Online Scams

Online+Scams

The holiday season has arrived! Along with decorating and the first snow comes the rush of buying gifts for Christmas. Whether you bought your Christmas gifts months ago or are someone that procrastinates, you may have tried the online approach to buying gifts. This year, one of the top gifts on my Christmas list is UGG boots. Everyone knows that UGG boots can be pretty expensive (normally costing around $150!) and are rarely on sale. To beat these crazy prices, people resort to other website selling discounted UGGs. And this is exactly what I did. Last Christmas, my friends were able to buy UGG boots for almost half the cost! So this year, I figured I could do the same. Wrong! Because of my simple obsession over UGG boots, it cost me a month’s worth and counting of issues. I was scammed.

One Saturday morning in November, I was casually perusing the internet for Christmas gifts. I knew I wanted to get a pair of UGG boots, but after looking at the official website, I decided to try finding UGG boots on sale. I typed “UGG boots on sale” into the Google search browser, generating over sixteen million results. I chose the first result. The computer pulled up a page looking identical to the UGG Australia website, but something was different about the site. It had the prices of UGGs cut down. I was in heaven, yet I wondered how this could be true. But, the page looked exactly like the original site, so I assumed it was legitimate. I screamed for my mom and told her that I needed to buy these boots pronto because it was only a three day sale. After some convincing, she gave me her credit card to buy them. I was absolutely ecstatic. Not only would I be receiving one pair of boots, but two since the cost was feasible. I could not wait to receive them!

The following week I anxiously checked the porch for a big USPS box. After almost a week, I started to get anxious. I asked my mom to check her e-mail for tracking information. To make me even more uneasy, my mom told me the company had not sent anything to her, not even a confirmation e-mail for our order. Immediately I did not feel right. I went to the UGG Australia site once again and looked up a phone number. When we called we gave customer service our order number. My heart dropped when they told me that they never give out a tracking number like the one we had received and it was not registered in the system. My mom proceeded to tell the woman that we bought the boots from their site, but to no avail. They had no record of our order. My mom then turned the phone over to me since I had done most of the order myself. I explained to the lady exactly what I did and gave her the website’s URL. She fed it into a device that she had that picks up authenticity of a website, and she then proceeded to tell me that the website was indeed a fake. And to top it all off, she told me real UGG boots rarely ever go on sale and then if I would see UGG boots marked down, there is a 98% chance I was buying a fake product. The woman kindly offered the advice of calling our credit card company immediately and cancelling the order. Needless to say, this was probably the worst moment of my life.

In short, my mom ended up having to call the credit card company numerous times and make sure they closed our account so we couldn’t be ripped off anymore. I had ordered two pairs of boots, but about fifteen days after I placed my order, only one pair arrived. When I tried to contact the company, the only contact information I could find was an e-mail address and it was very generic. The company was helpful, but I found out they were from China and their e-mails were written in broken English and confusing at times to read. I never got my other pair of boots and my parents are in the process of cancelling the payment to the fake company. On top of all of this, the UGGs looked unbelievably fake, I could have made a better pair. The UGG labels on the back of the boots were even sewn on crookedly.

The thing that I was most disappointed with overall was that I was too excited over the fact that I found discounted UGGs that I didn’t even take into consideration if they were from a legitimate company or not. Fortunately for me, the credit card company we have has a zero liability policy, meaning if we argue the charge, we should get our money back. But, if this wouldn’t have happened, I would be in the hole $203 to my parents.

Some things I have learned from this experience are to first, find customer reviews on the website from which you want to purchase. It only takes a few minutes to type the website into Google and search for customer reviews. You may be thankful for this later, especially if the website promises shipping in 24 hours for free and your item ends up coming two weeks later. Second, look for legitimate contact information. Look to see if the company has a non- generic e-mail address and usually an (800) phone number you can call. Even call the company and ask them a few simple questions to see if they can come up with quick responses for you. For example, ask their return policy or customer feedback. If there is any hesitation in the person’s responses on the other line to your simple questions, you may want to think twice about ordering from them. Thirdly, research the company’s return policy on your own to make sure what they have told you over the phone matches up with what they put on their website. The product may look good on the computer screen, but it may look different in real life.

All of these things may seem annoying and time consuming in what would be as easy as pressing proceed to checkout, but please trust me, it will save you a whole lot of trouble in the long run if you do some background research. You could end up wasting your money and being in debt to your parents because of it. In this case, I hopefully will end up lucky, but I know I will rarely buy something online again.