International dress scams

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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