For most online lampwork sellers (and all kinds of other sellers) the preferred method of payment is paypal and for good reason. Paypal gives both the seller and the buyer protection against the sale and purchase. As a seller, if I ship my item within seven days of payment, with delivery confirmation, I am covered if the Post Office confirms my item has been delivered (as long as I shipped to a paypal verified address). As the buyer I have 45 days from the date of payment to open a dispute if I haven’t received my item or there is something wrong with it. We have a mediator and for the most part if I follow the guidelines I am covered both as a buyer and a seller.
But what about checks and money orders? I have a handful of customers who pay by either check or money order, or on a rare occasion they send me cash in the mail. I know there are people who don’t like to do banking type stuff online and that is fine with me. But what about the scammers out there? You know, the people who knowingly write hot checks. In my nine years of doing business online I have only had one instance of a person trying to scam me via check. That was last week.
I have to admit, I was weary from the start. This particular person ordered over $200 worth of stuff out of my artfire store. The amount on this sale isn’t so unusual and I was running a sale, which brought it down closer to $160. I sent a paypal invoice, to which she replied she would be sending a check. This is where I start to wonder, as I haven’t ever done business with this person before. On Artfire, one does not have to sign up to purchase, therefore there isn’t a user name or a way to track their activity at all, unlike etsy or ebay. Then two days later, the same person ordered $400 worth of stuff from my website. I sent the revised invoice for my BOGO Half off sale, to which she replies she has already sent the money and just add more beads to make up the difference.
Warning Bells! So I goggle this person. I find nothing but a closed etsy account. My husband tells me to stop being so pessimistic. Still, I have no real reason to believe this person is trying to scam me, so when the two checks come I run them down to the bank and wait for them to clear.
Here is the tricky part. Two days later they did clear and the funds were sitting in my account. But wait! If you know anything about the banking system, you know a check can still bounce later all depending on when the two banks communicate with each other. A day after the checks cleared my account I was scheduled to be in Tennessee at Bead Camp, so I put the whole thing on hold and told myself I would deal with it later. I emailed the customer and told her I was going to be out of town and I’d ship her items when I got home.
Six days later I returned home and checked my account, to find they had indeed bounced, with a ten dollar fee to me for each one. I am now out $20. Great. The next day I received the scanned checks in the mail confirming they were written on a closed count.
I emailed the person to let them know I would not be sending the product and I am not surprised I received no response.
At least I didn’t send her any product. Thank goodness. I am just one person and $600 worth of inventory is a good week worth of production. A day later my friend pointed me to a thread on Lampwork Etc, where one of my fellow lampworkers was scammed by the same person. You can read it Here. So sellers please beware if you receive a request to pay by check from a Ms Tonya Pendley of Jasper, Alabama. I don’t know if this is a case of identity theif or not, but a person is going around the internet writing checks on a closed account in that name.
So do I still accept checks? Yes, I do. And money orders, which have their own issues. The biggest money order scam out there is when someone wants to pay by money order and over pays and asks you to send them the difference back. This is always a scam, please do not fall for it. The money orders bounce later just like bad checks when you deposit them.
While I still accept checks and money orders, I am careful to do my research on the buyer if I haven’t dealt with them before and I listen to that little voice in my head when it tells me something is amiss.
It’s a tough economy and we are working harder than ever. It’s easy to get excited about a large sale, but be patient and deligent and don’t let the scammers scam you. Good luck!