You probably asked yourself why there is such a colossal demand for online porn. And you probably had an answer: it gives a person a chance to anonymously satisfy one's dirtiest desires which are usually hidden deep inside.
Unfortunately, this very principle brings out all kinds of human vices related to doing business – much stronger online than offline.
It wouldn’t be a revelation to say that there are 2 lazy people, 5 profiteers and 10 unconcealed scammers per 1 honest online businessman. The money is real, while responsibility still remains something more virtual. As a result, you may get a serious pain in the neck – and of you do business online chances are you already know what it feels like …
In this article we will try to find out how to avoid online CMS scams. Still, these tips work for other software types and generally most online service deals.
Alas, one of the most widespread online business models is "start up – shrug off." A person builds a site which stays online for years, and a potential customer has no idea this bright and appealing site is only a facade for a half-decomposed corpse. At best for your money you will get a decrepit script that’s not been updated or not touched by the hand of the developer for ages. At worst, you are about to work like hell in order to return your hard-earned money through a chargeback procedure. And reality is that this is often not possible, even in cases of sheer swindle.
That is why the first thing to be considered is the reputation behind the site, the company and the product. The upcoming tips will deal with this.
1. What's in a name?
This is quite a banal thought, but thorough checking of the domain whois data still helps. You can do this here, for example: http://domaintools.com/whois
The first thing to be considered is the date of domain registration. The domain is fresh? Beware, you may get into the hands of people lacking practical skills and reputation. Those who did not prove to be worthy, will lose in this eternal business battle, leaving you helpless with a bulky script you just purchased.
You should also pay attention if the domain is registered just for a year. Who are we to remind you that a domain name is the needle eye through which the entire business goes through? Losing a domain name always means ruining your online business. A company which is serious about its activities, willing to stay here for a long time is unlikely to save a couple of dollars putting its online presence under risk.
A domain with a shorter registration term tells you the owner is not really sure about how things could go in the future. Then why should you be sure about this?
Then, take a look at the address and the phone number. According to the accepted norms of ICANN, false information is a reason for blocking the domain, with the owner being likely to lose it forever. A serious company will always avoid this. Anyway, fake data must bring you to ask yourself what made the owner conceal the true identity.
Checking this data is dead simple: reach for your phone or Skype and dial the number you see in the whois information. All secrets will be revealed then.
2. Following in the tracks
Now, having checked the site and the whois information, we know what this person says about himself. Time to find out what others think – and here we mean the customers!
Message boards are the place where is almost impossible to hide the truth (there are ways however – we will address them further on). To make the picture more complete, do a search on 2-3 most popular boards, for instance: gofuckyourself.com, netpond.com, boards.xbiz.com
So, we are entering the search section and typing in the CMS name or something relevant to it. Even if you thought, hey, this guy is popular here, don't be too quick with making conclusions.
Online sellers understand that message boards are a great method of getting customers. So, they let themselves go, trying to make you THINK their reputation is perfect. Too bad they don’t put that much time and effort into making their product better – in that case they would not need to be smart with publicity!
Let’s read the posts more attentively: half of the time the product gets mentioned by the seller. This is clear: whatever you see written, take it with a grain of salt.
Many messages will be posted by seemingly disinterested people, looking like "DickCMS rocks!", "I love DickCMS", "DickCMS the best" and similar garbage. This is where the trick lies. These people don't say that they really use the product, so officially they aren’t scamming anyone by promoting it. They just write what they "think" – and this is not based on any facts. Actually, these people will most certainly be the seller's friends or the seller himself (or his employees) using other user accounts and nicknames – after all, the message board software does not ask for your ID. It was Horatio who said that people start liking things which are repeated ten times.. This is an old and boring trick, but it does work in many cases. Additionally, these sellers try to badmouth their competitors, writing things like "used this but it never worked as it should." Ask this "user" for his license number or the licensed domain, and this question will remain unanswered. Be careful, sift the wheat from the tares.
Putting this rubbish aside, what do we have left? We have 3-5% of posts by real customers which are easy to spot. They are longer, contain more factual information, and people who write about real advantages or drawbacks they encountered. This is why only these opinions should be used by you when finding out about the script and the seller’s reputation!
3. Modesty is not always a guard to virtue
Let's talk about customers again. What can speak about a product's benefits better than a lengthy list of customers exuding pride and reputation? If for any reason a site does not list customers, it is a serious reason to start thinking whether they exist at all. And if they do, how happy could they be?
