Opportunities to purchase supplies from new vendors or through co-ops or buys arise every day. Unfortunately, so does the potential for being cheated. It is nothing new; I can think of dozens of instances in my years in the industry.
How can we avoid becoming prey to these schemes? Unfortunately, we cannot avoid it altogether, but we can take steps to lessen the chances.
- Sit back and watch. Missing out on a good deal is better than missing out on a bad deal.
- Just as the old adage says, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If the price is significantly lower than anywhere else, beware that the product may be adulterated or the person has no intent of delivering.
- Do an internet search on the business owner/host. You might find a string of aliases, complaints or a criminal record. On the positive side, you might find someone with a solid record of performance.
- Listen to complaints. Not everyone who complains has a case, but hearing many is a red flag. They are usually similar in nature—product taking too long to ship, partial orders sent, package not received, product not performing as it should, and so on.
- How long has the seller been in business? How many co-ops or buys has she run? I say this with hesitation because all businesses have to start somewhere, but a track record cannot be dismissed, either.
- Does the seller have references? Don’t be afraid to ask around about a seller or ask them about their experience and for references. Even a character reference from someone you trust is helpful.
Don’t be a willing victim of unscrupulous people. As much as we would like to think our community a close, relatively small one, not everyone has your best interests in mind. Take steps to protect yourself.
What other strategies do you have for avoiding becoming a victim?
Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.
Beth Byrne for Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles