International dress scams

May 13th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Steve and Rasha Taylor run a small bridal & designer dress studio in Upper Hutt. They’ve written an article on buying dresses online, as more and more Kiwis are doing this. It works out good for some, but for others has ended in tears. Their article is here.

  • Lesson #1: An online dresses website can be run from anywhere in the world.  An online dresses website may pretend or appear to be a local business in you own country.  As a guide, Google search the website or associated websites you are browsing with the word “scam” and see what comes up.  Don’t be surprised when your package arrives direct from China.   BE PREPARED FOR EXTRA CUSTOMS DUTIES & TAXES – even if it claims “free shipping”.
  • Lesson #2:  Anyone can use Google advertising.  Don’t assume that a lot of advertising means the site is trustworthy.  Don’t simply assume the order that online dresses websites appear on your Google search ranking means the websites at the top are trustworthy.
  • Lesson #3:  An elaborate refund policy does not authenticate an online dresses website.  If a site uses Paypal, this does not automatically mean it is trustworthy.  When you pay with a credit card, always keep an eye on your bank statement.  Make sure you know how much you are really paying.
  • Lesson #4:  A fancy graphic with many payment options & trust verifications does not make an online dresses website legitimate.  If a trust verification logo such as DigiCert or Trustwave does not open, be very concerned.
  • Lesson #5: Stunning professional looking photos with watermarks do not add legitimacy to an online dresses website.
  • Lesson #6:  Don’t expect the dress to look like the photo.  Seriously – don’t get your hopes up.
  • Lesson #7:  Budget a LOT more money for alterations & back up options, because your cheap online dress is not likely to fit.  Be mentally prepared in advance that it may be so bad you might have to just bin it.  If you strike it lucky and get a great dress, good for you.  If you bought a fake, don’t insult hard working designers by asking them to fix it.
  • Lesson #8:  Take the on-site reviews and dubious blog entries as an unverified opinion only.  Be wary of the practices used by online dress and knock off merchants in manipulating reviews and feedback.
  • Lesson #9:  Understand how drop shipping works.   Make sure the seller has a method of contact. Always read the terms and conditions to be sure of the process when purchasing online dresses.
  • Lesson #10:  Don’t think you are immune.  Wise up and make an informed purchase. For such an important purchase, check out your local retailers to!  If you get scammed or ripped off by a company selling online dresses, for goodness sake TELL PEOPLE!

The Today programme had a feature on these scams.

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16 Responses to “International dress scams”

  1. peteremcc (341 comments) says:

    I’m sure there are scammers out there, but this reads more like a desperate local business struggling to survive in what is now a global market.

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  2. hmmokrightitis (1,506 comments) says:

    What next DPF, Oprah and Dr Phil reviews? :)

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  3. RRM (9,433 comments) says:

    If you are a fairy princess and you’ve been obsessing about your gold-plated dream wedding non-stop since you were nine years old, then no, a mail order dress from some crafty little fucker in China is probably not for you.

    Mrs RRM bought her wedding dress from a pretty flash looking website.
    The e mails from China made it pretty clear that the plethora of measurements filled in on the form on the website were unlikely to bear anything more than passing resemblance to what was delivered. And sure enough that’s exactly how it turned out.

    But on the plus side we couldn’t have even bought the material that cheap in New Zealand… so a few hundred for a completely wrong dress the size of a tent, plus a few hundred more for a local lady to cut bits out here and there and rebuild it the right size, still led to a much more economical dress than anything we could have bought here. :-)

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  4. Kimble (4,375 comments) says:

    too

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  5. Peter (1,577 comments) says:

    Also, somewhat amusingly, that article is using SEO tactics by repeating phrases such as “buying dresses online”, and close variations thereof. Really, DPFs link should be “buy wedding dresses online” for added effect ;)

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  6. RRM (9,433 comments) says:

    And TBH… having experienced the “wedding industry” in New Zealand that gleefully adds a thousand dollars to the price of anything that has “wedding” in the name, and perpetuates this idea that your wedding should cost you more than a deposit on a house and set you back years…

    …I’d actually rather support some crafty little fucker in China, selling cheap dresses that need a bit of finishing work :-)

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  7. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,790 comments) says:

    Lesson # 5

    Why do they have pictures of Metiria Turei and Russel Norman?

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  8. Spoon (101 comments) says:

    My wife has ordered from ASOS a few times now (including a dress or two). No problems at all, arrives quickly, half the price (or less) than she could get locally, and a huge range.

    I think some of these are legitimate concerns, but when I got to number 6 it just started reeking of someone losing business because the alternative is cheaper and/or better.

