Below is a conversation I stumbled over on a commercial site’s facebook page which was posted an hour or so ago between persons A & B.
A] i do not want to use a credit card on the internet so is it possible to pay by check? if not is there any store that sells these in the united states
B]you can use paypal if you prefer that
A] what is paypal
I don’t know what your initial response to this was, but I can tell you that mine was to derisively snort and mock person A for being clueless, and not getting with the program. A little reflection turned me around, though.
Let’s leave the ‘what is paypal’ part of this alone. We’ll just take from it an assumption that A isn’t used to online commerce. I’m more interested in A’s reluctance to trust a faceless commercial entity with their credit card details, and my initial reaction.
I had a credit card (and then, later, a debit card) before Al Gore invented the intertubes. When online commerce began to take its first tentative steps back in the last century, it was a brave person indeed who’d trust their credit card details to the internet. The media was full of horror stories of consumers who’d had their accounts plundered after providing their credit card details to online merchants. During the 2 year period of 2001/2002, for example, over 50% of Australian online merchants were defrauded at least once when a consumer’s stolen credit card details were used to make an online purchase from them. That figure strikes me as low, actually.
So, what’s changed? Why do I now snort, instead of nodding sagely?
I have no idea. And it troubles me that I don’t. I shop online once a month or so – not very often, but I do it without concern. And I don’t know why I started to trust the net. It’s not as if fraud’s gone away, after all. I think that it became harder to avoid shopping online, and easier to throw up my hands and go along with the crowd. At some point it became easier to trust than not to trust, I suppose.
I only use a debit card. Perhaps that was why I initially succumbed – I knew I couldn’t lose more than my life savings. Which doesn’t make that much sense, when I read what I’ve written.
I’ve never been ripped off online. I avoid doing obviously stupid things, which must help to some degree. And I think I’ve gone too far to cancel my paypal acct, or stop shopping online. But it’s really eating away at me that I still have no idea why I decided to trust the web.
Person A, I apologise for mocking. Instead, I salute you, and I urge you to hold firm to your principles and your doubts.