I've always been a person who avoided drama in the MMU world. At least this very first time I'm going to be 'involved with drama' it's not about my beloved Indie Makeup world. Instead it's about the shady business and industry of reputed 'wholesale' sites and in particular the online store Wholesale7. It took a LOT of anger and loss of patience for me to get to this point. Here is a timeline of my horror experience and I do beg of you to SPREAD THE WORD so that less people get into the trouble that I did. This is not about scammers per se, but more on intentional shady business practices that should not be acceptable!
So here it goes...
The First order:
There becomes 2 strings of emails that happened simultaneously which you will see below. The second string is coloured brown to distinguish what was happening.
So here it goes...
The First order:
- In September 2011 I made my first order with Wholesale7 - I found out about this site when I came across another 'wholesaler' (this will be explained below) which I became intrigued with. I googled for more wholesalers and came across Wholesale7 which I decided to make my first order from. I didn't have much of a direct contact with their CS. I think I asked some common questions about items like 'when are you restocking?' and a lot of customers do this. They always answered my questions but they were short, pretty straightforward situation.
- The order consisted of 9 pieces of clothing and 1 pair of shoes. It costed in total ~$160USD so it was not short change! The shipping itself costed ~$56 shipped by EMS.
- I received my package - It was shipped on time but found that it was very small. They reported that the package was 6.51kg all up from their website but I have doubts on that. I didn't pay too much attention to this and threw away the packaging.
- However, what I received was definitely unacceptable. Nearly all the clothes were not as described and I was shocked with the quality.
- I was very reserved about buying shoes online because that always entails problems. The shoes I bought looked great online but the construction of the shoe was definitely under par. It didn't cling to the foot properly and seemed to be cut too low. The base of the shoe was a bit slippery (non grip plastic instead of rubber) which made the shoes precarious. They didn't have a nice balance. Worst of all the laces of the shoes snapped on first use! Even with these problems I think I was still 'lucky' to have chosen this pair of shoes over others (I bought from another buyer some really shoddy Chinese shoes at around the same time which separated on first use!).
- The clothes were hit and miss, nearly all miss. All of the pictures misrepresented the clothes as looking like they were made of superior fabric when it was not the case. Nearly all the clothes I bought were 1 size only and most didn't fit me; and the site lacked full measurements. That might have been my fault but some of them were smaller than they reported.
- One of the clothes' colour was purple on the site (and labelled as such!) but blue in real life, the lace was a different type and didn't cover the whole cuff as they would have you believe.
- The 'woolen' dress was made out of a scratchy material which probably is synthetic. It smelled a bit chemically as well.
- There was one REALLY BAD dress in particular. On the site it looked great. What I received just boggled me. The dress used poplin with no stretch and the waist was fixed (the measurement not listed on their site). There was no opening so there was no way you could get into the dress unless your shoulders were the size of the dress' tiny waist. Maybe they neglected to include the waist measurement or any wear-ability details on purpose. Needless to say, I couldn't fit into it and perhaps it would take a body of a child for it to be suitable for anyone!!!
- Another dress, another problem. Pictured on the site it looked fine but simple, was labelled as cotton. Instead I received some sort of cheap satin with no shaping as suggested in the photos. but it was the fact that it was so cheaply sewn with no lining, not a real facing (it looks lined in the picture), and a sewn tie ribbon on the side. Did I pay about $10 (incl. shipping) for a lazy and misrepresented garment?
- The repeated problem was garments photographed in a way to make an illusion of a fuller hem (like bringing the hem to the front for more view or models doing a spin, etc). A lot of them didn't have tags or labels which irks me but it's not a deal breaker, but all of the above, that's horrendous!
- A few clothes did pass the 'mark'. A cloak that I bought was reasonable, it looked like the picture with the exception of a lesser quality fabric and quick sewn buttons which all had to be stitched back on. For something that would cost almost $50 all up that's okay but a little disappointing. I also bought a simple net dress and oversized t-dress which pretty much matched what was pictured and I think it was their simplicity that was the advantage.
- I complained about a few of the items - that were really unacceptable. Their response was a bit lackluster and insensitive. They basically told me that the defects shouldn't be a problem to me because 'we have a customer who bought many pieces'. They offered a discount without actually saying what the discount was. I asked them about the discount and then they pretty much mocked me by saying that 'you didn't accept discount, right?'. I obviously didn't say that but this becomes important later on in my second order when I encountered their vagueness and passive aggressive attitude. In the end they offered a 3% discount on my next order when their site stated a partial refund to PayPal for defects.
There becomes 2 strings of emails that happened simultaneously which you will see below. The second string is coloured brown to distinguish what was happening.
- In October 2011 I started to communicate with Wholesale7 - yet again but to find out where their headquarters were. I read on the site that they were located in Guangzhou*. I was thinking of going to Guangzhou in the near future so I wanted to take advantage of this and planned ahead. They told me that they were moving soon and to email back later.
- I emailed again in December and they replied with the address. I also asked on chat if I was able to go to see the clothing which they replied yes. My trip had later been organised. So far so good...
- In January 2012 I was in Guangzhou and I tried to confirm - that they were at this new address and that I was able to visit their headquarters in the coming weeks. They of course told me yes it was fine.
- In February 2012 I asked them carefully both in email and their online chat - firstly whether they had samples available, what currency would I be able to pay in, and if the clothes were easy to reach. They replied that they had samples, that I could choose the samples and they would give them to me (to carry or ship), and RMB or USD was fine.
- I then asked (by email) if I could try the clothes on, whether I could touch or feel them, and, through chat, whether they had change rooms. They told me yes I could try them but they didn't have change rooms but to email them in advanced to let them know I was coming and they would get the samples before I came (I was under the impression that they already had the samples and they seemed to imply that they did...)
- I asked (by email) when they were open and they said 24/7. In all these communications which seemed to go fine I got my hopes up and wrote some pretty happy replies.
- I finally decided when I was going to visit and organised for a friend to take me. On the 5th day of continuous communications they asked me what items I wanted because now they decided to tell me that they had to get it first, and also that I should call up before I was to visit. Now, their site is HUGE. I thought that they would just have a warehouse with all the stock in there and that perhaps they would have samples of them; this seemed implied and after months of talking it was one of the first of many blows of this vagueness and sudden clarification. I scoured the site to find all the clothes I wanted to try which took hours of my time but I guess I had no choice if I was to turn up and have them not have any samples altogether. I sent off the list.
- THE FIRST CALL - That day I also got someone to call up to confirm for my visit. We asked for Kate who was the 'lady' that I talked to on all occasions I emailed (I chatted to a 'different person' on their website chat system). They passed over to her and they spoke in Cantonese confirming that I was able to come and also that they would check the email of my list of items after the phone call.
- THE SECOND CALL, the next day, the day I was to visit - I got the same friend to call up Wholesale7 and again asked for Kate. Then the drama arrived! Interestingly this 'Kate' no longer could speak Cantonese and had a different voice. Luckily my friend was able to speak Mandarin too and she started to speak with this new 'Kate' who still didn't check any emails I had sent, neither did she seem to remember anything about the previous call. She profusely apologised in a way but there still seemed to be a bit of an argument ensuing. It ended with the fact that nothing was organised and that we should call back in 2 hours.
- That was the point we gave up - We decided that it wasn't going to happen and probably wouldn't despite what they said. We discussed that it really seemed that they were never in a position to be open for visiting and that their were probably leading me on every email that I got. I truly believe this was the case despite their 'efforts' of 'trying' to 'organise' whatever that was. We decided to do something else. We went shopping in some shopping centres...I went to H&M for the first time in my life and that filled a small gap of the disaster of a week I just had. But it wasn't over yet.
- When I got home I received a message - It said it is inconvenience to come our warehouse... apology for our previouse misleading messages...we will send you some samples. They also wanted ME to reply ASAP after their failed attempts of checking my email. Well, at least I didn't have to call back in 2 hours to confirm what I already knew.
- I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I emailed back saying that I already sent a list of samples that I wanted.
- They replied that I couldn't have all of them but to pick 1 or 2 and if I wanted more I would have to place an order. They again failed to elaborate in the first place and reclarified when my response didn't suit them. Okay, fine, I'll pick 1 or 2 then. So I listed 2 items.
- Meanwhile there were a couple items I really wanted from the site and I was worried that they would be out of stock - This became the biggest mistake I made. I placed an order for 2 items hoping that I would be able to get the things I wanted most.
- To my dismay they alerted me that one of the items were OOS (should I want a store credit or replacement of item). I told them to replace the item with something else. They told me that it was done and that I needed to pay the extra costs of ~$24. I found the shipping too high so I asked them to change the product for another. They changed it. I now owed ~$12.
- At the same time I received another email from the first string of emails asking me if I wanted to put the samples together with the order. I said okay thinking that was the nice thing to do...probably shouldn't have done it. The person from this string of emails found out that I had an order owing which was $24 at the time but had since changed. I emailed back with the calculations to make sure that she knew what the new order was supposed to be.
