Sunday, 19 March 2017

Beware Ordering Items From China

When I'm not in flow making your skin care products I'm off playing little miss detective.  Perhaps I was a detective in a past life (if there is such a thing?)

While looking at ladies fashion trying to figure out what style of clothes I like I stumbled across an Australian women's fashion online website.  At first I was in awe of the pictures because the dresses are so well made and feminine.  I started to browse, making a mental note of dresses I liked; looking at the instructions, sizing charts, about us, contact us and terms and conditions.  Supposedly order processing takes 3-5 days and then up to 12 working days to post (max 3 weeks).

While they don't outright say it they elude to being based in Australia yet have no business contact details aside from an email address (which didn't strike me as odd since it's not unusual for online websites to only have email contacts).  I looked up their business name and found they have an ABN and a street address in Sydney yet the business has been listed by a Chinese name (person or company).   They had another business in 2015 under a different name that no longer exists - what happened to it?   Couldn't find any information on it.

I sent them an email enquiry about site info and received an email back that did not originate from Sydney, they copied and pasted a standard response from their website and didn't answer my question.

It was time to look for reviews and sure enough I found some on their Facebook page, 99% of which is negative.  Mostly regarding the long postage times over 1-2 months, low quality clothing not looking like the pictures and incorrect sizing. All comments are replied to with courtesy responses.  Tracking of orders is done via an overseas (China) courier company.

This lead me to wonder even more about the company.  How could they claim to be based in Australia while selling low quality items they ship in from China?  This is false advertising and the very least.

My detective work took me here, there and everywhere and I ended up finding out about dodgy (scam) companies that set up websites in China using photos they've stolen from other websites and selling second rate items.  Items made in sweat shop factories where employees are asked to replicate items pictured on the websites.  Judging by the quality of the work often reported, the employees don't seem very skilled and quite often have no idea how to replicate the product well.  From there I looked around for other sites scamming the Australian public and was horrified to find that there are many and when the companies are confronted about their dubious existence they close their websites down, change business names and open new websites.  I was further horrified to find reporting these companies isn't very easy leaving me, and no doubt others, unsure as to how to actually do it.

Customers who report dodgy products to the companies have emails ignored, phone numbers don't work, items are often lost in transit, arrive second rate and have to be returned in order to receive a refund, which often isn't given.  There is no way to chase the company down, reporting them is tricky and often futile, returning items is costly, so many just cut their losses and China gets it's money from ripping off other countries with fake items: clothing, jewellery, electronics etc. These companies have infiltrated not just Australia and the US, but France, the UK, Thailand, India... just about every corner of the globe!

Now this isn't to say ALL companies from China are illegitimate fake scammers; numerous people have purchased knockoff items they're happy with, but BEWARE and do your homework.  If unsure ask for more information because somewhere out there someone knows.  One thing to look out for is photos that also appear on other websites (you can do a reverse image search), this is a sure sign the photos are fake, and fake photos mean fake companies!  Also not having standard photo styles, such as consistent background colour, product placement etc.

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