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Ecommerce Sites With No Contact Details
Are they afraid of customer contact?
engine




msg:3912710
 5:00 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Are ecommerce sites hiding behind a veil of invisible virtuality?

I came across several well-ranked sites with the product I sought, but, not a mention of contact details. Or there were incomplete or inacurate contact details on others.

There's always the chance they were scammers after credit card details, of course.

My impression was that several were genuine online etailers. The whois seemed good, and the site's history seemed good, too. But, of course, many people don't have any knowledge of such tools, and why should they need to to!

Are they afraid of customer contact? Why hide behind the virtual anonymity?

I really cannot think of any genuine reasons to hide their contacts details.

I can think of a few why they might want to hide their details:-

  • Scammers.
  • Their service is bad and they don't want you to chase them up.
  • They feel a home address would put people off buying.

    These days, I just won't make online purchases from ecommerce sites obfuscating their contact details.
    Don't be afraid, become customer-friendly!

  •  

    arieng




    msg:3912724
     5:23 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I think all three of those are plausible motives.

    I can think of one other reason that I've come across personally. A company that is having considerable success in a particular market might spin off one or more copycat companies to attack different price points or to increase share of the SERPs.

    Its remarkably cheap to set up a new "company" on the internet, but not so much in the B&M world. Setting up a fake address is too expensive. Using the same address, or even one in the same city, might tip off the competition (or even the savvy consumer). So, they just make it really hard to get any address information at all.

    MrHard




    msg:3912793
     6:21 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

    They can't afford to staff the phone or storefront all day, or it's not worth it to do so.

    The easy orders come through online. Hiring someone to staff the phone all day or sit in a showroom is very expensive for those few orders that come through this way. Most are inquiries or looky-loos.

    You say they will be repeat buyers if they do buy, tell their friends etc. but it's speculation and focusing on the ones that do. There are just as many that don't return.

    [edited by: MrHard at 6:37 pm (utc) on May 13, 2009]

    lorax




    msg:3912809
     6:50 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

    >> I really cannot think of any genuine reasons to hide their contacts details.

    They don't want to be bothered.

    LifeinAsia




    msg:3912810
     6:52 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

    As MrHard says. In our business, people who call tend to waste a lot of our time and often end up not purchasing anyway. The revenues from any sales that might be lost by not having an easy to find phone number do not make up for the costs involved in paying someone to man the phone 24 hours/day (or even normal business hours).
    Other possibilities:
    * No actual office (running out of home or a virtual office). Many reasons for not wanting to show home address in this case:
    - HOA/local zoning prohibits running a business from home, so want to try as much as possible to stay under the radar
    - many people have negative impressions about home-based businesses
    - want to keep disgruntled customers and home separated
    * Have an office, but don't want people coming to the office.

    Marcia




    msg:3912823
     7:01 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

    It could be a home based business with privacy and security as a concern, especially if there are children in the home. Or maybe a white label site that's actually fulfilling orders with drop-shipping.

    Lightguy1




    msg:3912861
     7:29 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

    One of my competitors has no contact info. I once say him at a show and asked him why and he said 'That way no one can contact me and no one can return anything."

    That was his approach, he would ignore emails that needed to be ignored and respond to one he wanted to respond to.

    I find that people who run operations out of their home tend to do this

    bwnbwn




    msg:3912877
     7:39 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Your nuts to buy off a site that you can't contact or get an address on.
    Owners could be in any country in the world and chances are they are scammers.
    I ran a business out of my home and didn't hide my info I guess because I was a legit business.

    also a quick add running a business out of your home then opens the door to attach all your personal properity to a lawsuit doesn't matter if it is an LLC Inc or anything else.

    card_demon




    msg:3912985
     9:42 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

    # Their service is bad and they don't want you to chase them up.

    Well what amazes me is high volume low cost payment providers like SWREG.org who do not have any customer service phone numbers.

    They have improved a lot but for a public company still it is a mistake and a way to get your chargebacks up not to give a service phone number.

    Sure get the customer to go through one hoop, but not more than that before they see a phone number.

    Otherwise they will decide it's easier to call up theyr bank and negotiate the customer service menu there to get a chargeback -- than open a support ticket or email to you.

    LifeinAsia




    msg:3912994
     9:52 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Your nuts to buy off a site that you can't contact or get an address on.

    Definitely lots of nuts in the world- Amazon and Google are raking in the bucks.

    card_demon




    msg:3913001
     10:03 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Definitely lots of nuts in the world- Amazon and Google are raking in the bucks.

    True enough but they have the advantage of people mostly not wanting to chargeback because then they have in their mind never being able to buy from Amazon again.. which makes people think twice.

    This is not something that goes through the mind of people buying from a payment processing site though. Not even Paypal..

    bwnbwn




    msg:3913043
     11:17 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Actually LifeinAsia it is very easy to get a phone number and address for Amazon or Google but then again they are Branded and there isn't the possibility they can scam ya. Not so with small websites that the whois info is hidden and nothing to search but the domain name.

