Tips For Buying From the Facebook Marketplace.

By Aaron Reese

Facebook MarketplaceThe Facebook Marketplace is steadily growing in popularity. Like Craigslist, it displays a local collection of personal sale classified ads. One reason it’s probably gaining in popularity is that a seller must have a Facebook account. There’s no denying the overwhelming popularity of Facebook. Most people surf the site daily, and it’s awfully convenient to do some shopping while you’re there.

When a seller has a Facebook page, it’s comforting. It helps set a buyer at ease. If the seller’s Facebook page is public, you can see the person’s profile picture. You can look at his or her activity and friends, political rants, friendship quizzes and whatever else they are doing. Craigslist, on the other hand, all but guarantees anonymity with its auto-generated email addresses. It’s easy to see why the Facebook Marketplace might rival Craigslist. It’s a trust thing.

But not so fast.

We already know that Facebook is rife with scams. The BBB issues warnings about them all the time. We also publish articles about plenty of Craigslist scams. Both sites come with their own risks. With the advent of the Facebook Marketplace, we’re seeing a combination of two kinds of scams.

Facebook scams often exploit people’s trust in their Facebook friends list. Scammers will replicate someone’s page, stealing their pictures and sending friend requests to everyone on that person’s friends list. When the scammer gets a few approved friend requests on the fake profile, he’ll start hitting up people in his friends list for money. Sometimes scammers ask to borrow funds for personal reasons. Sometimes scammers tell people that they’ve won a sweepstakes. Sometimes they steer people to scam sites.

Scammers are pulling some of those same tricks to swindle people in the Marketplace. They’re creating fake profiles and claiming to have great deals on merchandise. Scammers are tricky, but you can look for a few red flags that reveal them for what they are.

F-150The deal is too good to be true. You’ll find some great deals in the Marketplace. People will try to get rid of unwanted stuff, but try to recognize when it’s not realistic. For example, I found a 2015 Ford F150, 4-door with chrome running boards on sale for $4,500. That truck is worth $31,000. No one, and I mean no one mind would sell it for so little. The best case scenario is that the seller truly wishes to unload it for so little money…because it’s stolen.

The photos are from the manufacturer’s promotional material. If a seller lists a home entertainment center, they should have pictures of the one they actually own. If they provide a picture with a pristine white background and professional multi-angle lighting, you can safely assume that the seller did not take the picture. You have no way of knowing what the entertainment center looks like, what condition it’s in or if it even really exists

The seller asks you to wire money. Sometimes sellers claim to be out of town. They might tell you that they’ve had other offers, but they’ll do you a favor and hold the item if you wire them some cash. Don’t do this. Ever.

The seller’s Facebook page has no activity. This is a pretty good indication that the profile is new to Facebook and probably fake. If the seller has a private profile, send a friend request so that you can see their history. If you don’t see anything older than a week, don’t buy from them.

You can find more about Facebook scams here and Classified Ad scams here.

If you’ve had experiences with scams in the Facebook Marketplace, let us know. Leave a comment or report it to BBB’s Scamtracker.

The Importance of BBB Customer Reviews

Author: Dustin Johnson

Word of Mouth Just Went Viral!

Online Review StatsYou finish a big job. The customer’s thrilled. Next thing you know, the client’s neighbor wants you to price out some work. Isn’t word-of-mouth a wonderful thing?

Now imagine that same happy customer didn’t just talk to his neighbor but went out and told everyone in town how much he liked your work. Talk about a job well done. Welcome to the wonderful world of online customer reviews. One of the most powerful business development tools available today.

Did You Know?

Did you know that your BBB allows for customers to post reviews about their experiences with businesses, brands and charities whether it be positive, negative or somewhere in between? BBB has always helped consumers with dispute resolution, but for the past few years BBB has also accepted customer reviews.

A BBB customer review is the subjective opinion of a customer who had a marketplace interaction with a business. Customers can share their experience whether it be positive, negative or neutral. The customer is not necessarily seeking any dispute resolution help through BBB, and if he or she is, BBB may recommend to file a complaint instead.

Submit a ReviewBy accepting customer reviews, BBB is able to provide additional information on organizations to help potential customers make educated purchasing decisions. Reviews also allow businesses to demonstrate how they interact with their customers.

In today’s climate, it’s what many consumers are looking for when researching online. Countless potential customers are reading reviews and they’re doing it for almost everything they buy.

Engage Your Customers

Don’t be afraid to ask! Tell customers their feedback and opinions are important to you. If you don’t ask, your chances are much lower in getting a positive review. If a customer has a bad experience they will set out to write a bad review. A customer with a good experience may simply let you know in person, over the phone, or in email within a conversation. This is your time to ask them to share their experience in an online review.

