Elizabeth Wetherell is an apartment complex manager who needs new sunglasses for her daily check of the pool.
So an ad on Instagram caught her attention, for a retailer called "Buba's Glasses," selling discount Ray-Bans and Oakleys.
"Buba's" sounded vaguely beach-like, conjuring images of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (note, however, that there is no connection with the restaurant chain or movie).
So she gave the site a look. It was very slick, with deep discounts on designer glasses. Best of all, her first pair would be free, for just $4.95 shipping and handling.
"Their aviators looked legit, they were polarized and then they had other types of Ray-Bans that looked like wood, at a great price," she said.
She ordered two pairs for $4.95 shipping each. But a couple months later, she had not heard a thing.
"I emailed four times, two for each order, and never got a response," she says.
Worse, her credit card was charged more than three times per pair for a total of $30.
Beware the Ray-Ban Scam
The Better Business Bureau calls this the Ray-Ban scam. Dozens of websites offer slick images of Ray-Bans, Oakleys and other brands for 75 percent or more off retail price.
It sounds like a deal, as a pair of designer sunglasses will run you $100 to $200 at the mall. That's why it's so tempting to click on those Facebook or Instagram ads promising you designer sunglasses for a fraction of the price.
But the BBB says if you are lucky, you'll get Chinese knockoffs (that you could probably buy at a local supermarket or dollar store for $5). Other times, you get nothing at all.
When Wetherell researched Buba's Glasses, her heart sank.
"They only had 19 Likes on their Facebook page," she said, "and there were five reviews that it was a scam, that other people tried to order them and never received them."
Worse, the Buba's Glasses website is now gone.
To protect yourself:
- Know that Ray-Ban and Oakley do not sell their glasses for 80 percent off. Ever.
- Look for a mailing address of the company: None? Be very suspicious, as it is probably outside the USA, and out of the jurisdiction of American law enforcement.
- Read reviews of the site. Reviews of Buba's Glasses would have turned up complaints.
Wetherell is now disputing the charge with her credit card, as there is no way to reach the company.
Bottom line: cheap sunglasses are fine if it is a ZZ Top song, not so fine if you get nothing but a credit card charge. That way you don't waste your money.
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