It’s a familiar enough story. Girl meets internet. Girl places hope in internet. Internet disappoints girl. Girl thinks she can change internet. Internet promises this time will be different. (Spoiler: It’s never different. When will girl learn?)
Look, we’re talking about shopping on the internet! We’re talking about scam sites! We’re talking about scam shopping sites that proliferate on the internet, specifically on social media. News isn’t the only fake thing it’s peddling!
Read on to learn about eight sketchy clothing sites you should be wary of.
In April 2016, BuzzFeed ran “Say No to the Dress,” an exposé about a number of online retailers that advertise clothing that is drastically different in quality and appearance from the clothing actually delivered to customers. Thousands of women have been ripped off on small and large purchases from sites like DressLily, not realizing that many of them are linked to one of China’s richest men.
Online content and marketing consultant Jasmine Griffeth was one of those disappointed customers. As BuzzFeed reports:
“Griffeth bought a coat from DressLily last fall after seeing an ad for the site… Six weeks later, she received a thin, cheap garment in a lighter color that was ‘way smaller’ than product measurements advertised online.
“It took months of back-and-forth with the company and PayPal before she was able to get her money back— though she was lucky to get a refund at all, based on experiences shared by other consumers.”
RoseWholesale is another company that’s part of the Chinese conglomerate ripping people off left and right. One social media page, “Rosewholesale Scam,” has 8,183 likes. Unhappy customers post side-by-side photos of what they were promised and what they received.
Some differences are more on the minor side. One photo shows a woman’s shirt advertised with the Shakespeare quote from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “and though she be but LITTLE, she is FIERCE.” The shirt received appears to read, “and fnough [it’s in cursive, so it could be interpreted as a “t”] she is but LITTLE she is FIERCE.”
Other differences are more significant, like the sizing fiasco shown in this photo of a man giving the RoseWholesale experience a thumbs down. He writes:
“I am one of perhaps tens of thousands of customers that have been scammed by Rosewholesale.com. Two months ago I placed an order costing approximately $96. They added an additional shipping fee of $57. Originally I was informed that I would not have to pay shipping. I am a size large, but ordered a size extra large to allow for a comfort fit. So far, I have only received 4 of the 9 ordered items. All my items received thus far fit consistently as the one depicted in my photo. They don’t come close to fitting me or my wife who is a size medium petite.”
Massillon, Ohio, computer programmer Lisa Little believes social media platforms that allow the ads to proliferate and scam consumers should face more accountability. They need “to be a little stricter about who they let advertise,” she tells BuzzFeed. “By allowing these advertisers to sell their counterfeit goods and scam … users, [they are] complicit in accepting money from this scam ring.” She said it almost made her want to shut her account down.
An online business review page on SiteJabber for RoseGal has received 4,351 reviews and gives the company a 1.8 (out of 5) star rating. The five most recent review titles are, “The worst clothes quality ever,” “Annoyed!!,” “RIP OFF CITY,” “no item, fake tracking number,” and “Don’t waste your time.”
User Patricia O. writes: “I ordered two tops the end of December. It’s now mid-April, nothing. They ‘claim’ it was a shipping issue, but if you google them, that’s always their excuse. Before I got wise to their scam, I did trade up for a product that they said wasn’t available and gave them an additional $11.
“Nothing. I did get a partial refund, but still am waiting after two reminders to them for my remaining $17. I am going to report them to Paypal, and hopefully they will lose their accreditation with them. The BBB (Better Business Bureau) already won’t endorse them.”
As we were writing this, their 4,352nd review came in, titled “SCAM!!! SCAM!!! NO CUSTOMER SERVICE.”
Another popular move for these companies is stealing images of clothing from Instagram stars or legitimate clothing sites, getting rid of identifying markers, and then marking down the price of the item a ton. As BuzzFeed reports:
“…PromGirl, a U.S. company that sells prom dresses, sent a copyright complaint to Google after one of its photos was stolen by the China-based sellers. The complaint lists 153 different infringing URLs that were using its picture of a model in a long, expensive gown, including DressLily, NastyDress, TwinkleDeals, and TrendsGal. As is typical, the sites cropped out the model’s face as well as PromGirl’s watermark.”
“Floor-length dresses from the same designer cost at least $350 at PromGirl’s website,” reports BuzzFeed. The PromGirl dress was advertised on SammyDress for $10.
