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The International Writers Magazine
:
THE THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS OF A BUDDHIST AMONG BAPTISTS
Reverend Father Antonio Hernández, O.M.D., A.B.F.
Founder of the Independent Order of American Buddhist Fathers
suriak@yahoo.com


NOT-SO-SWEET MYSTERY OF ONLINE MERCHANTS

It should be easy to order something off the internet. It should be as easy as ordering from a catalogue. Yet somehow the internet is the primary haven for every sort of shady, crooked gypsy of a merchant. It's wrong.

Complaining has become my pastime; that's also wrong. But we're not going to consider that here. This is about unprofessional, shady, dishonest or otherwise disgusting internet merchants.
Let me regale my beloved readers with a true story....

I saw something I liked on a website. I checked out its background as well as I could. I contacted them about ordering a product. I sent the money after the particulars were arranged. Know what I got?
A dozen excuses as to why I have nothing, two months after they received my order; one of the most insulting, hurtful letters anyone has ever sent to me (because I had the temerity to complain at them); and no product. What good is the promise of another order or refund being sent? These people are about as trustworthy as the Catholic Church.
Moral? I don't know. Does anyone know?

How about: BE A PROFESSIONAL AND NOT A CHILD.
Then it hit me: how many times have I been in contact with psychos? How many times have I lucked out: received my order and gone away happy? The thought gives me the heebiest of jeebies. I've dealt mostly with honorable and kind merchants. They are not confined to online business, and are respectable. They care about their customers; especially businesses in the U.K., New Zealand and Australia.
Is it difficult to be a good online business person, to care about the customer? Apparently so. I have a solution: instead of palming off our internet troubles onto the United Nations, how about we police it ourselves?

That's right: ONLINE VIGILANCE COMMITTEES.
Each nation/state can take applications, choose committees, and rely on the committees to choose local internet watchdogs. When a complaint or fishy scenario arises, the watchdogs TAG the site with a pop-up banner. The banner will list complaints against the site. Or we could simply have a global complaint page: a Universal Online Better Business Bureau. Or we could have the United Internet Nations. Why don't we have this now?

Instead, I have to see pop-up banners with ads for T&A, Viagra or other such explicit horrors. Oh well. For the moment, some kind of individual boycott is all I can really think of trying. My warning banner is a lousy idea, and a vigilance committee would be more crooked than any gypsy merchant. A global complaint page would be the Chinese fire drill of the millennium.

Perhaps we can all prepare some kind of generic complaint-form. If someone steps out of line, we blast them with the form and copy it to their webmaster. Somehow, I don't think this would work either. Just think of all the idiots who abuse the services that are available online.
But it would be a hell of a good therapeutic exercise.
© Rev Antonio Hernandez May 2004

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