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  9. PaulL (5,872 comments) says:

    My view would be that with anything custom made offshore, you add lead time. Leave enough time to buy a second dress if you had to. So if you’re getting married in November then your offshore dress needs to arrive in May. If it’s no good, put it in the bin and buy one locally. If it’s good, then brilliant. This also implies that you plan ahead, you don’t gain weight after getting the dress, you don’t change the colours when you slot in a new bridesmaid.

    Of course, the alternatives would be to a) not have a foo foo wedding and spend the money on something more useful, or b) do the honeymoon beforehand. Have it in China, get the dress made whilst you’re there.

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  10. Ross12 (1,147 comments) says:

    Their business is “suffering” the same issue as opticians with glasses.
    I would suggest the best thing them to do ( if business is suffering) would be to link up with one of these Chinese places and do a JV type operation. They link with the client in NZ and find out what they want ( even if it is picking from a range the Chinese offer ) –do all the measurements etc. and then get the Chinese to manufacture it. So the NZ end is taking all the worry out of the equation. They will probably have to operate on reduced margins but if they want to survive as a business they have to adapt. The customer would have to pay abit extra compared to buying direct from the site but it would get down to what they value to reduction of the hassle to be.

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  11. ftiman (9 comments) says:

    My family make clothing, so a few quick comments.

    1) Wedding dress makers have been known to make assumptions quite different to those made by the bride: eg The Bride may think that the petticoat, stockings and garter are part of the outfit, and are thus part of the dress.

    2) The consumer may well think that an extra thousand dollars are being charged because its for a wedding, HOWEVER making wedding dresses utilize a wider range of embroidery and stitching skills than any other garment: you pay for expertise.

    3) Try taking a dress back to China for alterations or a refund: Thorndon or Upper Hutt is a lot easier all round!

    4) I walk past the bridal shop that has posted this scam alert every week, and I can tell you the dresses in their window are, although less elaborate, on par with my mothers Bride of the Year winning wedding dress, which took my dressmaker Grandmother and seamstress Great-Grandmother three months to make.

    5) Sadly, Caveat Emptor applies to any industry. Might I suggest brides take the time to find a dressmaker who demonstrates a similar level of care and consideration to your needs, as your future husband shows to you… or did you chose him on price and are prepared to be making alterations for the rest of your life?

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  12. RRM (9,433 comments) says:

    as your future husband shows to you… or did you chose him on price and are prepared to be making alterations for the rest of your life?

    :neutral: Bitch please.

    You’re a tradesman. You’re not an artist. And you’re certainly not a life coach.

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  13. seanmaitland (455 comments) says:

    This article should not be on KiwiBlog – it is a complete beat up.

    We recently got married and ended up ordering two lots of Bridesmaid dresses from two different Chinese sites (as my wife couldn’t decide on them) and both sets arrived perfectly in NZ with no extra charges, customs etc.

    They were one tenth of the cost of equivalent bridesmaid dresses in NZ shops. The quality was perfect.

    This article is bordering on racist.

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  14. RLS (2 comments) says:

    I got married last year, and bought two dresses. The first was from a Chinese trader; I knew it was a risk, and as PaulL suggested I did so with enough lead time that I could do something else if it didn’t work out. As it happened, I’m picky about fabric and didn’t like the quality of that used in the dress (the make of the dress was fine and fit was pretty good). So I sold it on TradeMe and bought another dress, also online – but from a brand stocked by bridal boutiques, via a company who seem to perform wedding dress arbitrage somehow. Still saved $500 on what it would have cost me in one of the snobby stores, and got my pretty dress. And my sister got married in a $200 dress from a Chinese trader – she was very happy with it, and as someone else said you couldn’t buy the fabric here for what it cost.

    It’s not hard to work out who is credible if you do your research – and I do think the boutiques here would be better off adapting, rather than publishing this kind of snarky article constantly.

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  15. PaulL (5,872 comments) says:

    @Ross12: agree completely. If you ran a bridal boutique, did the measuring and fitting here, picked the materials, then got it made in China and sent over here, you’d be in pretty good shape. You’d work through suppliers in China and get one who can make to measure reliably – there are plenty of them, just as there are plenty who cannot. If a hand-made NZ dress costs $1000, and a cheapo Chinese one from the internet costs $250, then I reckon you could charge $500 for a cheapo Chinese one measured and fitted in NZ. Is $250 enough to cover the costs? Dunno.

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  16. wrightingright (136 comments) says:

    “I think some of these are legitimate concerns, but when I got to number 6 it just started reeking of someone losing business because the alternative is cheaper and/or better.”

    Too true.

    “This article is bordering on racist.”

    Too true again.

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