Richard from WhatShed has returned with some new advice for a prospective workshop buyer. This time though the advice is not on the actual workshop you will be buying, but where you will be buying it from. Thanks Richard.
Richard: It can be hard to know what online merchant to trust these days. Anyone can make a nice looking site that looks trustworthy and says all the right thing, but it is down to you the customer to dig deeper and find out what kind of experiences other customers have had.
In the past, WhatShed did a lot of research and come up with a great article on how you can spot a fake review. It showed people the things they should look for to see if a review is actually written by a real customer. Here’s the things to look for to make sure that the online retailer you are dealing with is worth dealing with.
Check Customer Reviews
There are a ton of sites that let customers post reviews, TrustPilot is one of the main ones that WhatShed use to see peoples opinions on online merchants, products and so on. If we take one of the bigger online merchants of garden buildings, Buy Sheds Direct and look at their TrustPilot score you can see that it is exceptionally good. Over ¾ of their reviews are rated as great or excellent and that is what we like to see. But do not just look at the percentages, look at the number of reviews. We can see that there are well over 1000 customer reviews so that is a very high number of happy customers. Of course some of the smaller or newer online merchants will not have as many reviews, but when a large company like this has such a large number of positive reviews, it is always a good to see.
Look At The Average And Bad Too!
Again using the folks at Buy Sheds Direct as an example. While the majority of their reviews are incredibly positive. There is still a small number of negative reviews. It is usually worthwhile checking these out just to see what kind of experience these customers have had. A lot of the time these types of reviews are done in the heat of the moment when a person is angry so it can be hard to take them at face value. Three star reviews which are the middle of the road reviews are worth checking out as well. Ask yourself, if the complaints people have are fair and sometimes the merchant will actually respond to a person’s bad review and the way they respond can be helpful in giving you some more insight into the merchant.
Check Out Their Social Media Accounts
You may be surprised to know this, but Facebook can be used for much more than just looking at pictures of cats and getting into heated arguments over Star Wars with strangers. In all seriousness using Facebook to check an online merchants interaction with customers is a great way to see how they deal with people. If they are rude and not very helpful, you know that dealing with them is a bit of a risk. But if even when people are mad and rather abuse towards them, if they keep their cool and do all they can to fix an issue. It can make you feel more at ease and it does make them seem more helpful. Most online merchants have a Facebook or Twitter account these days and if they do not or they do not allow people to post on them, you have to start asking yourself why?
How Easy Are They To Get Hold Of?
It is so easy to buy something online these days, but what if something goes wrong or you need to change something? How will you get in touch? The best online merchants will go above and beyond to offer good customer service. We are using the people at Buy Sheds Direct as an example because they are one of the better online merchants out there. But on their homepage right at the top, they make it a point to mention they have a UK call centre. This is great to see, but we suggest you dig a bit deeper.
Look at if they have an after sales email address or just a general help email address, it can be much easier to get in touch with a merchant this way. Many merchants make use of virtual agents these days, you can have a box pop up on the site and ask any questions you have directly to someone in their office. Getting hold of someone, especially when money is involved should never be hard. All the reliable online merchants will make getting in touch with them as easy as possible. If you have to hunt around the site to find a phone number or an email address that can be a sign that they will be hard to get a hold of.
Do Not Put Too Much Faith In Onsite Reviews
One of the mistakes that many people will make is just looking at the reviews on the actual merchant’s site. Most online merchants will allow customer reviews, but just because they have a ton of good reviews on their actual site does not mean anything. Some online merchants will allow anyone, even if they have not bought the workshop or shed in question from them write a review! This to us is pretty crazy and the main reason as to why we would not put a lot of trust in onsite reviews.
Especially if they are all glowing 5 and 4 star reviews. Some merchants monitor the reviews before they are posted so only the good ones go up and other merchants just ignore their onsite reviews altogether. Some of these may be genuine reviews, but for us, it is far too hard to know when a review on a merchant’s site was written by an actual customer or by the merchant themselves.
Final Thoughts On What To Look For
WhatShed knows how hard it can be to know if the online merchant you are looking at is going to be good. What we will say is that you need to use your own judgement. If you find a workshop you like, do not just jump right in. Do your research not just on the actual workshop, but the people you are buying it from. If you are going to be spending a lot of money, get in touch with them and ask them all the questions you have. Questions like when will it be delivered? What if there is damage? What is the warranty? Questions like these should be easy for any good and trustworthy online merchant to answer.