Earlier this morning, I shared a link on Facebook for (what I thought) was a couple of very pretty hoodie style parkas for fall.
After sharing the link, I noted a tell-tale tip-off that the company might be a scam site, and adjusted the post to reflect that.
After thinking about it, I wanted to share some of the awful experiences Craig and I had, while shopping online for our wedding this year.
Let me repeat that.
We got ripped off, repeatedly, while shopping for our wedding.
Three, very popular “companies” that troll Facebook and other social media sites, preying on poor, unsuspecting people like us, who, have already run ourselves into debt planning a wedding by getting engaged.
I’m not even going to dignify their sites with a link, because I don’t want others to have the same experience.
1. Fall in love with a dress or products.
2. Fall in love with the price (the old addage holds true – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is).
3. Suffer the stress of now being out however ridiculously little you spent, and have no product to show for it.
We’d made several orders on these sites, so it wasn’t just 20 bucks; regardless, that’s not the point.
The one item we ordered and did actually receive, was not only the wrong size and color, but literally fell apart taking it out of the packaging (which we received after our May wedding, even though it had been ordered in December – I have a feeling the poor woman in the story below ordered from one of these sites, although in fairness, we’re not all the handpicked model who is going to look just as good in the dress/jeans/swimsuit).
It took me awhile to get the system down, but I eventually got most of our money refunded. I also reported the incidents to The FBI Fraud Department as well as Interpol, since most of these companies are overseas (at least, the three I mentioned, are based in Asia).
However, in having this horrendous experience and ending up with a wedding dress I was less than happy with as a result (I got Craig, and that’s all that really mattered), I’ve found not only a few “red flags” to watch for when shopping online, as well as some ways to deal with it, if you do get scammed.
1. The English and grammar on a promotional post, isn’t quite right.
No, I’m not trying to be racist and yes, we all have a bad day when it comes to spell-check. But, if you consistently see, “Which you like?”, or “Which you wear?”, as opposed to, “Which do you like”, or, “Which would you wear”, good chance it’s a scam site, based outside the US.
2. The prices are too good to be true.
Again, it probably is. We learned that the sites we dealt with, didn’t even have the products they advertised in stock, and didn’t know if they would get them back in stock, or even ever have them at all. I shit you not. Most of them buy bulk quantities of “seconds” (products too flawed for retail) or designer knock-offs made in, okay…I’ll say it…sweatshops by kids. If you’ve ever been to Manhattan and seen the carts of designer knock-off sunglasses and handbags…these products make those look amazing.
3. Read the comments and feedback.
Not just how many people have been “tagged”, but people like myself will often post warnings about using a company, until we’re banned from the page or site. I’d always been so particular when purchasing on E-bay, about only ordering from sellers with a 99% positive feedback score, or higher – and, I would still read the feedback so I knew what I was in for. Every company is going to have a disgruntled ex-employee or pissed off patron here or there. But, had I not been in such a rush to have everything here in time, I might have saved myself a lot more time in the long run.
4. Quotation marks.
This seems silly, but that “diamond” ring or real “pearl” trim tells you that they have something to hide. Usually the fact that it’s fake.
5. Too many choices.
Most legitimate companies are only going to have so much room for inventory. If the selection seems endless, chances are they’re ordering from a second, third even fourth party company, hence products not being in stock or maybe not even available.
So, you’ve been scammed. Now what?
1. Call the company. You can try e-mail, but chances are it will mysteriously get “lost”. Call and talk to a person. If you’re dealing with a company in Asia, like we were, 9-5 isn’t going to get you anywhere. You’re going to have to call about midnight AZ MTN time. There’s a good chance your service representative won’t speak much English (I speak bits of about 13 languages, none of which are Asian in origin), however, their supervisor probably will. Ask for the supervisor immediately. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Just let them finish their “Hello…”, and ask.
2. Don’t be afraid to get bitchy.
If you’re super sweet, you may be viewed as a push-over, which won’t get you the same results as being a complete bitch. Sure, start out polite, but if you start hearing a lot of “No, we can’t…”, or “That’s not possible…”, flip your bitch switch and watch how fast they can.
3. Forget the products.
Immediately go for the refund. They will give you a list longer than the Bible as to why it hasn’t arrived or when it will arrive. Forget it. Demand a refund within 72 hours. Demand they give you an estimated time and date, as well as how it will show on your bank or credit card statement. Demand they refund all costs, including shipping. Write down the date, time and name of the person you spoke with and make it clear if it’s not refunded by “X” date, you will be reporting them to not only your bank, but the FBI and (if relevant) Interpol.
4. Report them anyway.
Wait until the 72 hours has passed before you report it to your bank, but report it to the appropriate agencies immediately. Even if the money is refunded promptly, still notify your bank/credit card company in the event the company tries to “re-charge” your account. Let them know you’re not seeking a refund from them (the bank), rather you want additional purchases from “X” company “red-flagged”.
5. Warn others.
Yeah, it’s a pain. But, every Facebook post I saw for the sites we dealt with, every single one, I left a comment about them being a scam site, until all three pages blocked me. However, in that time, I received probably two dozen or more private messages, thanking me for the warning. I left them bad Yelp reviews. I posted warnings on other sites featuring their ads or wares. Mind you, all this about two weeks before getting married because I was that pissed. So, an hour of your time won’t kill you.
All that having been said, “Caveat Emptor” – “Let the Buyer Beware” – and I hope you never need any of this advice, especially with the holidays approaching.
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