Here are some tips to help you get the right kind of feedback

Ask:  Let customers know you want to hear from them and be responsive and open to their feedback. Tell them that your business is on bbb.org and ask them to write you an online review. You can also solicit reviews after a job is done via an email or even a post card. Be sure to include a URL that directly links them to your BBB Business Profile and/or engage them on Facebook or Twitter with an account for your business.

Save:  Emails and letters with nice customer comments make great testimonials, so keep every one that you get. Do ask for permission before you publish them, and remember to ask if they would submit their review on your BBB Business Profile. For BBB accredited businesses, don’t forget to include your BBB Accreditation Seal to remind customers of your commitment to service.

Share:  Turn customers into advocates. Encourage clients to share a good experience with your business online on Twitter or Facebook.

Follow-up:  If a job went well, but the customer doesn’t leave you a review, contact them again in a few weeks. Politely inquire if they were satisfied with your service. If yes, ask again if they would consider sharing their thoughts online.

Respond:  There’s no reason you can’t respond to a good review by saying thank you publicly. It shows you are listening and people like to be acknowledged. It’s also important to actively monitor your online reputation.

While BBB will contact you when a complaint or customer review has been submitted, get in the habit of searching your business name plus “reviews” to see what comes up. If it’s a negative review, respond timely and professionally. Make an honest effort to resolve the issue but do not continue to engage in a long dialogue online. Try to take it offline and respond more personally via phone or email. As it can be difficult not to take a negative review personally, remember to be professional in your response. Potential customers reading your reviews may consider how you’re responding to them just as important as the reviews themselves.

To learn more about BBB Customer Reviews, including what makes BBB Customer Reviews different from other review sites or to learn about the difference between a customer review and a complaint, visit: https://www.bbb.org/council/reviews/about-bbb-customer-reviews/ or contact your local BBB.

An interview with David Buckley, President and CEO of BBB® of Greater Kansas City

Author: Cherie Reese

David BuckleyDavid Buckley is the current President and CEO of BBB® of Greater Kansas City.  He was pretty much raised knowing all about BBBs since his father, Ray Buckley, worked at the BBB®  starting in 1946 and became President and CEO when his predecessor, Joe Burkhead, passed away in 1969. David would come to the office with his father many times to address the Bulletin on an old Addressograph machine, and started learning the ropes at 8 years old.

Young Buckley was put on the payroll in 1972, after college at K.U. being recruited and lured with the salary of $500 a month. His first official job at the BBB® office was to answer insurance inquiries on the phone. There were no computers to quickly look up information, so David went to the file cabinet, took out the files, reviewed the information, then read A.M. Best insurance reports to consumers.

Today, the first thing he does is turn on his computer and answer each of the 50-75 emails he receives so he can prioritize what needs to be done for the day.  David always greets his staff with a cheerful “Good Morning” as he walks into his office. During the day he can be heard talking to someone and laughing either on the phone or in person. Sometimes the staff is subject to loud music from the 60s and 70s when a favorite song strikes his fancy, but no one seems to mind. It’s just David in a nostalgic mood!

David said his greatest accomplishment was to stay in the same job for over 45 years.

He’s proud of the fact that the BBB® board voted to re-elect him year after year and that they had confidence in his abilities to run BBB® of Greater Kansas City.

Outside of work, his other greatest accomplishments are his 4 children and 3 grandchildren.  The oldest daughter, Tracy is a teaching assistant, tutor and with two children married to Dan, a department manager of Hallmark. Nathan is his oldest son also a computer programmer. He’s married to Melinda and has a 10 month old daughter. David’s 2nd oldest daughter is Tahlia, an organic farmer who loves raising ducks and is also a social worker. His other son is Nick. Nick is a flower shop manager and is going to school to be a construction engineer. He has no children yet but has 3 dogs and is married to Susie.

BBB® has been David’s life for over 45 years and he has now announced he will be retiring January 2, 2018 and is eager to start a new chapter in his life. David said “This is an exciting but a little scary time for me. I’m looking forward to traveling to the gulf coast and Phoenix to see a new-ish granddaughter of 10 months, laying on the beach reading and listening to music. I love rock and opera!”

David has a few hobbies that keep him busy and in good humor, like golfing, and he plays as often as he can. He played racquetball for over 30 years until his knees started giving him trouble.

David inherited good genes… he still visits and takes care of his father who is now 102 years old and resides in assisted living. David and his wife Jan bring him to BBB® luncheons to eat and visit with the staff.

