Online Shopping Pitfalls : If something is too good to be true, it probably isDecember 4, 2012 • By Paris B
I don’t like sounding “naggy” but I do feel strongly about people who get unintentionally duped, especially when shopping online. The thing about shopping online is the need to be extra careful about what you purchase and where you purchase an item from.
It is easy to find deals online and those group deal websites are usually one of the first places to offer good deals on goods and services. I will however, tell you to please be very vigilant when buying goods, especially cosmetics from these group deal websites, because there is no guarantee they are genuine. Granted, we take that risk every time we shop online, but it is possible to read up reviews about an online store. Its different when its a group deal offering what seems to be an excellent discount off a popular product for a very limited time. You feel like you have to take advantage of the “offer” because its limited.
I no longer subscribe to any group deal website (my reasons for it are here) but I’d recently noticed a worrying trend of popular cosmetics being sold on these group buying websites. The most popular deal is for almost 50% or more off the popular Urban Decay Naked and Naked 2 palettes. Its still something like RM75 or more when the original retails at RM175, but here’s the deal. Its not the original product.
Have you come across this and were your spidey senses tingling? Were you duped?
When I came across the UD deal, I tweeted about it and mentioned my suspicion, because the only way to redeem the product was online and the company selling it was not the original distributor. Urban Decay is brought in locally through Sephora only and isn’t sold anywhere else.
I later received an email from reader Pearly who told me about how her order wasn’t fulfilled and she was later offered a refund. When I shared this on the MWS Facebook page, readers started sharing about how this “deal” was not limited to just one group deal website but was appearing on almost all sites. In fact, the palette sold is fake, as some intrepid people later discovered. Another reader Wai Mun also emailed me to tell me of her similar experience with a different group deal website for the same item, and that she too was getting a refund.
The name used is Urban Decay Naked or Naked 2 eyeshadow palette, the images are of the authentic product, mostly with photos from Temptalia and other bloggers, and sometimes accompanied by Youtube videos from various bloggers and even blog testimonials. For all intents and purposes, the product LOOKS like the real thing. But heed the fine print that says “Product sold is an OEM product”. In fact, this warning only came about recently after complaints were raised by buyers, I’ve noticed. Before this, there was no such warning and the impression given therefore is that it is the real item being sold.
I personally feel that these group deal buying websites are very irresponsible for promoting these non-authentic products. The phrase “Product sold is an OEM product” is firstly misleading, as few people know what OEM means (Original Equipment Manufacturer i.e. the manufacturer who manufactures the item that is then purchased by another company to use under their own brand name). If it really is an OEM product, there should be NO name on it, and it should not say Urban Decay or Naked anywhere on the packaging. That it does so, makes it a counterfeit product. Secondly, based on photos and information provided, the product touted is, to the uninitiated, the real deal.
At 50% or even more than 50% off the retail price, it is easy for the unsuspecting person to think they are getting a good deal. The thing is, fake cosmetics or cosmetics that have unknown origins can hurt your skin. You do not know what it contains and no one is held accountable if you experience a negative reaction. I would rather purchase something similar from a reputable company that fits my budget, rather than a fake or “OEM” product, simply because in the former case, someone can be held accountable if something happens.
So, the moral of it all is that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. This is the basis upon which scams are perpetuated all the time. They prey on human greed and the naive and gullible. If you do not want to fall prey to a scam like this, bear this mantra in mind every time you go online.
I practice this myself. When I go online, I only shop at the reputable online stores either through recommendations from friends, or after checking out numerous reviews. When I hear of someone I know having a poor experience at a certain store, and if it isn’t resolved in a satisfactory manner, I choose not to shop there anymore. Some online stores offer good deals at certain times, or loyalty discounts or there are sale periods. There are legitimate deals to be had on legitimate products so long as you know where to look. For me, the group deal sites are not that place.
Sometimes, its just its better to just save your money and then take it to the actual store where you know full well you are getting the real deal. Don’t allow your hard earned money to go to a con person. You deserve more than that!
Have you been the victim of a similar online scam like this? How careful are you when you shop online?
I have been duped at a group deal before this too. I saw a deal for travel organizers that were very cheap, and looked similar to one I had that was quite good quality and for which I paid quite a bit for. I wanted to get it for my siblings. When I received it, I saw that it only LOOKED the same, but the quality was, to put it very mildly, crap. It was a waste of money but fortunately, just a small sum. I’ve never bought anything else from these group deals since then. I shop for a variety of items online, not just cosmetics, and sometimes, you come across crazy deals. But I prefer to be safe and not partake in certain deals simply because I do not know how legitimate they are. When something looks too good to be true, it probably is. So, open your eyes, read the fine print, do your research and follow your head not your heart and you will have a pleasant online shopping experience.
Remember: If something is too good to be true, it probably is