This column appeared in the March 5, 1999, issue of the Industry Standard. Here’s the version that appeared in the Industry Standard.
When it comes to shopping online, who deserves your trust?
The big guys, certainly: Amazon, CDnow. But what about small outfits you’ve never dealt with? How do you know whether you’re dealing with a reputable Web merchant or a fly-by-night operator? And if they are legitimate, are they also reliable?
Users seeking to size up an online merchant can go about it in different ways: independent research; queries to a Usenet newsgroup; relying on a seal of approval by a private watchdog group; or visiting an independent Web site that monitors e-commerce retailers.