Y’all. Ten dollars? Come on. For some reason many view “the social network as a more carefully policed and controlled environment than the Wild West of the internet,” as BuzzFeed puts it. Doesn’t this remind you of other institutions that the public has been lulled into viewing as benevolent and magical? Wake up! This is the Wild West, b*tches. Don’t be fooled!
We need to start approaching “deals” from unknown retailers the same way we approach “news” from unknown outlets: with a big ole dose of suspicion. A quality dress for $10 is no more of a reality than the magic diet pill that lets you eat whatever you want, never exercise, and still lose weight. These are figments of the American imagination, which has been shaped by lies about fast and easy solutions to complex problems.
This one is also tied to the same publicly traded company in Shenzhen, China. In a truly baffling move, Zaful reached out to YouTube star Raven Navera and asked her to review some of their clothing items. (What were they expecting?) As she points out in her video, the fabric of what looks on the website to be a plain, light blue cotton dress feels like “cheap polyester, like you’d be sticky and sweaty and hot. It feels like what hospital gowns are made of.”
She goes on to review a white, off-the-shoulder crop top. It looks great on her, but, as she says, “I want you guys to listen to the material. Just listen to this.” She crinkles the shirt around. “Doesn’t that sound like shower curtain?” It does, Raven. It really does!
She then shows viewers the handful of tiny threads connecting the sleeves to the body of the shirt—or as Raven puts it, “the hopes and dreams and best wishes” used to hold all of it together.
In 2014, Lindsay Ferrier hopefully purchased a number of items from NastyDress, including a woolen gray coat, an “Elegant Dress,” a “plunging neck” top, a “loose-fitting dolman sleeve sweater,” and a “Leisure Knit Coat.”
As Ferrier points out in the Huffington Post, the items would have been perfect for an American Girl doll. Unfortunately, Ferrier is a grown-ass lady, and she had to give all of the clothing items to her daughter, Punky (who, for the record, was stoked).
“Life is so not fair!” she writes. Indeed. Ferrier does, however, “heartily recommend NastyDress to all of you who are no larger than a girls size 10/12, who don’t mind if your new clothing arrives with holes in it and (lots of) random strings hanging from the seams, and who understand that the photo of the garment you’re ordering is just a vague approximation of what it will REALLY look like—if you were to put it on a doll.”
We’re not sure which is worse: the merchandise that shows up looking like a paltry counterfeit version of the advertised item or the merchandise that doesn’t show up at all. To spend money and receive nothing in return would be infuriating. Not even a crappy imitation to rage-burn!
This seems to be the sentiment of one anonymous reviewer from a “Twinkledeals Complaints and Reviews” page on Pissed Consumer. (The page has 429 reviews, and gives a 1.6/5 star rating to the company.) The reviewer writes in all caps about a swimsuit that was never received:
“DO NOT ORDER FROM THIS ONLINE RETAILER. IT HAS BEEN MONTHS AND I HAVE YET TO RECEIVE MY SINGLE ITEM.
“I ASKED TO BE REFUNDED AND THEY REFUSED AND SAID I HAVE TO WAIT A FEW MORE WEEKS. I DOUBT I’LL EVER SEE MY ITEM OR MY MONEY. WASTE OF TIME ON ALL ACCOUNTS. DO NOT ORDER FROM HERE.
“I WISH I WOULD HAVE LISTENED TO THE REVIEWS THEY WILL NOT GIVE YOU YOUR ITEM, NOR WILL THEY GIVE YOU A REFUND. I’M SURE IF I EVER GET MY ITEM IT WILL BE LESS THAN HALF OF WHAT I ACTUALLY ORDERED BASED ON THEIR ALREADY LESS THAN STUNNER HELP AND SERVICE”
Just let it out, anonymous.
TrendsGal, with a mind-boggling 1,074,638 likes on one social media page, is another dirty scammer to avoid. Their review page on SiteJabber is only slightly more of a mixed bag than the reviews for RoseGal, receiving 2.6/5 stars with 801 reviews.
Their most recent five review titles are, “disgusting, they gave me a bogus order number,” “Excellent,” “Poor Disappointed Business answer the phone.,” “Placed order, they took my money. NO tracking..no trace of order!!!,” and “AMAZING G1701241536107230.” We won’t name names, but we think two out of five of these users may be robots. (Looking at you, Becki B. and Elizabeth C.!)
Fail, fail, fail.
We know how the clothing industry rips women off all the time anyway, but these retailers are on a whole other level. Be on your guard. As a general rule, if something feels too good to be true, it probably is.