Who among us hasn’t had their interest piqued by an ad on Instagram? Whether it’s cosmetics, fashion, electronics, or services, sometimes the products we expect when purchasing from an ad on social media aren’t the products we receive.
Sometimes, if it’s a scam, we don’t receive the products at all.
Pretty much every time I open my Instagram app, I see ads for Wish, an e-commerce platform based in San Francisco. Wish acts as a middleman, allowing consumers to purchase items through Wish, which are delivered to the consumer directly from the brand.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen enough Wish try-on hauls on Youtube to know that what you see is not always what you get when it comes to that site.
Items may seem beautiful and well-made on the site, but in person, are almost always of lower quality, and are sometimes a completely different design altogether.
While I have personally never purchased anything from Wish, I’ve danced with Instagram scammers before. Just before Christmas 2017, I purchased what I believed to be a beautiful watch off of an Instagram ad. The ad led to a professional-looking website featuring products that looked to be of relatively high quality. Even the checkout process seemed secure.
However, I remember thinking at the time that the sale price of the watches they sold seemed too good to be true, and apparently, they were.
Although the charge appeared on my MasterCard bill almost immediately, weeks passed without me hearing a peep from the company as to the shipping details, despite my attempts to reach out. After six weeks without an update from the company and receiving squat in the mail, I was forced to reach out to MasterCard.
They advised me that they would look into it, and within two weeks, the charge had been reversed on my credit card.
When I spoke to MasterCard after the charge was reversed, they said the company didn’t respond to their inquiries, so they just reversed the charge for me. I consider myself lucky because I was able to resolve the situation relatively painlessly.
Honestly, the worst part of it was fretting about being scammed out of my money, with absolutely nothing to show for it in return. But I will say that I’ve learned from my mistake.
Now, I definitely think twice when I see something seemingly cool being advertised on Instagram.
Just last week, I saw several ads for an at-home laser hair removal product that seemed too good to be true. Turns out, it was. A quick online search came up with reviews from others that had seen the same ad and purchased this product, and others that look exactly the same but with different branding, only to have it break within the first couple of uses.
I also found reviews that said the product really hurt to use, despite claims that it was “painless.” Needless to say, I closed that browser window and never looked back.
So, what gives? Why is Instagram allowing scams to advertise on its platform? And how can you avoid getting scammed yourself?
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According to a CBS News report, Instagram screens every ad before it’s posted on its platform, but ads are screened by either a human or a computer.
Oftentimes, that process is able to catch the ads that violate its advertising policy, but it isn’t flawless.
That said, there are also reputable stores that advertise on social media, so you probably don’t need to avoid every single product ad you see. The wiser play would be to do your research before making a purchase for a website you’ve never heard of before.
Also, be more sensible than I was when I tried to buy that watch at a deep discount — if the price sounds too good to be true, chances are, it is.
Featured Image: Pixabay
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