Fleeced, ripped-off, cheated, conned. We're all afraid of losing money to wholesalers who turn out not to be the real deal. The horror stories can certainly be very off putting – especially to those just getting started. The trick is to spot it and stop it before it's too late!
So what are signs that you're dealing with a crook?
In our experience, there are 6 particular indications that you may not be dealing with a legitimate wholesaler:
- The wholesaler doesn't sound business-like or professional when answering the phone. For example, he will answer with a plain ‘Yes?' or ‘Hello?', without identifying himself or the business name.
- The wholesaler doesn't request your business license or sales tax ID during the initial contacts. Most true wholesalers will require one of these. While this is not a hugely important deal, if you are looking at dealing in large amounts you will need to get registered and should check that the wholesaler is registered as well.
- The wholesaler gets shifty when you request a product sample. Most wholesaler are only to happy to offer a sample of their product (usually at a higher price) so if they do not offer this be careful and question their reasons for not offering one.
- The wholesaler's claims to take a secure form of payment (credit card, Paypal etc…) but later turns around and says they only accept wire transfer or western union. Not all wholesalers that take western union and wire transfer are scammers, but this is the most common way scammers operate and you should always steer on the side of caution if you are asked to pay be these methods when not having dealt with or knowing the person first.
- Their website offers no physical address or contact phone for you to get hold of them. Be blunt, ask them for a contact address and phone number and if it is ok if you come in and have a look around their offices. If they are serious this will be no problem at all for them.
- They claim they don't currently have stock in and still expect you to pay up front. If this has been happening make sure you get some photographic evidence of their stock with the days newspaper or something (while this doesn't always work, it means some one must have stock that they know).
Although these are not hard and fast rules, you should certainly proceed with caution if one or more of the above apply to a new wholesale contact you have made. If you have any tips to add or past experiences then we'd love to hear from you. Your experience is valuable to the SaleHoo community and I'm sure others would appreciate your comments.
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