When Subscription Boxes Go Rogue // Tips for Protecting Yourself From Online Shopping Fraud

Today I had an entirely different post planned. I was going to share with you a reveal and review of Relish Clothing Box, a personal styling box (similar to Stitch Fix) that I ordered back in December and just received. (Yes, the long wait was the first sign of trouble.) And while I did receive my box, there are a lot of other women out there who are currently in limbo because two nights ago Relish Clothing announced they were dismantling… on their now defunct Facebook Group.

This isn’t a post to gossip about what may have happened to the business. To be frank, I don’t really care. The point of this post is to warn you that not everything may be as it seems. Up until very recently, Relish was still sending out boxes to fellow bloggers for free to review and provide giveaways to the readers. I was not one of those bloggers, I purchased the box myself during a holiday promotion with the intent of sharing my honest experience in comparison to Stitch Fix, just like I did with my Wantable Style Edit in January.

In light of what has happened, I want to share some tips for how I keep myself protected when I shop with new businesses online, and what to look out for when a to-good-to-be-true offer comes along. You know I’ve been fooled once with a fake Naked Palette on LivingSocial (but luckily received my money back), and I don’t want anyone to be fooled or taken advantage of by a subscription service or another form of online shopping fraud.

7 Tips to Protect Yourself from Online Shopping Fraud // Hello Rigby Seattle Fashion & Style Blog

7 Tips for Protecting Yourself From Online Shopping Fraud

1. This isn’t personal

Supporting small businesses is great. The thing to keep in mind is that it’s not personal. Unless you know someone in real life, the business owner is not your friend. This is a business relationship, and it’s important to remember that when you deal with any company, especially a small one where lines sometimes get crossed. Be wary of fangirls and those that seem a little too invested in a business that they don’t have a part of too.

2. Use a credit card or PayPal

I use a credit card for every single purchase online because it keeps me safer than if I were to pay with a debit card. My bank is great, but generally credit cards are more flexible on dates and timelines in case something goes awry, and it doesn’t deduct money from your bank account immediately.

3. Do your due diligence

It’s always a good idea to check out any business you are considering purchasing from. I often Google the company name plus “scam” or “fraud”. If the business is brand new, don’t be afraid also to search the owner for past transgressions or angry customers. For reviews of a business, I will often search the company name plus “blog review”, “bloggers”, or “review” as well. This is the same vetting I do when considering working with a company in a blogging capacity.

How to Protect Yourself From Online Shopping Fraud & Scams // Hello Rigby Seattle Fashion & Style Blog

4. At first sign of trouble, get in touch

If something seems amiss, it probably is. It’s a good idea to reach out to a business at the first sign that something has gone awry through email or at the very least, via Facebook Message, Twitter, or even on Instagram’s Direct Message feature.

5. Screenshot, screenshot, screenshot

And the reason to reach out via email or social media? Screenshots! It’s hard to record a phone call, but messages live on forever. Be sure to screenshot any communication you have with a business so you have it as evidence if you ever need to file a dispute, and in case, they ever delete their post or social profiles.

6. Don’t be afraid to chargeback

Which brings me to the disputing process. Never feel bad about feeling the need to file a chargeback. If you’ve been waiting for a product that never shows, you are owed your money back. If the business doesn’t provide a refund promptly, it’s time to skip the niceties and go straight to your credit card company. Most of the time, it’s as easy as clicking a link next to the charge on your credit transaction list online and reporting an issue. If it’s been longer than 60 days, sometimes you will need to call your credit card company directly and speak to someone to initiate a dispute. Either way, do whatever it takes to protect yourself from being taken advantage of. It’s helpful to gather your screenshots before filing a dispute so that you have all the information ready to plug in or share with the customer service representative.

7. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable not getting your money back, don’t buy it

Ultimately, if the risk of buying something and never getting your money back is too much, skip it. I wouldn’t have felt great if I never got product or money back from my order with Relish, but it wouldn’t have meant that I would have to give anything else up. It would have been a lesson (an expensive one), but not financially burdensome. If it’s more than you typically would spend on something and you’re not 100% confident in the business, save yourself the heartache.

When deciding whether purchasing something online, go with your gut. If something feels too good to be true or if you’re questioning it, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Have you ever been duped by business online? How did you handle the situation?

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28 thoughts on “When Subscription Boxes Go Rogue // Tips for Protecting Yourself From Online Shopping Fraud

    1. Jenn Post author

      I wouldn’t count on it. Before the Relish Clothing Facebook Group shut down she said she was dismantling her LLC. Some of the women who sent their boxes back and were still in transit were going to try to reroute them back.

  1. Shaylee

    I do a lot of online shopping so these are great tips! I like to support small business and have never (luckily) had a problem receiving product. These are great options for when things go wrong though!

  2. Becca

    Yikes! I hope everyone else gets theirs figured out. We only use a credit card for travel (and emergencies?) but it’s actually not even in my name. So I use debit, but our bank has always been good at catching weird activity.
    Becca recently posted…Currently – February 2016My Profile

    1. Jenn Post author

      That’s good that your bank is so on top of it! I’m hopeful everyone who was affected gets their money back, but definitely a lesson to be careful where you shop.

  3. Jennifer L. } Modern Chic

    Making sure to check your credit report on a monthly basis is key too. And don’t be afraid to inquire on any charges/accounts you find as a red flag. I know there are services that will monitor any fraudulent activity on your credit so it’s definitely worth a check. Great article!

    1. Jenn Post author

      That’s a great suggestion, Jennifer! I try to check my credit report yearly but with fraud happening so much more frequently these days, checking it monthly is a good idea.

    1. Jenn Post author

      It truly is! Definitely use your store card or credit card when you can, it seems that chargebacks are much easier than with some banks.

  4. Noor Unnahar

    Great tips, girl! I have heard similar stories about such makeup products on eBay & Amazon. It’s not that hard to fall into these traps. One should be very cautious while shopping online. I’d go crazy if such thing happened to me. I use PayPal all the time for the security purpose.
    Noor Unnahar recently posted…The Last Day of My CollegeMy Profile

    1. Jenn Post author

      Using PayPal is a great idea, and it’s definitely easy to get sucked into a seemingly good deal! Glad it hasn’t happened to you, Noor!

  5. Cindy A.

    Holy smokes! I had no idea fake cosmetics were such a big business. I’ve considered buying makeup on eBay and Amazon, but now I’m glad I didn’t. Thank you so much for posting your experiences!

  6. Cortney

    So, so smart. I always screenshot order confirmations, tracking info, and most of my ordering steps along the way. I also never allow a website to save my credit card info. Just something I’m wary of! And always checking your bank statements! It’s scary how easily people can gain access to your money!

    Great tips, girl!

    1. Jenn Post author

      That’s so smart of you to never save your credit card! I often do because, well, I’m lazy, but I definitely think that’s something I will stop doing. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  7. Alanna @ Alanna & Company

    I’d even warn against using Paypal for companies you’re not sure about. I bought something off a small boutique website via paypal that was sized for mannequins apparently and never would fit me. I had to pay to send it back, and once they received it they said they couldn’t credit my Paypal back and gave me store credit! Which sucks because I have a feeling that I’ll never use that credit because of their sizing issues.
    Alanna @ Alanna & Company recently posted…Humpday Confessions – I Can’tMy Profile

    1. Jenn Post author

      Ugh what a bummer! That seems like something that if you opened a PayPal dispute, may have gone in your favor. Definitely good to keep in mind though!


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