RealTime IT News

Web Site Alliance Aimed at Making E-Commerce Safer

Buyer's Index, a search engine for online shoppers, teamed up with two consumer protection organizations to give buyers an instant view of who's been naughty and who's been nice.

"This is a big step toward popularizing electronic commerce," said Christopher MacPhail, creator of the Buyer's Index search engine. "Buyers want to know which merchants they can trust, but they don't want to dig for the information. Now, shoppers can see whether a merchant is in good standing with BizRate and The Public Eye while they use the Buyer's Index search engine to find products."

BizRate is a collector of customer service data for Web merchants. It systematically polls customers after they have bought from its 60 gold certified merchants and also performs reviews of more than 400 silver certified merchants.

The Public Eye is a collector of online merchant reliability data. It tracks a constant stream of feedback from shoppers who file customer satisfaction reports of their experiences with 3,500 Public Eye Platinum certified merchants. Public Eye also uses undercover shoppers to confirm the reliability of some 500 Gold certified merchants.

Newton, MA-based Buyer's Index lists information on 10,000 merchant companies and helps buyers find specific products by finding key word matches.

All three companies offer consumers free access to their Web sites and offer free registration for qualifying merchants.

Buyer's Index now displays BizRate and Public Eye symbols within its merchant listings. Buyers simply click on the symbol to see that merchant's reliability report at the BizRate or Public Eye Web site.

"As a shopper, it's not enough to know that a site is secure," said Errol Smith, managing partner at Public Eye. "Anybody with a hundred bucks to spare can operate a 'secure' merchant site. The main thing is, does the merchant know what modern customer service is? Is it going to be like doing business with L.L. Bean or Lands' End?"