Online Shopping Hacks & Scams
Social media scams to watch out for and the best tips to get everything for a fraction of retail price. Plus, the slimy secret behind sites like Gilt.
If you spend any time at all on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll have noticed slick video product ads for products. If you’ve clicked to buy them, you might have noticed that the websites they take you to don’t look super professional. That’s because there’s a new scam in town.
Unethical Chinese companies are setting up websites listing loads of products and advertising them on social media. Except when you buy the product, they send you a box of garbage. Literally.
They make money because most people don’t remember that they didn’t get the product, or they will be too busy or lazy to bother with doing a return or chargeback.
I learned this the hard way when I sent a link I got from an Instagram ad to a bunch of friends and we all ordered self-scooping cat litter boxes that never arrived (but my aunt asked for tracking and ended up with a box of garbage that she then had to find time to return.) Turns out the video and images were stolen from Kickstarter.
Why doesn’t Instagram and Facebook do anything about this? The same reason they don’t police political ads. For one, they’re making a lot of money on the ads. For two, it would cost a lot of money to staff a department dedicated to figuring out which ads are legit versus fake, and the Chinese scammers can create new websites and ads as fast as social would remove them.
PayPal is a bad-guy in all this too. In what I can only assume is a way to help scammers so they get to keep their commission, PayPal requires you to go to the post office and ship the garbage back to China on your own dime to get a refund.
Here’s how you can avoid getting scammed:
Search for the product on Amazon and/or reverse image search using right-click –> ‘search Google for image’. If you can find it, then order it on Amazon (where it’s usually cheaper anyway). For products that you can’t find on an online store like Amazon (one you know for sure is legit), then realize it’s a scam and don’t buy it. Or do, and just know that you’re most likely just going to donate money to a scammer.
How to get your money back if you got scammed:
Firstly, when making a purchase online always pay via credit card, but only if you can verify that the checkout page is secure and a legit payment processor (if you can’t, that’s a bad sign!) or use credit card with PayPal as the intermediary.
If you don’t get what you ordered, then file a dispute with PayPal, who will tell you to return whatever you were sent at your own expense. This is when you can ignore PayPal and call to your credit card and tell them that you want to initiate a dispute. They’ll ask if you tried to resolve it first with the merchant, and you can tell them that PayPal will only refund you if you spend more money and time to return the box of garbage the seller mailed you. Since you didn’t receive what you paid for, your credit card company should refund you without asking you to return anything. NB: PayPal’s dispute process takes several weeks, then the credit card dispute will take several more weeks to go through this whole process.
More online shopping scams to be aware of:
This video will show you a few more Instagram and Facebook ad scams to watch out for:
My Online Shopping Hack: How I Get Incredible Deals on Designer Clothing
I just bought a gorgeous new pair of Dolce & Gabbana lace booties for only $130. US (believe it or not, the retail price on these is $1050. US). I also bought a new off-white Coach clutch purse for 40 bucks (the in-store retail price is $140.) In fact, my entire wardrobe is filled with designer clothes, shoes, and accessories that I have purchased for a fraction of their retail price. How? I shop online at eBay.
Like my friends, you’re probably in disbelief. Last week we all went out for dinner. I wore a skirt to show off my new lace boots. My friends noticed them right away. The compliments didn’t stop all night. At dinner, one of my friends asked where I got them and how much I paid. When I told her there was dead silence, followed by “how do you buy designer clothing for cheap online?” Everyone looked puzzled as if I had just explained a new theory of relativity.
We then entered an interesting conversation about online shopping. Some think I’m crazy. They say that they would never shop online. They need to touch the fabric and try on the clothes before they buy. Some thought they’d get ripped off and lose money. Others wanted to get in on the deals. The funny part is they seem to believe I’m the only one capable of finding these discounts. The reality is anyone can do it, here’s how: