InvestigatorsMatter for Mallory


Hamster chairs and counterfeit bags: The items shoppers received from misleading social media ads

12 Scams of Christmas
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Posted at 6:00 AM, Dec 15, 2021

BALTIMORE — Social media has become a gateway for shopping. The ads suck in consumers, but sometimes the products end up being a disappointment.

Shoppers who purchased designer handbags at steep discounts reported receiving counterfeits.

A Maryland woman bought a wooden U.S. National Park Service emblem thinking a portion of her purchase would be donated to the government agency. Instead, she received a piece of paper glued to styrofoam sent from China.

And Queen Shaydonna Haynesworth received an item that was laughable.

“This is a rainbow Christmas tree? Yo, this is the tree I ordered off the internet?,” said Haynesworth in a video she posted online.

Haynesworth bought the tree after seeing an Instagram ad, except in the ad, the tree fit in a living room, not the palm of her hand.

“Like, seriously? Who is responsible for this!” Haynesworth said.

The company’s page is in English, but the contact page is a different language.

“Make sure there’s a privacy policy, contact information, you can reach them, and look and see what kind of words they use,” said Angie Barnett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving greater Maryland.

Barnett added that shoppers should check for spelling errors, unusual grammar, if the seller tries to convince you the product is “real,” or if they advertise unusually low prices.

“Most often, people fall for these social media sites because of pricing and photos. Don’t trust either, do your research,” said Barnett.

However, it can be more difficult when it’s an everyday item at a typical price.

For example, a consumer thought she had purchased two outdoor lawn chairs. In her complaint to the BBB, she wrote: “What was sent to me isn’t anything close to being a chair unless you are a hamster.”

Barnett also recommends taking screenshots of the product details and how it’s advertised.

“I want to look at the dimensions, fabric, very specific details, so if what I receive doesn’t meet up with that, then I can dispute and most credit card companies will take it back,” Barnett said.

A credit card will give you the best protection when shopping online.

PayPal also offers purchase protection, however, in some cases you’ll need to send the item back, and shipping, particularly to a different country, can cost more than what you paid for the item.