Whenever you find yourself buying, selling, or finding a resolution online, remember these tips to save yourself time, money, and a headache.
- Educate yourself.
If you know the value of what it is you are trying to buy or sell, you are in a place where you can approximate how much you can reasonably offer/demand as payment. Coming in with an estimation close to what is the likely outcome will demonstrate both reasonableness and intelligence. When in doubt, Google it.
- Check your tone of text.
Communicating online is difficult because there is no vocal tone or facial expressions to attach to a message. People can easily misinterpret something meant in a kind way as rude because of this. Attempt to read your message from different perspectives prior to submission.
- Confirm your source.
If you buy/sell something to someone who has bad intentions, it is possible to find yourself in a bad situation—particularly because you have never met some of these people in person. Make sure to read different reviews if they are available, and when you are finished, leave your own review to help people in the future. You can provide a lot of guidance!
- Anchor your price.
Although you may find yourself wanting a fair outcome, as a buyer, start a bit lower, and as a seller, start a bit higher. You might find that 1) your price is met or 2) you receive a better deal because it is hard to move too far from an offer/demand once it is made.
- Advocate for you.
If something does go wrong, remember your outlets for a resolution. Reach out to online sources if it is a large company with a website. You can use email, social media, and instant messenger to contact. In the end, never underestimate a phone call and lots of patience. If none of these outlets work, there are methods to report sellers/buyers on websites such as Ebay & Amazon. You can report businesses to the Better Business Bureau. Find these outlets and make some noise—the “squeaky wheel” gets the most attention.
- Remember your value.
You are a consumer. Whether you are using a platform to sell something or you are buying something. Sometimes these online interactions can go poorly, but remember, companies need you. They need you to use their platforms; they need you to buy their products; they need you to “advertise” and support them, otherwise they will fail to find success. Feel empowered.
- Try multiple avenues.
Try to look for what you want from different places. There are many avenues that will price match. If you can show that the product or a comparable product is sold for a different price, then you can often negotiate. If the buyer/seller is unwilling to negotiate, they might not be the best option for you, which leads to number 8.
- When in doubt, walk away.
The willingness to walk away is often a very powerful tool. Remember that there will always be another buyer/seller and another product. However, if it is something you really want, bluff. It is okay to mislead in this instance. If you feel that something is “shady,” follow your gut and walk away. You will have more regrets spending money on a product that never comes in the mail or driving to meet a buyer that never shows up, then going with someone/something different. Sometimes it is worth spending a little bit more money or searching a little bit longer for peace of mind.
- Push back.
If someone is attempting to bully you into a price, undervalue you, or even convince of an untrue fact about a product, push back. If someone is trying to meet you somewhere you do not feel comfortable with, push back. If you are not getting the resolution you believe you truly deserve, push back. Ask for what you want. The worst that can happen is you create a sour relationship with someone you will likely never see again. Be respectful, but also, say what you want. With all the online revenues, you have lots of options on how to go about finding a resolution; push back with a variety of those and see what will happen.
- Justify your stance.
Something might hold more value for you than someone else. Feel free to justify your stance. Let someone know why you believe that this has a particular value. Support it with evidence. Online dispute resolution is an amazing avenue because often, there is an electronic record of the efforts you have taken and the words that have passed between you. Use this. Finally, remember: you are your own best advocate. Empower yourself, and you will find what you are looking for.