Another valuable indicator is the message board for product support. It at least shows you support exists at all. More importantly, it gives you an idea about the actual number of active product users, the competence and speed of the support service, the amount of existing bugs, and other script drawbacks and how the seller reacts to them.
If none of these sections exist, don't you think you are about to buy blindly?
Anyway, you could as well ask for customers in a private conversation with the seller. This is of course if you don’t want to find out what it’s like to be a lab rat.
4. Anybody home?
Establishing contact with the seller BEFORE completing the deal is crucial! If, God forbid, your request is left unanswered BEFORE they get the money from you, what do you expect after the transaction has taken place when the seller becomes utterly disinterested in your frantic messages?!
Evaluate the time it takes to get a response. Remember, if you buy the script and something goes wrong, your screams for help will be answered after this period of time at best. Find out whether you find this appropriate.
Even after you get the reply, we recommend sending at least a couple of questions - even stupid ones. Thus you will get a better picture about the politeness and competence of the seller. These are things which you will have to deal with after purchase. It's better to get at least some idea about possible sticking points.
5. Ignorant – and still responsible
Now, when you know something about the qualities and reputation of the seller, give the product itself a closer look.
Read the site attentively. It's better spending some time beforehand and get the basics then wasting money only to get trouble.
Studying the features and the peculiarities, pay attention to the way every function is implemented. Think whether this is good for you. If the site leaves you with ambiguous information, it's better to contact the seller once more than hoping things would be settled by themselves.
Still it's more important to understand what is NOT mentioned on the site. Sometimes the seller perceives something as self-evident. And then the buyer finds out things are a bit different from what he had anticipated. And if it happens after the purchase, too bad. This is something that wasn't described on the site, so the seller appears to be innocent. Don't be too shy to ask a couple of extra questions about seemingly obvious things. You have the right and need to understand everything without any ambiguities.
6. Marketing tricks
The market gets tougher, competition grows, and the sellers have to resort to all kinds of swindle more and more often. Some of these are addressed below.
Any reasonable person, making the choice between two equal products, one version 1, the other version 3, will choose the latter one. Progress between versions implies improvements, thorough work, an industrious team of developers behind the product, etc. Unfortunately, many sellers understood that if they just give their prematurely born products “version 5” or something, they won't be prosecuted and get more credulous customers instead. Alas, this does work.
Unmasking such scammers is easy: every new version should have the list of updates and improvements. Don't be too lazy to skip this crucial step. If there’s no list of version progress, then assume "version 5", is just the same as "version 1" – and close the browser window. Don’t deal with people who are trying to scam you from the very start.
"Superdiscounts". When the seller goes on telling you about his special 50% discount just for you, "only today's special offer", remember – there was a 200-300% extra markup before this "discount" happened! Everything in this world has its value and price, and people are absolutely unlikely to sell things cheaper then they really cost. Researchers (including psychopathologists) have noticed long ago that people will buy "discounted" stuff frantically, even with the fact that they are unlikely to ever need it. And they don't realize they are actually paying full price which is often inflated before the “discount”. Script sellers have learned this stunt, too, and many scammed people are even happy with their "bargains". Remember, the disreputable seller expects you to act hastily and without major thinking. Don't make a fool of yourself! Analyze actual offers on the market, and you’ll really save.
"Expensive is better". Two Russian nouveau riches meet and talk:
- Look at this tie I bought yesterday!
- How much?
- Three thousand bucks.
- You stupid fool; they sell exactly the same thing round the corner for five thousand!
This may be a funny joke, but we laugh not thinking that we sometimes we’re just the same. At least when we speak about CMS scripts, more expensive does not necessarily mean better. A script is not a status symbol like Rolls Royce. It's a tool, which helps you earn, and the only things that matter are:
a) functionality and features
c) quality of support
As a rule, the difference between these parameters with cheaper and more expensive scripts never differ that much as the prices. When buying an expensive script, remember that you pay 50 - 90% more for just the excessively promoted brand and huge advertising costs. This brand won't help you earn more, but you’ll definitely spend more!
So, analyze the real product features, the testimonials, and the support quality using the methods given above. Don't let bad people fool you.
Summing it all up
Always remember you and the CMS seller are on the different sides of the coin. The seller's only mission is to get as much money out of your pocket as possible. Watch out, and good luck!