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Online #Ads and other Scams

Everyone remembers the phishing e-mails where an "old associate" or a Nigerian prince had a great, multi-million-dollar deal, just for you! These scams were outrageous then, and are still now. However, scams have gotten so much smarter... If you have any social media platforms (even with an AdBlocker enabled), you will be surrounded by advertisements. All of them are annoying, but some are definitely worse than others. This article is about one of the worst: the ad where you think you are buying one thing, but you’re suddenly signed up for a life-time.

I should probably make the distinction clearer. There are plenty of ads out there. Ones I see a lot of are for gym clothes. So, brands like GymShark, JD, Nike etc. keep coming by. If these ads are by legit brands, it’s not too much of an issue. You know what you are getting into if you buy a pair of Nike shoes: you’re just buying overpriced shoes, that’s it. But at least you spent that money voluntarily.

No, I’m talking about companies and ads by FabLetics (with the view on sports clothing). They promise you two leggings for 24 pounds, and they are cute leggings! What is not mentioned is that there are 1600 conditions to that deal.

These type of ads are not exclusive to sports clothes. They work with one of my biggest weaknesses too: shoes. There is a company called FabShoes, yes you might notice a trend with regards to naming and branding here, that pulls a similar scheme. You order one pair of shoes, and suddenly they have you for life…

Now what is so bad about these? They are not one-off purchases, they are subscriptions. Now having a subscription to receive sports clothes (or shoes) every month might be someone’s dream. If that is what you want, have at it. But if that is not what you want and you suddenly see debits on your bank statement that you can’t explain and have sports clothes you didn’t want; we have an issue.

Now if it’s just a subscription, you should be able to cancel it. Should be quite easy too. But it isn’t. I have read the horror stories online where people genuinely asked consumer support multiple times to cancel their subscription, because they genuinely could not figure out how to end it themselves. And often, they would not (or only partly) be refunded. Even if they made a one-time purchase and never consumed any other products.

So how did people fall into these subscriptions? Well, the “have 2 leggings for 24 pounds,” is a discount offer. But you only get that discount if you are a VIP member. Now what does that membership entail? That you pay a monthly fee to receive credits, and those credits you can spend on the site. This seems like a super obvious scheme, that no one could possibly fall for. Thing is, most of the complaints are about never having been informed of this scheme, and not knowing anything about the monthly subscription fee.

When it comes to behavioural science, there are plenty of ways to manipulate consumers into buying something, or buying more than the initially wanted to. However, this isn’t behavioural science, this is a proper scam, where the customer is being misled, information is being withheld from them and they are being overtly lied to.

One thing I should not forget to put out there: FabLetics is owned by JustFab Ltd. They also own the FabShoes brand, that operates on a similar scheme. So as soon as you see the word “Fab” in a brand name, run!

Other ads and companies I did not specifically talk about are those companies that promise to get you high-fashion items, but replicated. I’m talking complete knock-offs. They are a fraction of the price, but that is also exactly what you are paying for. I have seen plenty of reviews, horror articles, photos and threads of these disaster purchases. I have linked some of them. If you want more of those for a good laugh, or to actually find out which companies or hot (and which are not)... YouTube is the place to go!

So here it’s just the pictures that are super misleading when it comes to what you think you’re getting, and what you are actually getting. Companies that are on my Facebook showing these things are IvyRose, SheIn, Romwe, ZAFUL, and other brands that have familiar looking names, because they use marketing to imitate other brands. Be wary of those as well. If fancy clothing just got cheap, you know what you’re paying for.

I know marketing is a b*tch, especially online marketing because it is so intrusive. You get distracted by the great deal that’s on and in your excitement, you forget to read, or even check for, the small print. But keep this in mind: If something seems to be too good to be true, it will be. If you’re not sure, call for back-up. Thing is, I wouldn’t ask someone from your own age group. I’d ask someone who hasn’t grown up with social media marketing, like your parents. They tend to be more skeptical towards this type of stuff. And skepticism is the right mindset. Happy shopping!


Behavioural Science

Personal Finance



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