Thursday, May 12, 2022

Burned by a Fake Store Site

Uggghh! I consider myself reasonably savvy and generally careful when it comes to online transactions.

Sometimes, you just let yourself get too comfortable and make an assumption that if you had looked into things the same way you always do, would have showed you the error of your ways.

I know that its not uncommon to find spoofs of websites that use the same logos and offer a similar array of products. And yet, I misssed obvious signs and other signs that I would have normally questioned.

My daughter recently started a job and had a few things that she wanted to buy - a couple items she needed for work and a few that she simply wanted. She had talked about them earlier in the week and showed them to me on her phone. One evewning, I had her pull up the items that she was wanting on the computer and put the right size and color in the cart so that I could place the orders for her.

It was past my bedtime and I wanted to get the orders placed, so I checked for coupon codes and offers and completed the three orders and went to bed. The shipping for the one order was $10, which was higher than I liked but I had looked on a few other stores that carried the brand and they were all more than the 'brand' site even with shipping. It was only two days later when I received a ship notice on the one order that I thought, I don't remmeber seeing an order confirmation email from the one order. I pulled up my e-mail and searched and found the paypal payment with my receipt and another that had almost no content and said your payment was recieved.

I went to the site and realized that indeed, she had found a site that was not the brand site. Why it had come up at the top of the page was a bit of a mystery until I entered the brand in my search bar and noticed that it was at the top of the search results as a promoted/ad driven link. I immediately looked how to cancel my order and started to find everything that should have warned me. The product doesn't ship for 15 - 20 days and ships from China, so it told me to expect 4-6 weeks for delivery (once it shipped). The customer service contact information was an e-mail that was clearly not that of a product brand website. I had no order number either. I sent them an e-mail asking them to cancel my order. I replied to the payment received message and asked the same thing. On PayPal, I submitted a request to refund, selecting product not received as my answer.

I got no response from the company, so I reached out to Paypal by phone. They were able to escalate the request and about a week later I did get a credit for my money. In the meantime, the company contacted me a few times asking why I wanted to cancel, even in response to my message that explained that with the long lead time, they would not arrive in time to fit my needs

In the meantime, I ordered from the right website and got the product before I had credit for the cancelled order and had to do an exchange for size, which was super easy through the brand site.

And now I know. I need to continue to be savvy. I need to make sure that I am on a legit site before ordering. I didn't realize that 'spoofs' would advertise and put themselves at the top of the search results to find unsuspecting consumers. I am sure that I would have received a knock off product eventually but am glad that I realized the issue in time to cancel it and not lose my money.