The Ten Commandments of Internet Surfing and Shopping

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Spam is a problem, but the real problem is direct marketers who don't know how to sell or contribute to a brand.

The Web enabled any crook having a couple bucks to go into business. And right alongside them were direct marketers with their ethics-be-damned list gathering followed by e-mail carpet bombing.

You didn't need a crystal ball to know legislation was coming. But even before the government stepped in, online consumers were crafting Ten Commandments of Internet Surfing and Shopping:

1. Trust nobody.

2. Only a fool buys directly from an e-mail. Buy only from online retailers having Web sites.

3. Stick with known brands.

4. Go elsewhere if an online retailer's turnaround time is not specified or exceeds 24 hours.

5. Buy only from online retailers posting detailed contact and ownership information right up front.

6. Phone or send an e-mail before placing your first order. Response time exceeding an hour is a red flag.

7. Don't believe the privacy policy, period. That includes opt-in lists and so-called permission marketing.

8. To avoid the inevitable spam, you should have a separate e-mail address used just for purchases, opt-ins, newsletters, etc.

9. Before clicking the submit button, make sure an online invoice stipulates the total shipping and handling charges.

10. Web-only retailers are generally better, cheaper, faster and more customer-friendly than brick-and-mortar chain store behemoths.

Thomas Amshay, RFTS Highspeed Marketing, Cuyahoga Falls, OH

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