As we approach the upcoming Spring season of weddings and proms, you may be hitting the online market and trying to catch a stellar deal from China on a new dress but is it worth it? We have all heard and seen the horror stories of women, young and old alike, who saw an image online of their dream dress being made in China for hundreds of dollars less than had they bought it locally or from a designer. I mean, not everyone can afford the 500 dollar prom dress or the 5000 dollar wedding dress, and so with a few crossed fingers and a few clicks, a dress is purchased.
There are a couple negative scenarios that tend to happen when you purchase a dress online from China:
1. The dress looks NOTHING like the image (because it's often stolen from the real designers website).
2. The dress comes in a cheap and completely different color or fabric finish then was ordered/pictured.
3. The dress arrives unfinished with pins still hanging on it ready to stab you or more often than not stained by who knows what.
4. The dress is completely ill fitting and constructed in a way that renders it unwearable or the wrong size completely.
5. The dress gets delayed for weeks or caught up in customs so you either never see it or it arrives well after your event.
6. You totally get scammed and your money is gone with no way of getting it back because the company has just vanished into thin air.
Not exactly what you had in mind when you saw that first picture right? So how do you avoid this entire nightmare?
First read the reviews carefully.
Real people who write real reviews do not write: "I love the dresses. They are great. Would buy from again. Great seller" for every single review. Beware if this is the only type of review you see because even the best reviewed products on Amazon will have at least a few negative reviews or even the positive ones will have a lot more detail than that explaining what they actually liked or the quality.
Avoid new shops and sellers.
Granted, everyone must start some where, but unless you personally know someone who has bought something from a new overseas seller, avoid them until they have a few real reviews under their belt.
If you ask a question, it should be answered promptly
A business should answer questions in a timely fashion and they should also be professional about it. If the seller seems bothered or goes for days without answering questions no matter how simple or complicated, beware because just imagine in the future dealing with an issue and they have an attitude even before you buy.
The images should be the companies own
A lot of overseas companies simply steal the images from a designer or women at their proms and weddings, and crop off their faces or put their own labels over the images to make them seem like that is the dress you will get but in actuality it's more like "a suggestion" of what you'll get rather than the legit real thing which they don't even make because the images are stolen anyway. If you see no images of items that aren't taken from someone or another designer anywhere on their website, avoid buying from them. If you design, you should have images of your own designs either on display, on your own models, or mannequins.
PayPal or Nothing
A huge red flag is a website asking you to send money orders or checks or anything of that nature. You also personally don't want to give an overseas company your credit/debit card number, so if they don't do PayPal, don't send money.
Read the Return Policy
Apparently you missed the fine print that reads: no returns or should you need a return, you must pay for shipping. It is not unusual for custom made pieces to have a no return policy attached to them, but it's something you should be aware of as well as if they do allow returns that you will have to pay at least a $20+ shipping fee depending on how heavy the item is and where it's off too exactly. On top of that, this is often where a lot of people get screwed because they'll ship it off and it mysteriously never reaches it's destination.
All this being said, can you buy a dress from China? Absolutely. I just bought a stunning dress from an Etsy seller in China because not only did she have steller ratings, every email I sent, she responded in less than half an hour, she answered every single detailed question I asked, the images were all her own designs, reviews were real, there were plenty of review submitted images and details, which all made for a great experience.
My biggest advice when online shopping overseas is to not get swept up in low prices or the beauty of the images. DO your research, poke around a lot and read reviews and pay attention to things that jump out as potential red flags and then don't go on to ignore them!!!! You may pay a few pennies up front but in the long run it may end up costing you way more than had you just done due diligence or bought the dress locally.