A certain blogger/editor who shall remain nameless recently related his experiences purchasing direct off the Net. His experiences were mixed, as it is with many of us who are not computer geeks.
The Internet is here and is likely to be around for a while. You may live to see it replaced with something currently inconceivable -- luckily for me I am not likely to live so long.
I am old enough to remember way back (about 15 years) when few had even heard of buying online. I'm also old enough to remember the Net's predecessor, catalog shopping. My guess is the overall purchasing experience would prove similar. Only once did I purchase clothes from a catalog and nothing about the experience was encouraging. My wife and her mother ordered their kids stuff for years from catalogs and were generally satisfied.
If you are going to be up-to-date, surfing the Net for bargains, you'll find -- as with all marketing methods -- the good, the bad, and the very ugly.
A large part of retail business is now done direct off the Net. Purchasing known items from a known supplier works well for a great many. I've always disliked telephones and if it's on the web it's an easy way for me to order. Have not particularly researched the subject, but understand Internet shopping may be as much as 30 percent of the market -- that many of us computer novices can't all be wrong.
Once upon a time I wrote advertising stuff, mostly for direct mail (a dying art form). What you learn is to make things sound better than they are so that folks will send in their nickels, pennies and dimes. Sometimes what the buyer gets is somewhat less than they thought they would get -- regardless of the marketing form. Doesn't mean the seller was a bad guy, he just had something to sell. Often "the bad" turns out to be simply too much trouble to return, so there you are. This is not unique to the Internet -- my grandfather had trouble returning the snake oil he bought off the back of a horse-drawn wagon.
The Very Ugly
Computer geeks, in their esoteric speak, talk as if they we dealing with inanimate things. We are not. There really are really evil, living people out there trying to steal, kill and destroy.
There is no "silver bullet," which will stop all of the ugly from coming over the Net, anymore than there is any way to avoid evil in any other aspect of life. Evil -- and good -- comes to your door (another antiquated marketing method), through your phone line (dying but not dead), in the mail (still my favorite), or across this mysterious thing call the Internet. (You will note, blogger/editor, I exclude newspapers.)
The net is your friend -- for now. The Net can also be your nemesis -- anytime. As with most things, it is full of the good, the bad, and the very ugly. Sorting it out always comes down to personal responsibility (unfortunately another dying art) and giving it more thought than granddad did when that peddler came through town.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.