Fraser makes it safer for buyers, sellers of Internet commerce

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published March 2, 2016


FRASER — In the Information Age, sales tend to be done through email and specific vendor websites.

Part of that process includes meeting with relative strangers in public places for a first encounter to make a transaction. Now, the process in Fraser does not have to be so dubious.

The city, in a decision supported by the Fraser Department of Public Safety, has planned to install two parking spaces specific to e-commerce sales as a deterrent to potential thefts and other crimes.

Fraser Lt. Mike Pettyes said the department has been aware of more and more scams taking place within city boundaries. Some deals can reach points of no return, he said, referring to a recent situation in which multiple individuals were killed in Detroit in an alleged transaction involving a video game console.

“That’s only, what, 10 miles from our city,” Pettyes said.

He said the parking spaces, which will be located near the tennis courts by the DPS vehicles and City Hall, will contain signs that designate areas of commerce. The signs designate the areas as e-commerce safety zones that are under video surveillance by the DPS.

He became aware of such e-commerce spots one day prior to Shelby Township enacting them in their own community.

He said meeting at strangers’ homes is not encouraged. In the 14 Mile-and-Garfield area that is heavily trafficked, with police coming in and out all day, lights shining bright and surveillance video always running, he doesn’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to exchange near the DPS — or, even better, inside the lobby of the police department.

“There’s so much e-commerce we all do,” Pettyes said. “I just think it gives people the option to do it safely and not reveal where people live. If a person doesn’t want to come into a lobby, then you’d have to question that.”

E-commerce, which includes sales done on popular websites like Amazon, eBay and Craigslist, is only becoming more popular. The U.S. Commerce Department has reported growth in web sales from 2004 to 2014, from $72 billion to $304 billion.

In mid-2015, market research firm eMarketer projected that 7.3 percent of global retail sales would be completed through the Internet via computers and mobile phones.

The firm prognosticated growth to 12.4 percent by 2019 — or, in monetary terms, a whopping total of $3.5 trillion by 2019.

The city is trying to keep up with the changing times, Pettyes said. It doesn’t matter if you’re a buyer or seller — you can get robbed either way if you’re not safe.

“I want to emphasize that we want people to come into the (DPS) lobby,” he said. “Even doing it at gas stations or Meijer is a bad idea.”

The signs were intended to be erected when frost lines warmed up.