Opinion: Online sellers are breeding dishonesty

Online shopping

THE internet has created several new species over the years.

There’s the Airbnb-er, which couldn’t exist before the worldwide web because it had nowhere to roost. And then you have your dull-as-each-other co-dwellers who never would have got together were it not for, ahem, dating sites. (And, apparently, DTF does NOT stand for Deferred Till Friday.)

Dickheads with an opinion have always been a reality, but the internet has spawned a race of Super Trolls and bred them with the Keyboard Warrior for a more unpleasant hybrid than the first Prius. Most of those species I can avoid (largely by never going near a dating site or online forum), but there’s one new species that I can’t seem to shake.

I speak of the Online Seller; a critter who comes in all shapes and sizes, but one who seems possessed of a common denominator of giving me the irrits. It’s not that I’m a rabid consumer. My version of shopping best-practice involves working out what I want, discovering where it’s sold and then visiting that location for a simple, quick hostage exchange.

I give them the money. They give me the stuff. Nobody gets hurt. But online shopping? Vastly more likely to end in tears, I’m afraid. Now, you would think an online store or hub would have a vague idea of how to conduct itself within the confines of Australian consumer law. Apparently not.

eBay-sale.jpgMy most recent dealings with a takeaway food site involved them charging my card even though the actual pizza shop was shut that day. Wouldn’t have happened in the old days, because there’d have been nobody at the shop to take my takeaway order.

So, I emailed the website and politely – no, really – gave them 12 hours to have the money back in my account or I’d be having a chat with the ACCC. Took them six hours. Mind you, I still didn’t get my pizza. Why didn’t I just ring the pizza joint direct? Because, thanks to its affiliation with this particular web-hub, it doesn’t advertise its phone number.

You either deal through the hub or, short of visiting in person and having to pick your way through the sleeping druggies in the doorway, not at all. The other type of online seller is the home-tattooed flanno-hanger selling his car through a website. Here are a few tips for this, kids. Don’t tell porkies in the ad.

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If the thing is a bald-tyred, defected shitter (which is why you’re selling it) don’t advertise it as an ace-condition, low-kay, 10-outa-10, minter. ’Cos it won’t take me more than a few seconds in your driveway to rumble you. And then I’ll be sad and unhappy that I’ve driven for an hour to look at it and you.

Seems to me that ‘online sale’ equals a licence to bullshit. But a dunger car is, if you know what you’re looking for, hard to cover up. Bogans, for instance rarely, if ever, manage to scrape off all the dead Yokohama from the rear wheel arches. Bundy Rum stickers always seem to leave a shadow after they’ve been removed and a welded-up diff does not equal ‘grandpa spec’.

“Tell you what,” said the last dickhead trying to sell me a (barely) rolling tribute to skipped maintenance, “I’ll throw in a couple of DVD players if you give me cash”. “Nah, mate, I reckon they’d fall through the rust holes in the floor before I got home.” “Ah well,” he says, “never hurts to ask”. Turns out he was wrong. 

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