online”, and not on bidorbuy. However, in all fairness, we can not now go and say: “see what happens….” Because we know that scams can happen and do happen on bidorbuy too. The daily in question probably had an instance or two of scams resulting from ads in their own classifieds section.

Having all that in mind, we can be quietly content, but not at all gleeful because this time our story happens to be the one with the happy ending.

This entry is not (only) self-congratulatory. Its purport is to point out, once again, that people who transact with other people, online as well as offline, need to keep their eyes open.  In the case of buying on bidorbuy, that means: (1) checking the seller’s history and ratings; (2) giving preference to verified sellers; (3) communicating with the seller.

A little bit more about point number (3): it really is a good idea to talk to a seller who may be lacking in the points (1) and (2). While the scammers are not likely to have qualms about cheating you after talking with you, you might be able to pick up something shifty in the tone of the voice. If you do, give bidorbuy customer service a call, even if you  imagine that you are being paranoid.

Of course, it also helps to have a bit of luck, like the bidorbuy buyer in this story.