I have a vivid memory of starting to trade on the internet. Like much of my life back then, people were full of doubt that it would ever work. If people weren’t questioning whether home ed would work, whether it was legal or could be trusted, people were wondering what on earth I thought I was doing setting up an online. shop.
“No one will ever buy online,” people would say. “I can’t see people ever believing they’ll actually receive things if they buy online,” and “I wouldn’t risk that. Who is ever going to put their card details into a website?”
eBay was embryonic, Paypal still a misunderstood service, there was no other obvious way to pay with a credit card, most people who purchased online seemed to be genuinely delighted if their items actually arrived.
But in that great wash of human optimism in the goodwill of others, lubricated with a dose of hope over expectation, people tried it and it mostly worked. Online market places became the places to grab a bargain and the internet turned into the flea market of the world.
Even the best of us will get caught out by a hoax occasionally, whether a sneaky joke that flies under your radar or a deal that is too good to be true. One of Fran’s favourite ever Nintendo games was bought online and turned out to be a fraud. It played but you had to start from scratch each time and I had optimistically purchased from overseas. It was fake, of course and never worked properly. I learned my lesson and the touch and feel we do on goods in front of our eyes turned into a series of skills I learned to use online. Too weird? Probably fake? Too cheap? Probably fake? Too good to be true? Probably fake?
I still mess it up at times, if I’m in a rush or not paying attention or forget to check feedback, origin and comparative price. In 2011 115 million fake goods were detained on EU borders. I think this frightens me the most; 27 million fake medicines were detained. What a risk to take. What an education we have to supply to our kids now, to help them navigate that minefield as they grow up. The man with sweets at the school gate is an almost lightweight monster by comparison.
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