Here’s an idea for a way to bring reputation based shopping to the brick and mortar world.
You would get a new special credit card, Visa or Mastercard. In order to use it, you would be required to rate merchants with reputation scores. You would do this when getting your online credit card bill — a random set of the merchants you purchased from would be highlighted and you would have to put in ratings. You would not have to do all of them, nor more than a set number each month and could also beg off some months to avoid it being a burden. This produces a set of ratings which are not nearly as self-selected as most rating systems, and makes it harder for the merchants to deliberately inflate their own ratings or lower competitors, because they actually have to buy stuff and don’t always rate the purchases they choose. (The system could allow manually chosen ratings but would treat them differently.) If you chargeback, your rating would also get special examination.
However, that’s just step one. The real meat comes when you use the card. You could set thresholds, and if you made a purchase at a vendor with a very poor reputation, below your threshold, the card would decline your purchase. At that point, you would have several options:
- Get the signal that the merchant is bad, and abandon the purchase
- Call the 1-800 number on the back of the card on your cell phone. It would spot your caller-ID, and immediately the computer voice would tell you the reputation of the vendor — or tell you that you hit your credit limit. You could then command it to authorize the transaction.
- Alternately, you could just have it automatically approve any second attempt at the transaction, and thus you could just say “run it again.” (Stores could know this and abuse it, however, so the call method makes more sense.)
- More simply, if you still want to purchase, you could just pull out another card, and tell them to try that one.
This would work just as well in online shopping, through frankly browser plug-ins make more sense there. However, people don’t use them so this would still work well. In this case you could go to a web URL instead of call the number. And of course it would be nice if paypal also did this, but they don’t seem inclined.
I don’t know if this would violate any bank agreements with Visa or Mastercard, or if, more to the point, they would rewrite the agreements to make it be a violation. The stores who lose business would of course hate it, but they would tend to be the scam houses that just cause lots of chargebacks anyway, so I don’t see why Visa/MC would want to come to their aid.