It is so tempting to go online and buy a trendy coat, or bag, or prom or wedding dress because all of us want to save some money, and a lot of websites are offering us our dream to have something super cute for dirt cheap prices. Unfortunately, a lot of women and men are victims of online clothing scams. The old adage is true: if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
1. The Retailers Website Photos are Inconsistent
If you're scrolling through pictures on a clothing website and there is absolutely no consistency, you might be on your way to being scammed. If every background in every photo differs between being outside, being in a well lit studio, to being in Paris, to what looks like someone's personal Prom pix, this is a sign the retailer has been stealing, quite blatantly I might add, photos from all over the web and using them as their own. And don't rely on the fact that you see the websites watermark on the images either. Anyone can put a watermark on anything and call it theirs essentially committing fraud and with many of these places overseas and not actually in the US, there is very little being done to stop them. When in doubt, stick the photo into a google image search, and you will surely see the photo coming up on someone's personal Facebook, on 12 other websites, on the actual owners website. It's ridiculous. Just know that it was too good to be true and move on.
2. There are a lot of typos and bad grammar
A lot of these cheap websites are headed up in China, Singapore, or Japan. You have someone hastily constructing website after website in broken English with these big splashy fake pictures and promises that you'll get the item of your dreams, but this should be a warning to you for a couple of reasons. One, your emailed complaints (when, not if, but when you have them) will need to go to someone who may not understand English at all. Trying to communicate might be next to impossible. Two, you'd think anyone with a business would have someone at least proof their pages before they go live, which means they are probably not all that professional (scammers rarely are) and three you are probably going to run into a brick wall when you try to complain to someone else about these companies because all of a sudden you can't find them and no one at the one telephone number that keeps putting you on hold seems to speak any English at all before they hang up in your face.
3. What Refunds
Take a good hard look at the typo ridden refunds page which probably says a lot of "all sales are final," and we only take returns for items with quality issues...a quality they set, not you...which means, no refunds for you. Any company worth its weight, will have a refunds policy that at the very least, allows you to get something re-altered or exchanged according to the sizes you asked for in print if they are incorrect by the companies hand. Not so with these companies. They "always" size their clothing correctly even if you're 5'5, but your dress appears to be for someone who is 4'10, right? It's always your fault, not theirs, but you can go ahead and send the merch back for ohhhh half the cost of the clothing, and a six month delay where they simply let it all get lost in the mail.
4. The Reviews are Super Great Five Stars
If you know anything about statistics, it is statistically impossible for say 100 people writing a review to all give that product or item 5 stars. On a realistic scale you will always have a certain percent giving 5 stars, a certain percent giving 1 star, and most are somewhere in the middle. Too many scores skewed in the super positive direction should be a RED FLAG that these reviews are either given by reviewers paid to do so, the company routinely deletes bad reviews and or threatens not to give refunds to those that don't remove bad reviews, or the reviews are simply completely faked. Ask yourself why in even the good reviews, all have 2 lines of text which all magically read: good products, great sizing, fantastic customer service, exactly as promised, would recommend, and proceed to give no other details. None. Not even one word about how the clothing looks, or the style, or the fit, just what they got was so perfect. BE suspicious.
You will also notice those typos again. It's not to say that there aren't American's or other foreigners who don't make typos or use bad grammar, but it's the same types of mistakes for everyone responding, who by the way are named one word American sounding names like, Alicia, Allen, Caleb, and Michael. Just look around at GaG or Amazon. Most people's screen names are not just a first name and nothing else. And also notice how there are never any pictures of anyone with the actual clothing being worn...heck, it's not even an option to send them in. Look at the dates of the reviews, the names, you'll start to build a case and learn pretty quickly to walk away.
5. Know the Reality
Those prices are so easy to fall for, but it helps to know the realities of fabrication. You are NEVER going to get a dress with Swarovski crystals all over the bodice for $120. A fine wool coat, is never going to be $35. That intricate beading on the front takes weeks for a seamstress to do, so how would that skirt cost just $15. In your mind, you have to realize that what you'll be getting is going to be a shoddy knock off with cheap fabrics, crappy sewing jobs, weird dye colors, and with no beading or crystals at all.
TIPS TO AVOID THE SCAMS
1. Google image search the clothing to see if hundreds of photos come up
2. Call the company phone number and ask a few questions about the product. If no one seems to be helping you or you can't get answers or no one speaks English, that's a bad sign.
3. Look up the company address. Google map it. Can you even find it.
4. Do not rely on the company website for honest reviews. Ask the greater web if anyone has used company x before and then read those reviews
5. Check with the BBB for complaints against the company
6. If you can't use PayPal or other insured form of paying, don't give out your info
7. Trust your gut. If you don't feel to sure about ordering, then don't.