Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Laptop Hunting in Adelaide & Trust

Being the saavy consumer that I am, I thought that there was no better way to purchase a laptop than to perhaps shop around on ebay.

I saw a laptop that was more or less what I wanted, and I discovered to my delight the seller was based in Adelaide.

Quick as a flash I sent off a message asking where they were located; if I could come in and browse some of the laptops they had on hand. I would prefer to hand over a large wad of cash in person and carry off a laptop there and then as opposed to trusting them to deliver it to me.

The response:

Although we do have a affiliated store in Adelaide we don not allow preinspection of the ebay notebooks and the store has completely different stock, pickup is available once purchased

Best Regards

All I wanted was a laptop of some description, I wasn't overly picky - I don't care if it's the ebay one or something similar - and you're telling me that you would rather not have my business; that you'd rather I didn't come into your store and you'd rather not talk to me about purchasing a laptop from you?

What a fantastic business model.

I can't for the life of me even find the "associated Adelaide shopfront". Why is it that people are afraid to link their online ebay identies to their actual business?

It's evident that the feedback rating system of ebay is shockingly poor: 99.3% positive ratings - but I get the distinct and uneasy impression that if I were to deal with this merchant in person I'd be left with a very sour taste in my mouth and wouldn't part with my money.

People aren't interested in quality metadata: ratings like "excellent item AAAAAAAAAA" show that people are just getting into a positive feedback circlejerk: these consumers aren't smart (or at least don't care about written language, which gives me a poor impression of their intellect), and I don't know them, so why should I trust them?

And communications with the seller in question show that poor bastard doesn't know how to deal with people: we're just a meal ticket and a positive feedback rating; he doesn't want to deal with us in person.

If I were building an ecommerce trust rating system; here's how I'd do it.
* An application is downloaded that hooks into your email accounts, instant messaging accounts and IRC logs. It finds and identifies the level of communication between yourself and individuals, and ranks them according to the number of messages and approximate length. gaim already does this with "order buddy list by log size", putting the people important to you above all else.
* You get presented with names, and you get to link them between each other. This should be as easy as dragging from A to B.
* Groups / specialised topics are created. "Friends". "Coworkers". "Linux geeks". Concepts are linked to each other as best as possible, and trust ratings are given to the groups on specific subjects. I'd trust linux geeks & coworkers to tell me about hardware, but not friends.
* In some fashion, if at all possible, the application communicates with my contacts and gets any details they feel like providing: ebay usernames, username @ records in firefox, etc.
* When I look on ebay / amazon, I query my network of contacts for information about whatever I'm looking at - seller, product, etc. (SPARQL + jabber?)

How hard would it be to create an suite of components to perform all of these tasks? Extensions in firefox to expose data in there, data mungers to talk to MSN, gaim, etc or parse the logs (or maybe hijack google desktop search), gaim to communicate with my close contacts, a decent triplestore to handle it all (one that *doesn't* get integrated into my browser, I don't need a bloaty browsing experience).
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