I’M A prime candidate for those cheap clothing sites that flood your social media feed. I’m a total shopaholic sucker.
And somehow Google, browser cookies and my Facebook data have created the perfect storm for cheap clothing sites from China to exploit my weakness. They know exactly what I want before I even want it.
When an ad for a floaty “cotton blend” top appeared on my Facebook feed I couldn’t look away. And to seal the deal, it was endorsed by one of my most stylish Facebook “friends.”
“Anna Helmrich likes Fray.” It assured me.
I spontaneously clicked on the link whereupon I was badgered from every available angle by SHOUTY POP-UPS.
“JENNY IN FRESNO, UNITED STATES JUST BOUGHT THIS TOP!”
“EVERYONE IS GOING CRAZY FOR OUR LATEST FLOATY TOP!”
“HURRY! ONLY 3 LEFT!”
I could not click on “ADD TO CART!” fast enough. I was even worried when the feed took a while to refresh that I may have missed out.
I placed my order. And waited. Meanwhile, on Facebook …
Anna Helmrich also liked this dress.
Oh my god! I like that dress too! Linen, three-quarter sleeves to cover my fadoobadahs and a shapeless A-line cut to cover all evidence of having ever carried children. It’s like they KNOW ME!
I clicked. I bought. I waited.
And waited. And waited.
“Please be patient, we are busy ripping off the entire female population of the western world right now.”
Three weeks later, the floaty top that EVERYONE IN THE UNIVERSE was going crazy for, had still not arrived.
I emailed the floaty top people. I was assured with a quirky little friendly: “We’re such a cute little bespoke company of gals making their way in the rag trade,” that I was a valuable customer and my floaty top would arrive soon.
About 25 days later, it arrived.
It looked the part but as I slid it out of the packaging, it nearly set my house on fire – the fabric practically sparked on contact. Undeterred and thinking about Jenny in Fresno who was probably also rocking this top RIGHT NOW, I tried it on.
OH MY GOD, NOW I WAS ON FIRE. I was suffocating inside the cheap polyester or whatever Satan’s fabric they had made this thing out of. PLUS it was pretty much completely see through and call me uptight, but I’m so not into showing off my utilitarian bra and stretch marks.
I took it on the retail regret chin and put the top in the bag earmarked for Vinnies.
Meanwhile, I assured myself that the other company, Burlap, had seemed way more reputable. Their name even sounded like a linen sack made in California and the price seemed too realistic ($US52.99) to be a cheap knock-off. So I waited with great expectations.
Three weeks. Nothing.
I emailed the site. I received an email almost identical in tone and syntax to the one I had received from Fray. This time, I noticed that it had that distinct, English-is-not-my-native-language-but-I’ve-pasted-in-this-paragraph-from-the-resolutions-centre-manual feel about it.
Two more weeks later my package arrived. Here’s what was in it.
Is it just me? Or do these two images not match? Plus, the fabric was, it was like … cheap couch upholstery or something. Clearly another innovative creation from Satan’s fabric lab deep in the Xiangzhou province.
I put it on and instantly felt like I was wearing one of those foil panic blankets they give people when they find them in a snow cave they dug after being buried alive by an avalanche.
I checked the package for a refund policy and found this “we’re such a cute small bespoke company and pwease be nice to us” flyer.
Hang on a minute, that flyer looks familiar.
So those bespoke little companies making fashion-forward clothes at great prices for free-wheelin’ fashionistas? They’re all part of one giant conglomerate of rip-offery that just keeps spawning new sites with cute names.
I know. THIS IS TOTALLY NEW INFORMATION. (Also: How could I not have known this?)
I looked up Fray online and found a Facebook page dedicated to the cause.
Okay, so fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice and I’ll ask for a refund.
I emailed for a refund. I waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing.
Then came an autogenerated reply assuring me that I was valuable and they had received my email. It also informed me that because they are such a cute little bespoke company of breezy gals, things take a little longer.
“Have a great day!” Winky face made of punctuation!
So I did what any self-respecting shopaholic would do
I opened a Paypal dispute. Oh that put the wind up them. They sent an email asking for a photo of the item. I sent a photo. I waited. And waited.
Meanwhile, I went all Four Corners on their arses: I checked Anna Helmrich’s Facebook page to see if she had actually ever liked Burlap Apparel or Fray. She hadn’t. SORCERY!!!
I waited another week. I sent another email. They replied again asking for a photo of the item. Again.
So I went rogue. I’m not proud of it, but in this day and age, sometimes the only way to get a refund is to fight fire with fire. I started spamming their Facebook feed with negative comments. I inboxed them about their refund policy. I posted on my own Facebook page about what scammers they were.
About a week later, the money for the dress was mysteriously refunded. I say “mysteriously” because it just appeared in my Paypal account. No cute message from the gals, no instructions for where and how to return the made-from-Satan’s-fabric item – nothing. Just the money.
It seems they didn’t want the dress either.
A quick browse around the internet told me that others have not been so lucky.
Then I did one more thing which everyone should now do. I changed my Facebook ad settings so that Facebook and any third parties who pay for Facebook data, couldn’t track me once I left their site. This means they can’t get data on what you buy and target you with ads that will completely SUCKER you in.
You can change your Facebook ad settings here.
You can also check the Scam Adviser website if you want to check on the reputation of clickbait eCommerce sites and any other cute and breezy sounding clothing site.
Meanwhile, I wonder how Jenny in Fresno is doing.