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B2C E-commerce: Trustworthy enough to “Bill Me Later”? February 14, 2007

Posted by Lady in Internet, Technology.



E-commerce seems to be a popular topic right now, probably because we have all engaged in an online purchase at least once in our lifetime. Keeping along this topic, I recently read this article that discussed how companies are using their customer resource management (CRM) software to promote B2C e-commerce and build relationships with their online customers. For example, the company 14 commerce has designed systems that are linked to the “Bill Me Later” online payment service which can tell online merchants whether or not a customer can be trusted to buy their merchandise without paying up-front. The Vice President was reluctant to elaborate on how the system works and what information it collects; he just called it “magic”. Basically, the system that 14 commerce designed is capable of running a credit check in less than five seconds which will automatically tell the customer if they are approved or not.


According to Vince Talbert, Vice President of Marketing, the purpose of the system is to make doing B2C commerce more personal for the customer since they are not actually going into the stores to make purchases. The system collects information through CRM, tracking cookies and radio frequency identification (RFID) about the customer and this is apparently supposed to make merchants “appear friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about their [customers’] lives”.  From reading this article, it gives the appearance that businesses are really only after trying to improve their customer relations online and make them stronger and more personal. But in my mind, I am having a hard time accepting this and it seems to me that they are simply just trying to “root-out” the trustworthy from the untrustworthy. I do not doubt these companies for having these concerns about their customers. My only problem is how they portray it to the customer. I do not feel like they are being honest about what their intentions are. I am aware of the fact that some companies collect information when I make purchases, but I thought they were only doing it in order to make recommendations for my next purchase. Honestly, I am curious to know what other information they are collecting about their customers and how they are using it. I don’t know if I’m just making a big deal. What does everyone else think about this?



1. Janine - February 14, 2007

This is interesting. I have definitely noticed the “Bill Me Later” option when I make purchases online, which I have to admit, is quite frequently. I have never used it, but in theory, the option seems good. However, as with anything we do online, we should be wary. Information on all of us is out there somewhere; we have to expect it. In that light and with that being said, I do not blame the companies for gathering this information on the customers who use the ‘bill me later’ option. It is just like a credit card. You are entrusting the customer to pay later, which can suggest that the customer does not have the fnds right away for the product. One has to think, if he or she cannot pay now, will he or she be able to pay later? Ideally, the answer is yes, but we all know from the stories we hear about credit card debt, that is not always the case. So I see the company’s point about gathering information about the customer’s reliability. I mean, it is not the most favorable thing to think about, but I guess I would rather not know exactly what they are looking for. Buying online is risky, and I always go in with the knowledge that someone, somewhere is watching your activity.

2. Elaine - February 19, 2007

I never knew much about the ‘bill me later’ option, but it supposely tries to make the consumers’ lives easier. That’s how it was portrayed to me. Although there are keeping tabs on us and probably have more information and records on the public than we think, it is probably for the best. There are a lot of scams (involving credit cards, finances, etc.) and I don’t blame companies for needing a background approval check on their customers.

3. Charley S - February 20, 2007

I have not yet seen a bill me later option when I make purchases online, but I would be extremely hesitant to use it. I do not want some shady internet company accessing my credit record, frankly it’s a little wierd that they can do that without informing you that they are actually going through your financial records. I’m pretty sure that through the internet a bunch of companies know way more about me than they should. This makes me nervous because there have been instances where entire customer databases have been accidentally available online and copied illegaly (AOL). Unfortunetely, it’s hard to fight against the current of technology.

4. Stephanie - February 27, 2007

I hardly ever purchase items online. I do love technology, but I am skeptical when it comes to shopping. I like to be able to see the product in person, feel or see the quality and color. And yes, I am also hesitant about typing in my credit card information online. Maybe it is because I know too many friends who can hack into computers/systems and report back to me just how many security flaws there are.

I am just a bit old fashion. I like real paper post-it notes, shopping for the experience and the security I am buying exactly what I want and not have my credit card information stolen, and I like to read printed materials rather than reading on a computer screen.

I understand that companies need their own security that customers are legitimate, but as a customer, I am only looking after myself.

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