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Buying plumbing and heating supplies on the internet

Our approach is simple. We lead, others follow - This might sound like a bold claim but the reality is here to be seen. Many little outfits have jumped on the bandwagon and tried to emulate what we brought to the industry over a decade ago -

Top Quality

Old Fashioned Service

Best Prices

So many businesses these days have taken advantage of internet technology with little or no regard for the level of service that once set people apart. This is a matter we have not lost sight of and so proudly boast a customer service ethic reminiscent of the good old days.

Words however are cheap. It is easy to claim anything you like. But the acid test comes when you begin searching for a product or attempt to use the internet for a purchase.

Q. Is the website user friendly? Can you navigate your way around it easily to find what you seek?

Q. Does the website offer you means to make contact easily? You'd be surprised how many don't even provide you with a postal address! What therefore will you do in the event of a problem?

Q. Is there somebody on the end of a telephone to provide answers to any questions you may have or do you only have an email address as your means of contact? An 'email only' business should be avoided like the plague!

Q. Are you being offered 'Price Matching' or 'Beat Any Price'? These are people you really should stay clear of. If you can get a better deal why are you being charged more from the outset?

Whilst the internet must be considered a revolutionary development in communications it has also provided an opportunity for lazy chancers to grab at passing trade. Sadly there are those who simply set up a website with a shopping cart and hope a few gullible visitors might place orders electronically while they themselves are out on the golf course. You think this is a joke? Believe it! Operating from a bedroom many 'would be' businesses operate entirely in this manner. By utilising a shopping cart (which completely automates processes) the system simply emails a copies of your requirement to the website owner and a merchant credit card processor (someone like PayPal if indeed an account is held) who deals with the money. The website can be made to appear as though you are dealing with big business when in fact there's nothing more than a PC in a bedroom belonging to a golf fanatic at the other end!! There is of course the risk that the contents of the website are fictitious and by being offered blistering hot deals you will attempt a purchase, giving away your credit card details in the process.

So how can you tell? There are numerous ways to differentiate between the chancers and professional businesses that care about what they do and genuinely do what they offer.

Call the website by telephone. Can you always get an answer during normal business hours? Ask questions about the product/s that interests you. Ask for advice. Can you get a knowledgeable response? Does the person who you speak with sound enthusiastic and helpful? If not, why not?

Then there is the 'shopping cart' system. This is an interesting area of debate. Good, or a recipe for trouble? Shopping cart systems on one hand offer a simple method of placing an order and paying for it. In a perfect world one might consider this as 'job done'. However, the world is far from perfect so make sure you go into your purchase with your eyes wide open.

When you confirm your order/payment on a website shopping cart you set in motion several actions. As mentioned, the system sends an email to the website owner stating your requirement. Providing the website owner has a merchant account with a credit card factoring service/bank your payment is handled remotely. If no such account exists (or as an additional piece of information) the website owner will be advised of your credit card details.

So far so good eh? This is where potential problems may begin. Firstly, you are sending your credit card details electronically over the internet to somebody you must trust without knowing them. When you do this the information could be intercepted or simply stolen. As the information arrives at its destination it is stored on a computer which by its nature must be connected to the internet. Very few computer systems are protected entirely from being 'hacked', so the chances are (if your destination happens to be the PC in a bedroom of a golfer) the casual trader won't have sufficient security (security = cost) to protect the computer upon which your information is stored. Your details are now open to all sorts of abuse - card cloning, identity theft etc. This is a major issue that card companies take very seriously.

That's only one concern! What about the goods you wish to purchase? Do they actually exist? Are they in stock, or do you consider the lead time reasonable? Are you sure they are right for the job you wish them to perform? Are they actually what you intend to purchase? These are all matters that automation cannot cope with.

While the anonymity of shopping carts might suggest simplicity, total automation does in itself introduce the potential for error and abuse. A shopping cart will not realise you are buying the wrong thing, or notice that your purchase won't do the job you want done. This is one of the biggest failings of this new-found technology. It is also something to be exploited by the 'less than honest'.

So, in short, while technology must be embraced it will never be the final solution because of many serious flaws. Shopping carts are unable to think.

Our organisation believes in a blend of old fashioned service whilst engaging with state of the art technology. You can always contact a friendly member of staff here during business hours. We always have somebody knowledgeable on hand to discuss your requirements, give advice and make suggestions. We invest heavily in computer systems and security and you can place an order online, but we NEVER ask you to send credit card details over the internet. Once your order is received you will be contacted by a member of staff who will firstly confirm your requirements and their suitability (as best possible) for their intended task and take payment details verbally.

One might consider such a final step as retrograde but in reality it serves several very practical purposes.

Occasionally we can detect through conversation when an incorrect item has been ordered (this is not foolproof but happens frequently). It also gives us an opportunity to provide additional information we feel may be of importance. Through conversation we can often prevent an incorrect purchase and do away with the costly inconvenience of you having to return something bought in error. Conversation also gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have or seek advice - we are only too pleased to help. We do not vary from this process.

Speaking with you also prevents the need for your card details to be transmitted over the internet - spoken instructions are considered far safer than electronic transmission, so the risk of your information being used fraudulently because of interception are zero. As an added security measure your card information is not stored on a computer connected to the internet - so it is totally impossible for your details to fall into the wrong hands as our system cannot be hacked.

As mentioned, we are proud of the system we have developed and we know it works well.

All that remains is for you to try us and see if our claims are good. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

 
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