Over the years I have learned the truth of old sayings like “you can’t get something for nothing”, “you get what you pay for” and “if something seems too good to be true it probably is”. I wouldn’t buy a 50 dollar designer watch or goods that “fell off the back of a truck” and I don’t fall for “you have won” or “commission” scams.
When I buy from eBay I follow all the advice. I examine the seller’s feedback and so on but all the care I take to avoid being scammed was not able to save me from my desire for a bargain.
My usual perfume costs over 250 dollars per 100 mls in retail outlets. The cheapest you can buy it for on eBay is around 80 dollars for 100 mls so, when I saw two 100 ml bottles up for auction with no reserve price, I watched them carefully.
The seller, “Fragrant Paradise’s” reputation was not spotless. They had a lot of neutral or negative feedback due to their chronic inability to deliver within the promised two weeks. Much of their positive feedback also included comments that delivery had been delayed. Their most recent feedback was a negative one caused by the item not arriving after an 18 day wait. Only one of their hundreds of comments included an accusation that the products they were selling were not genuine.
I put two and two together and concluded the Australian seller was a front for an overseas company. I thought the delays were probably due to the time it took for them to ship the perfume here from another country.
In my longing to believe in the existence of a bargain I decided the reason I might be able to get the perfume for one fifth of it’s retail price was because the recent negative feedback had scared off competition.
The auctions of the two bottles of perfume were due to end within seconds of each other so, expecting to be beaten at the last minute on both, I put in my maximum bid for each of them. I won them both and the total came to only $129.50 including the costs of registered postage.
I was ecstatic. What a bargain. I expected to have to wait much longer than the advertised two weeks but I was prepared for that.
The seller waited a full week after payment then notified me that payment had not been made. I replied giving details of the payment I had made. Three days later I received another notice saying payment had not been received. I concluded this was merely a delaying tactic to give them time to ship the product but I was distressed over the threats to relist the items and file a non-paying bidder notice against me.
I sent an email stating my belief they were using this as a delaying tactic to give them time to ship the product to Australia. I told them I was not concerned with how long the items took to arrive but I would seek legal advice if they sent me one more demand for payment. I gave the details and suggested they check their accounts and “find” my payment immediately.
Within 24 hours I received a long winded, rambling, angry reply originating from Singapore but supposedly from Australia. It was written in poor English and they demanded to know why I was threatening legal action and said my payment had been found. They told me there was no need for me to be so aggressive and threaten them with “legal shit”. The items were immediately listed as paid for on eBay.
The weeks passed and the transaction disappeared from my account without me having given feedback. I altered the view from 30 days to 90 days and gave a neutral score for one of the items stating how long I had been waiting so far.
The seller sent me an email saying they had been having a lot of trouble with many of their recent sales due to a lost batch of parcels. They said they had begun to get negative feedback and they were prepared to offer people a free 100 ml bottle of Britney Spears perfume in return for people withdrawing negative feedback.
Most of the more recent negative or neutral feedback was withdrawn after they made this offer. I did not take them up on that offer. I felt I owed it to future buyers to leave my feedback.
My perfume finally arrived after almost 8 weeks. I checked the packaging and it all looked authentic and untampered with. I opened one and sprayed a little to check the scent. It seemed genuine. I gave feedback. I did not get feedback myself so I followed up with a comment to the effect that I was not happy about that and then the transaction passed the 90 day mark and fell off the radar.
I continued to use the bottle of perfume I was using when the new bottles arrived.
Today I got out of the shower and grabbed my bottle of original, authentic, perfume and sprayed the last drop on my left arm. I reached for the unwrapped new bottle and sprayed the new perfume on my right arm. The new perfume came out of the bottle feeling much waterier than the old spray and, compared to the old scent, it smelt as if it was mostly some kind of spirit.
I unwrapped the second bottle and it was identical to the first. I was disappointed in myself. How had I been fooled so easily?
As I sat here writing this I sniffed my wrist. The scent of my perfume was there and it is genuine. That is how they fooled me – they sent me the real thing but a very much diluted real thing.
My best guess is they buy the real thing and decant it into several bottles. They top it up with normal perfume spirit that evaporates and leaves no scent to compete with the real perfume scent. The strength of the scent straight from the bottle is weak – I would say only about one to five mls of the bottle’s contents is the real perfume.
If I had not sprayed one arm with the real thing and followed up straight away with the tampered product I would probably still not have realised I was scammed! If my perfume had run out before the new bottles arrived I would not have been able to do that.
If they had not delayed sending the items for so long I would have been able to go back and give negative feedback. I have been told complaining to eBay does people no good. eBay believes in the “buyer beware” motto and takes no responsibility for the conduct of sellers.
I paid less for my bottles than any other buyer thanks to the lack of competition caused by their negative feedback at the time of my purchase. I was ripped off but nowhere near as much as other buyers are being ripped off even now.
It proves, yet again, if it seems too good to be true it most likely is. Nobody is able to sell at a loss and nobody will sell at a loss. They made a handsome profit on the sale – I got a maximum of about 15 to 30 dollars worth of perfume for my 130 dollars. No wonder they can afford to list their perfume with no reserve!
I just went to see if there was anything I could do such as complain to eBay but it looks like the seller is still a step ahead of me. They are no longer a registered user. They had a previous ID on eBay that they discarded the same day they began using the new one. I checked the sellers feedback and it looks like, towards the end, they ceased to even send faked products.
Despite my vow to give up gambling I would like to take a bet that they have simply discarded their entire identity with eBay and will register as a new user just as soon as they have a new batch of faked goods ready to palm off on bargain hunters.
Their faked perfume is the work of real professionals. They made an awful lot of money while their store was open so they will be back and, once again, something that is too good to be true will turn out to be fake.
I wonder if their Australian front-woman took the job of fronting for them in good faith and is now being harassed by cheated buyers or even the police?
It’s a reverse of the scam where people take delivery of products from all over the country, bundle them up and ship them to their overseas buyer, then wind up in court for getting goods bought with forged cheques and stolen credit cards out of the country.
In this case the patsy takes delivery of overseas goods and ships them to people in her own country only to discover the goods, not the payments, were forgeries.