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Online Experts Website Looking For More Technicians

Webponder, a video chat website that links the public to experts in a variety of fields, is looking to beef up its stable of automotive specialists. The Miami-based company, which offers everything from legal advice to technology tips, added an auto advice segment last August.

“It’s not a huge number yet, but we get a lot of automotive inquiries,” said Webponder managing partner Steve Thompson.

Webponder is looking for technicians and other experts anywhere in the United States who specialize in bodywork and modifications, tires and rims, and other categories. Site users are interested in a variety of advice, including fair costs for various repair and maintenance work and tips for buying and selling their vehicles, Thompson said.

Anyone with a high-speed Internet connection and a webcam can register as an expert. Webponder charges experts a monthly flat fee that varies by industry. Once registered, experts create a profile, which could include everything from basic business details to videos, articles and other information.

It’s up to the site’s users to decide who best meets their needs. For a fee, Webponder will check an expert’s credentials and award a verified seal. The expert can also pay extra to become a featured expert, with their profile popping up higher in directly search results.

Experts choose their own consultation rate and can also offer free initial consultations.

The service is free for users once they register as a Webponder member. Members make appointments in 15-minute intervals, entering a requested time and subject. The expert can then accept or decline the request, or suggest another time. Once accepted, Webponder charges the user’s credit card and reimburses the expert.

The chat takes place on a 4-by-6-inch screen, and either side can transfer files, including pictures, estimates and specifications.

“I like to describe it as a combination between LinkedIn and Skype,” Thompson said. “It’s almost as if you’re sitting right there in their office.”

Some web interactions may turn into additional business, Thompson said. For example, if a user lives near the expert, they could wind up bringing their vehicles into the shop. Those who don’t live nearby could order products for shipping.

At this point, most users are located in Florida and New Jersey.            — Sarah Hollander

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