Wednesday 16 October 2019

Why Researching Your Purchase is SO Important

There are some easy ways to make money these days on the Internet, as long as your morals are loose at best.  One of the primary options is to sell something online using convincing advertising and source that product at a ridiculously low price from overseas.  This particular scam comes in two flavours, you can either market a product that is usually expensive at a low price (though still far higher than its cost to the supplier) or you can market a product that is usually cheap at an inflated price based on its "revolutionary" nature.  Here's a couple of examples I've seen recently.

The miracle showerhead
A few months ago I saw an Ad for a showerhead that included some impressive CAD design drawings exposing the inner workings which, apparently, ensured your shower water was soft, clean and ionised (or some similar rubbish).  The image of the actual product looked pretty good and the Ad was backed by a single page site including testimonies, 5* reviews and all that.  But it was £89.  That's a LOT of money for a showerhead so my cynical hackles were raised even further.  A quick search on Amazon found another supplier for what was clearly the same product, but at £49, OK, that's an improvement, but still ridiculous.  More searching and the price from different suppliers continued to drop, £44.99, £39, £35, you get the picture.  By now it was clear that this was one of the above scams, selling a cheap product at a high price, so I wondered just how cheap they were to buy.  The screenshots below tell the story:

Claiming an original price of £39.90
Here's one site I found for this post (I couldn't find the original one where it was £89, hopefully the owners of that site are no longer able to trade). This site offers the head at a much more reasonable £19.90, "reduced" from £39.90. 

Note the interesting claims.  And here's an eBay listing.  Anything look familiar?
Yep, £3.98 with free shipping.

In case you can't read it, yes, that's £3.98 with free shipping.  So the eBay seller here is able to sell this product at £4, pay for the shipping themselves, and still make a profit!

How does £19.90 sound now?

The other example I've seen recently is for a drone.  According the video, the drone was developed by a disgruntled ex-employee who was fired for standing up to his bosses when they switched to using low-quality components for their own well-known drone.  The video promises the highest quality components, revolutionary performance and, well, everything including the kitchen sink.

The reality?  IF you buy one of these drones you'll probably receive one, but the reviews online tell a different story to the video.  Poor quality build, low-spec features, ultra-low reliability.

The drone is an example of the second kind of such scams, selling something that is usually expensive at a vastly reduced price while giving a good reason to do so (the unfair practices of major sellers).  Interestingly enough, just a few weeks after I saw the drone video I saw it again, at least I thought I did until I realised it was pretty much the exact same sequence of shots, the same script, swapping out "drone" for "phone" in words and images.  That's just lazy.

So, by all means follow enticing Ads, it's how legitimate traders promote their businesses but, as has always been the case, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is and you have the search tools at your fingertips to check it out.

Amazon and eBay are good places to look for the same products being sold by multiple vendors.  On Amazon if you see the same product sold by 10 different people at 10 different prices, that's almost certainly an indication that it's a dirt cheap import and should be avoided.  Oh, and don't be fooled by minor branding/colour changes, they're easy to change on supply.

On eBay you're more likely to find the product at close to its real value (see above), though as I said, if they're able to make a profit at that price, think what the actual value of that product might be.  With a showerhead the worst that's likely to happen is a disappointing shower, with a drone you could be looking at physical injury or worse.

Caveat emptor.