    LifeinAsia




    msg:3913055
     11:36 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Well, I would say that Joe Consumer probably doesn't know about whois. Besides, I believe the topic was discussing contact information directly on the site. (If I am wrong, then I apologize and retract my previous comments.)

    Marcia




    msg:3913063
     11:54 pm on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

    There are toll-free 800 numbers available that are message only (with personalized message) and they either forward direct to the real phone or can be retrieved by the site owner. I've called customer service numbers and got a live person during business hours but a voicemail outside of business hours.

    There's no reason not to have that if phone hours can be established, except that affiliates might balk; but the answer to that is to have phone tracking.

    HRoth




    msg:3913108
     1:00 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Just the other day I ran across a business that was using my company name in their AdWords ad, and when I went to contact them, I found they had no contact info whatsoever on their site, just an online form to fill in. I looked them up in Whois, and of course their info was "private." The stuff they were selling made me think that perhaps they were afraid of some legal consequences; it is a gray area. However, I suspected a bit of just plain skeeviness as well.

    I personally always look before I buy anything that there is contact info on the site. As for Amazon and Google, their corporate addresses are public. Not so with these online "businesses" that have no contact info and block their whois info.

    I do not believe that people need to hide info on whos for security reasons because they have a home biz. If they want, they can use a PO box. I have used my real home address in whois and on my site for years, no evil eye.

    BeeDeeDubbleU




    msg:3913280
     7:21 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I would not normally deal with a business that did not offer contact information. On the one occasion that I did so recently it all went pear shaped. This reinforces my belief that we should not do it with smaller companies.

    Alternative Future




    msg:3913289
     7:33 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I run quite a successful travel website from home, I sold my home beginning of last year and at that time the market wasn’t the greatest for buying. At the moment I stay in rented accommodation which could be seen as noticeable if you knew the area and city I stay in, therefore I have no contact details on my website and I can't say this has affected me much - I suppose at the end of the day the business relationship is between my site visitors and the accommodation providers I am only the middle man.
    My question would you use a travel website with no contact details even if the direct relationship is between you and the accommodation provider?

    -Gs

    janharders




    msg:3913292
     7:39 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

    True enough but they have the advantage of people mostly not wanting to chargeback because then they have in their mind never being able to buy from Amazon again.. which makes people think twice.

    Just out of curiosity: I understand chargeback is just "get my money back" from the credit card company, right? Can't they simply send the stuff back to amazon and get a refund? That's how it's working in germany, allthough most stuff works without credit cards (you cannot cause too much trouble over here by knowing someones bank account, different system).

    On topic: In germany, you're required to have a full contact address, a person who's responsible, phone and email and/or fax. Since I'm used to that, I probably wouldn't buy from someone I cannot get ahold of without help from credit card companies.

    piatkow




    msg:3913310
     8:18 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Laws vary by country regarding disclosure of contact details. My legal knowledge comes from a pre internet finance qualification and I know UK law has changed regarding sole traders since then. Limited liability companies (no ltd / plc distinction then) were (and I hope still are) required to give an address where legal documents could be served. This did not need to be a trading location and for small companies it was usually their accountant or lawyer.

    If I don't see an address then I don't buy.

    BeeDeeDubbleU




    msg:3913323
     8:44 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

    My question would you use a travel website with no contact details even if the direct relationship is between you and the accommodation provider?

    On a travel website - categorically no.

    Regarding disclosure requirements, see [webmasterworld.com...]

    jecasc




    msg:3913566
     2:35 pm on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I never buy from websites I do not have the contact info. After all I need to know who to sue if something goes wrong with an order.

    This might not be much of a concern in the US, where credit cards dominate online payment and buyers can simply issue a chargeback. But where I live and in many other European countries bank-transfer is the dominant payment option for purchases in the internet. And since you can't simply reverse those, you need to know with whom you are dealing.

    But even if I pay with credit card - which I seldom do - I want to know the company I trust with my credit card details.

    rocknbil




    msg:3913590
     3:17 pm on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Echoing most of the sentiments in this thread:

    - Don't want to be bothered with phone calls
    - Don't want to let them know I work out of my garage
    - Paranoia works both sides of the fence, don't want some nutjob turning up at my door

    I think overall it essentially comes from greed and selfishness: I want to make money on the Internet but don't want to commit myself in such a way that I can be held accountable. These are also the same companies who try to host on free services and get any work done with free software and lowball providers.

    In any case they don't understand the value of building user trust.

    Mr Bo Jangles




    msg:3913704
     5:10 pm on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I'll tell you my reason - and in 10 years I've still got no solution.
    It's because we are not in the US, but we sell a product and 99% of our purchasers are in the US, and they assume we are. We have proved time and again that Americans like purchasing from US companies, and as soon as they realise we're not US, mostly the sale fails. We are in Australia.
    The ONLY solution for us we believe would be to establish agent/s on US soil that will answer the phone with a US accent!

    bwnbwn




    msg:3913847
     7:38 pm on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

    Mr Bo jangles my apologizes
    Owners could be in any country in the world and chances are they are scammers.
    My statment may have been a little harsh and I retract it. I should have said there was a possibility they could be scammers enough so I won't purchase from one.