I asked David what was the most interesting thing he learned working at the BBB® and he told me. “Things have changed so much but also remain the same. We’re still fighting fraud and we still ask consumers to use BBB® pre-sale instead of having to file a complaint after the fact.”

Meet the Staff of the Better Business Bureau of Kansas City

Author: Cherie Reese

This is a fine group of people dedicated to helping businesses and consumers. I’m proud to introduce our hard working staff! In the months to come, we will be spotlighting our team to let you know more about who they are, and what they do for the Better Business Bureau of Kansas City.

BBB of KC Staff

Front from left to right, seated front row:
Dustin Johnson, Director of Accreditation;
Cherie Reese, Vice President;
David Buckley, President & CEO;
Jennifer McGlothen, Community Relations & Charity Review.

Back row left to right:
Paul Nelson, Complaints Specialist;
John Sparks, Complaint Specialist, & Mediator;
Aaron Reese, Media Contact & Communications;
Kim Hale, BBB Sales and Retention;
Debbie Ellis, BBB Sales and Retention;
Jessica White, Operations Director;
Nikolas Reese, Customer Reviews & Complaint Specialist;
Astrid Rios, Complaint Specialist.

5 Things You Should Do When Hiring a Contractor

Author: Dustin Johnson

For the past couple of months, I’ve spent just about every weekend doing some type of home improvement or maintenance work to my home and yard. I’m either mowing, trimming trees and bushes, planting flowers, fixing the landscaping, replacing wood rot, painting, staining, installing hardwood floors and the list goes on.

Now my wife wants to remodel two of our bathrooms as she already has new vanities, faucets, tile and paint all picked out and ready to go. She says, “we’ve got out of town guests next month so it needs to get done before they arrive!” Ugh, when does it end? After working at the office all week, aren’t my weekends meant to be more relaxing, especially now, since my wife and I are empty nesters?

I’m not getting any younger and my lower back aches for days after working around the house all weekend. I think it’s time to hire some of this stuff out and start enjoying some more free time pain-free!

Here are 5 things you should do when hiring a contractor.

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The College Conundrum: One Parent’s Journey

Author: Jennifer McGlothen

UniversityWhen I was preparing to go to college, I picked a few schools based on what I thought I wanted to do and where I thought I wanted to be. No campus tours, no interviews. I applied and was accepted. I chose Drake University. My parents had planned financially, accepted my choice and that was it. That was more years ago than I care to admit, but going through the process with my daughter was a bit more complex.  I’m not even sure of all the reasons why, but a few stand out.

Helicopter Parents

First, the college counseling staff at her high school held a meeting in her junior year to begin to outline what happens when and what we parents needed to know.  One clear message I got was about not being a “helicopter parent”. I thought it was a little too late to expect a parent that typically hovers to back off now that their child is ready for college. Besides that, there was a lot to take in about the nuances of admissions, test scores, essays, need-based aid, merit aid, visits and the timing of it all. It was overwhelming, but knowing how my daughter is pretty independent and stays on top of things, I decided there was no need for anxiety. I just let her get in the driver’s seat.

Career Direction

Second, some kids are very clear about their career direction, others are not.  My daughter fell into the latter category for the most part. I was okay with that, remembering how I changed my major as a sophomore and how career goals for me were more a process of discovery, learning what I did and didn’t like with each job I had. But now it seemed that college was way too expensive to not know what you want to do, so I began to understand why some students choose to take a gap year or attend community college for a couple years.

My child was not remotely interested in these choices.  The option of moving away from home for the quintessential college experience was what she wanted. Deciding on this huge educational investment with an eighteen-year-old, with quite a variety of interests and talents began to be somewhat of a conundrum.

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Here’s How To Protect Yourself From Door-to-Door Salespeople

Author: Aaron Reese

No SolicitingAs the weather has warmed, you may have noticed more door-to-door solicitors in your area. You’ve probably had more fliers attached to your screen doors or pamphlets stuffed in your mailboxes. It happens every year. And, of course, with more solicitors coming door-to-door, the risk of coming into contact with scams increases.

The BBB has recently been receiving word of more aggressive tactics by magazine sales companies and charity solicitors, so now is probably a good time for a refresher in what to do when confronted by door-to-door salespeople.

You can find hundreds of articles about how to protect yourselves from door-to-door solicitors, but some of them probably go a little too far in how they portray salespeople. Many articles advise that homeowners should never talk to salespeople. That’s certainly an effective way to avoid door-to-door fraud, but I think it goes a little too far. Most businesses are just trying to find some new customers and door-to-door is one way to do that. I prefer to treat these visits like any other type of advertising… most are fine; some lie. Prepare yourselves for the liars.

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