For those reading, I encourage you to memorize the following expression: caveat venditor.
I first discovered the term from Daniel Pink’s latest book To Sell is Human; which if you have not yet picked up – do. In the book, Pink dives into an extremely important shift in our economic culture and our relationships with sales.
There was a time when the expression “buyer beware” was more prevalent. It is not hard to imagine how that impacted our industry as photographers, models and makeup artists from dishonest deals and unfulfilled contracts to poor customer service and bad project experiences. The reason behind this was that one side (the seller) controlled the all the information.
From Pink’s book, “The two parties confront ‘an asymmetry in available information.’ One side is fully informed; the other is at least partially in the dark.”
The result of smoke and mirror deals is a decline in industry participants as many decide that instead of having to deal with shady business practices – it is just easier to not be a part of it.
However there is good news. The good news is that we no longer live in that world.
We now live in a world of “caveat venditor” – seller beware.
In today’s economy, we are buyers have almost as much (or identical information) as the seller does. For example; models can do a quick Google search on photographers to do a background check on them. Freelance photographers look up new clients who want to hire them to see if there have ever been complaints against them before. I personally have found prospective clients being called out on blogs for not paying their contract staff. As professionals we can approach many of our business deal and prospective purchases with a new sense of control in the situation.
Deceivers now risk so much more as a bad transaction no longer just results in a customer complain. It results in a Facebook post to 2,000 friends, a Twitter update to 5,000 followers, a blog post that gets sent via RSS to a few hundred subscribers.
This is exactly what happened with blogger Jeff Jarvis and his experience with Dell back in 2005. Simply Google “Dell Hell” to see how his online post affected the computer company.
The seller, not the buyer, is now the one on notice.