    I wonder how they are finding out this
    as soon as they realise we're not US, mostly the sale fails.

    I have purchased from other countries to me that really isn't an issue.

    I wonder if your company would put up "Been in business for 10 years selling all over the world ect and some customer comments from different countries if this would have a more soothing effect on the customer on your contact page. From your post it seems the information is available but hidden and or very hard to find.

    I am sure you have some type of shipping time deliveries so that could be an issue if you don't have the estimated time, but being in the business 10 years I feel this isn't an issue and your delivers are delivered in such a time you get repeat business.

    Use your companies age as a plus and the fact you survived because your a solid business to purchase from and test this for a period of time to see if the sales do take a tank. Put your contact info were it is easy to find and a 800 number to call. You can always hire a US answering service to take calls and route them to you.

    Mr Bo Jangles




    msg:3914076
     2:22 am on May 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

    The problem for us, and why there is no apparent solution except having a US agent is that we sell a software product - a good one! and have been doing so for 10 years.
    It needs little support, and we offer virtually 24/7 support by e-mail anyway. And we have a good web site.
    The problem arises when a *prospective* customer wants to 'talk to a human' about some technical issues before they purchase - we resist because as soon as they hear the Aussie 'twang' - virtually instantly the sale is lost - you Yanks boys, like purchasing from Yank companies *_*

    As you can assume, we have a well honed response e-mail by now! We state that we prefer to answer all pre-sales queries by e-mail because it allows us to direct your question to the right person blah, blah, and in 90% of cases that is sufficient, and they put their questions in an e-mail, but a few are persistent about this talking to a human.

    ssgumby




    msg:3914383
     2:26 pm on May 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

    We run a very successful site with no address info. We boldly show our 800 number and email and promptly respond to inquiries but the address causes issues.

    We have our warehouse on our property behind our home. We have a legit permit to run the business out of our warehouse but since it is residential we are not allowed to have a "store front" due to the lack of proper traffic signals and parking. In addition, we would be required to have additional insurance to cover customer liability claims if they hurt themselves on our property.

    When we had our address on our site, we would have customers just show up. This became an issue due to the reasons stated above so we removed the address. We have seen no decline in sales since doing so and in fact are still seeing excellent growth.

    ssgumby




    msg:3914384
     2:28 pm on May 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I should add, for returns we have "call for RMA" and when they call or email we then give them the address.

    BeeDeeDubbleU




    msg:3914461
     3:53 pm on May 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

    I suppose there are ways that you can convince people that you are pukka without displaying address details. On the contact page a convincing excuse for not doing so coupled with an offer to email full contact details may fit the bill.

    dpd1




    msg:3914859
     6:06 am on May 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

    We're a very small biz and we make most of our products, which is extremely time consuming. The products are part of a technical field and many people often have many questions. If I was to put contact info out, I would never get anything done. There are people who just want to ask question after question endlessly. If I didn't call them back, then I'd be accused of ignoring them. I answer all questions through email and I'm very good about that. But it gives me a chance to do it on my own time. But every once in a while there will be the person that wants to talk and wants a phone number. Virtually every time I've talked with people like that, it's like they just want to talk to a person for the sake of talking to a person. I simply don't have time for that. If a few sales are lost because of that, oh well. If I sat and talked to people all day, then there wouldn't be anything to sell, and we'd be out of business. I think every business should be taken on a case by case basis. We're known quite well in online circles, so I really don't think it's much of a problem. But I don't think it's fair to assume somebody is trying to get away with something because they don't have direct contact info. And even if a company does, it's not like that proves you won't be scammed.

    Lovejoy




    msg:3914948
     1:32 pm on May 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

    The business I'm in sells information via Email/Download/Databases/ebooks etc. with automated email,FAQ and email support within 24hrs. I removed our contact information over 10 years ago for many of the same reasons already mentioned:

    * American resistance to buying products from outside the country.

    * People showing up at the door at 8:00am Sunday morning.

    * Narrow profit margins preclude phone support.

    * Customers who phone have historically been time wasters
    looking for freebies or customers who don't even read the two sentence disclaimers on the prepayment pages:

    "This product ships 48-72 hours during our Regular Office Hours ( Bold type)Monday to Friday 8:00AM -6:00pm.Orders received after 6:00pm Friday EST will be processed the following Monday in order of receipt"

    *Even with the above we used to get emails time dated to within five minutes of 48 hours for items ordered
    Friday @ 7:00pm on Sunday @ 7:00PM, demanding instant action, phone number address etc. Some how the whole office closed Saturday & Sunday and 48-72 hour delivery time thing escapes them.......

    We do list on our site the fact we were a traditional "Bricks & Mortar" business starting in 1959, closing our traditional storefront office when we went online in 1996.

    We now only get about five requests a year for our phone number, invariably requesting information they have already
    been provided via automated email and the FAQ.

    Lovejoy

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