Consumers are ripped off every day and it’s because we are too trusting, too gullible or just don’t think. It’s easy to have something bad like this happen. So, let’s make it more difficult. Protection starts by educating yourself.
Say you want to self-publish your writing. You might do an internet search. Think about it a minute. The company’s website is going to be filled with glowing praise and high recommendations. The company paid for the website so it’s natural you will only find positives, but don’t fall for them. Do a search for the company name and add words like complaints, problems, scam, rip off or other words that would lead you to the truth. Don’t let a company name fool you either. I knew someone who was ready to send her book to a self-publishing company that had the word “Christian” in its name. I did a search for complaints and found it is not a reputable company and steered her away from using them.
A company might say that they will publish, advertise, and promote your book, but they may not tell you (unless you ask), how much each service costs. The company would prefer that you believe the cost is all inclusive, until you sign the contract. Then you find out that each step costs a hefty sum. Another trick I’ve seen with such publishers is that after the book is submitted — no matter how well it was written — the company sees a need for it to be edited, and of course that costs money. In no time at all your book has racked up a fee upwards of $5,000. Sure, your book is important to you and it’s dear to your heart. But you need to use your head before you sign on the dotted line.
Put any company or product name/model number in quotation marks as you enter it into the search engine. That will keep many similarly named companies from popping up and muddying your search. Instead of using Google, use DuckDuckGo, a search engine does not track your search and you will not receive ads that you did not request.
Before you order from a new-to-you mail order company, check their complaints, especially customer service. You might even try calling their number. If they are open limited hours and you can never talk to a live person, you might want to reconsider buying from the company. What is the return policy? Do you have to pay for shipping both ways? The companies with the best customer service seem to also be the ones with quality merchandise.
Tread carefully if you are tempted to order through Facebook posts. I saw a post for a CCC T-shirt last week. At first glance it seemed legit. Then I clicked on the poster’s name and noticed the date of joining FB was the day before and there no “friends” listed. Those things told me the ad was a scam and if I ordered, I’d never see the shirt and my money would be gone.
Buyer beware continues to be the watchword. Think before you buy.