Transparency in Online Transactions

In these days of every increasing demand and competition, there is a considerable choice available to the cautious consumer. People have the choice of various types of media, if they are looking to shop for any particular product.

Looking at the various types of media, we realise just how large the choices are for anyone venturing into buying or selling something. At the same time, there is the factor of convenience. It wasn't so long ago, when the customer either went to the shops, to buy, or looked in the local or national press, to browse through the classified and commercial advertisements.

Then came along the advent of radio and television, which provided a whole new concept in advertising. You could now sit comfortably at home, and listen to, or indeed see, advertisements for your favourite products. But this didn't provide a huge market in private individual advertising, due to the costs involved, although some local radio stations were able to provide so called 'small ads'.

It has been customary in the past, for someone wishing to sell a product, to advertise it in the local and national press. This continues today, as one only has to browse through the papers, and see thousands of adverts from private individuals.

In recent times, we have seen the evolution of the computer, as an additional source of advertising, and more and more people are turning to this method, as essentially it is one of the most convenient methods of placing an advert. It is also very easy for buyers to browse through the ads, or more specifically, type a word or phrase into a search engine, and save time in being directed straight to the object they are searching for.

But let's not be complacent about online advertising, either from the buyers or the seller's point of view. Those of us who run online shopping websites are responsible in ensuring that our customers get a clear and concise picture of exactly what they are entering into, when they open a webpage. It is our duty to provide people with the facts, particularly if they are entering into any online financial commitment. How often do you see the 'added extras' tucked away, after completing the initial registration details, or see an additional credit card fee charged? How often do you see an initial price, only to be weighted down with hidden extras? It is imperative in this day of high technology that the end user, that is, the customer, is provided with the full facts of a transaction, at the very beginning.

Starting off with a low or 'bargain' price is all well and good, if that price is the final price, but far too often we see the final price creep up with additional fees, charges, add ons, call it what you may. The responsibility lies with the vendor, to ensure that the price has no 'furry' edges, and is transparent. If there are taxes in addition to the price, we as vendors, should state so, from the very off. If there is postage and packaging, extra costs for additional services, or anything else, it needs to be stated at the beginning.

Keeping standards extremely high and not taking advantage of the speed in which online transactions pass from one page to the next, to reach the final destination, is an objective that many online businesses have adopted. Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go, for many. Let's hope we will all, one day, maintain the standards that the general public deserve.

Paul Bryant is the Chairman of Wamee Ltd, a UK Online portal, for people to buy and sell almost anything. The website address is http://www.wamee.com. Wamee maintains a policy of transparency and clarity in every aspect.

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