Reader Tips on How Buyers Can Beware

In response to last eZine’s editorial on the company “Ted’s Woodworking Plans” (and its other names), which purports to sell a boatload of plans – including many obtained illegally from Woodworker’s Journal and other woodworking publications – we received a few responses from readers. – Editor

“I have looked at this advertisement and never fell for it, for some reason it smelled so I didn’t bite.” – Harold Broomell

“Thank you so much for this editorial. My next big project will be a Lutyens bench and I was scouring the web for plans. Nearly every link I clicked on redirected me to “Ted’s Woodworking plans.” It seemed like a scam and it also appeared they had hijacked legitimate websites, so I didn’t go any further. In the event they have stolen copyrighted material, they should be shut down. Apart from not buying from them, what can be done to shut them down?” – David Milson

David, as you can imagine, this is a source of frustration for us as well. In order to shut them down, there needs to be a legitimate contact, either for the company – or for the web host where the files are stored. As you can imagine, that has been difficult to identify. 

One reader also suggested another alternative for verifying that charities are legitimate. – Editor

“I like to use the Better Business Bureau’s website, www.bbb.org, to verify a charity’s legitimacy. Click on the North America Program headquarters button, then enter the name and location of the charity. Lastly, click on the word ‘business’ and change it to ‘charity’ before clicking on the magnifying glass. Happy giving to the real thing.” –  Bob Albers

And, here are some tips from another reader for online shopping in general. – Editor

“Even I know to be wary of anyone selling things on the Internet. People can do themselves a huge favor by just following a few simple rules if purchasing anything on the Internet. All it takes is a little time and a woodworker’s common sense.

“First some basics, before the nitty-gritty:
A) Avoid sites using WordPress to sell things. Easiest way find out is to look at the bottom right of most web pages for copyright info.

(Note: The Woodworker’s Journal website runs on a WordPress-based platform, but our store does not.)

B)  If the website has to scroll for what seems like forever to tell you about something or plays a four-hour video (exaggeration intended), follow this advice: (In my best Obi-Wan Kenobi) ‘These aren’t the [whatever it is] you’re looking for.’

“Now, a little help when buying online:
1. If you have found a product you want, get the product number or UPC [Universal Product Code, the little lines on the product with numbers underneath] and use your favorite search engine to search for it. This will give you several bits of information. First off is whether or not the place you originally found it is over-pricing the product and most importantly, whether they actually own the product or have the right to sell it.

“2. Carefully look at the site’s security logos, generally found along the bottom edges. They should be clickable and provide up-to-date verification of websites’ SSL certificates.

“3. By all means, go to the Better Business Bureau’s website and use their web address in the search engine. Do not use a Better Business Bureau link from the website itself: most likely it is not even for the site itself. As an example, I will use the site you mentioned, Ted’s Woodworking. If you use the site’s order form Better Business Bureau link, you will see that it is for clickbank.net and not Ted’s website. Now take a look at Ted’s Woodworking website at the Better Business Bureau site: it has a rating of an F!!

“4. If you click to purchase and the website’s URL does not change to a secure https:// or switches to a different site altogether, stop; go no further; run away!

“If you have done all of the above and feel confident of the website’s integrity, by all means, support the Internet’s commerce!

“One more suggestion: Be sure to use a credit card the protects you while using it online.

“Thanks for the editorial this week!” –  Joel Cody

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