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If you have testimonials and feedback from happy customers, tell world. It's true that Richardson had these advantages, too, but he is newsworthy simply because he is an exception and not rule. Generally, feedback system works very well.
If you have special credentials, let buyers know. For example, perhaps you are a nurse who sells nutritional supplements or you are an antique dealer who has been in business for 30 years and can prove it.
This kind of credibility is much more reassuring than a one page website and a free hotmail address.
2. Credit cards are safest way to purchase anything. These days, it is possible for most entrepreneurs to accept credit cards through auction sites or 3rd party processors, even if they don't have their own merchant account. Go even further and explain safety of credit cards to your buyers.
In my one and only personal experience with auction fraud, there were dozens of other sellers who never received their merchandise. Those who paid by credit card, like I did, received their money back. Those who paid with cash or cashier's checks simply lost their money.
eBay has fraud protection, but it only covers $175.
3. Escrow is a great safeguard, although it is most practical for higher priced sales. It works like this:
a. The buyer sends purchase price to escrow company, who then verifies funds b. The escrow company notifies seller who ships merchandise to buyer c. When buyer is satisfied, money is released to seller d. If buyer isn't satisfied, he can return merchandise to seller and receive his money back. These kinds of conditions are usually specified in advance. That is, "I changed my mind" usually isn't grounds for return of merchandise. It normally has to be misrepresented in some way for a buyer return.
According to news stories, one of Richardson's buyers sent a registered check for $20,000. That money is lost for good. If buyer had been careful enough to use an escrow company that loss would not have occurred. If you sell expensive items, always mention this option to buyers. Even if they choose not to use it, they will know you have nothing to hide.
Sydney Johnston, the AUCTION QUEEN, was one of the original sellers on eBay.com back in 1996. She is the author of Make Your Net Auction Sell!, published by Dr. Ken Evoy and sitesell. She is the originator and teacher of the famous Auction Genius Course, a powerful 16 hour seminar on the internet that teaches everything necessary to build a powerful and wealthy online auction, and includes software and numerous other aids. http://auction-genius-course.com