- She then told me to pay up $121 for the samples that were for FREE! They were now asking me to pay for the samples but not only that, they were asking for $22 for the existing items which were a huge miscalculation. I told them that this was not right, they were charging me for free items and that they were getting everything wrong. I was pretty inflamed because of the repetitive lying, the mistakes (if they were not intentional), the vagueness, the repeated reclarifications.
- In the second string of emails 'she' became confused with what items I wanted to replace with. I again sent my calculations to them so I had sent to both strings of emails.
- They apologised and confirmed that the samples would be free and asked for my order number which I replied back with.
- They again alerted that an item was OOS with it seems an automated message. What was particularly stupid was that this item was the item I first asked to replace the original OOS but we already confirmed that I cancelled this item and swapped it for another one. It wasn't part of my order!
- AGAIN they knocked my sample request back (which was already settled) saying that I needed to choose up to 2 items under $10 each. I was shocked since they never said this in the first place and that it seemed like these samples were dwindling to the value of nothing. I didn't choose the most expensive items and these items in no way replaced my horrid experience so far or the lost opportunity caused by their bungle. I replied asking why. They replied that I couldn't choose "so expensive"!
- Meanwhile I asked them to cancel the whole order since this was taking too long. They replied that since the order was in preparation the order couldn't be cancelled. On their site they never made a mention about this and I felt that the bad customer service was grounds enough to cancel.
- I told them that they already made a mistake with the OOS that wasn't part of my order, felt that I would never receive it anyway and complained about how they lied to me. They replied that my order the way I wanted was prepared but that I could choose 1 item under $10 now...
- On the other line I asked if I could get 1 item under $20 instead of 2 under $10 each. I also wanted my order separated as it was in the beginning because the order was taking too long. They asked me again what my order number was and said that they would separate the order. I replied back with the number.
- They then told me that they won't separate the order and that if I wanted to separate it I had to make a new order. This made no sense at all! They were first willing to send my samples for free including shipping. Now they wanted me to order more for no reason.
- I asked them why I now needed to make a new order and how come it was okay for them to send the samples separately but now it wasn't okay. They replied that it was the 'rule of our company'. Rule? WHAT RULE? There was NO RULE! They just made it on the spot or neglected to put ANY information on the site about these so called rules!!!
- During this time I again asked for the free sample. They told me that they organised the order and that I had to pay the extra amount. I asked them again why the FREE item was not for free.
- I really had it at this point so I went to PayPal for a claim. I wrote up all the events that happened. They finally refunded my money and it seemed that their no cancel policy was not a problem anymore!
- When I asked for the final time if I could get my free samples they replied no. When I asked them why they failed to reply at all. I don't think they were ever willing to rectify the problem.
- I know this is not the usual customer situation. This is a cause for concern since I believe this is a deeper endemic internal issue that's poisoning their industry and shouldn't be trusted. When on one hand you could have an order go okay, on the other hand it could go disastrously wrong. I feel that their actions are passive aggressive so they may not directly inflame the situation they use vagueness, confusion, broken promises, belated 'clarifying' and miscommunication to change the situation. I refuse to let them see me as easy to manipulate. Even if they were all "good intentions" it is just unacceptable for so many mistakes to occur.
- * Guangzhou - China's 3rd largest city, a huge center for manufacturing and proliferates in wholesale markets especially in the fashion industry.
- These wholesale sites work on the basis of buying from ACTUAL wholesalers and the sites themselves are not wholesalers but online retailers. What really identifies them as retailers is the fact that the actual clothes manufacturers and their wholesale stores don't themselves sell directly to the consumer, they sell to a lot of these online socalledwholesalers as well as other retail stores around the country/world. These socalledwholesalers are selling at around the RRP of the item that you would find in China, or at the very least are selling for a lot more than a wholesaler would ever have you pay.
- Many of these socalledwholesale sites share the same clothing. That's because the clothes are distributed from wholesalers to a whole range of retailers like Wholesale7. In stores in China, and there are a lot of them, these cheap stores sell the same stuff as these online retailers.
- Most of these socalledwholesale sites work in this similarly deceptive fashion as Wholesale7. Most of the pictures are stock photos from manufacturers or they are stolen from other sellers or the brands/magazines that they try to knock off! It's obviously illegal in Australia to do such things but in countries like China there isn't much interest in copyright justice.
- I have a general feeling that they don't have reliable stock on hand. I'm not sure how exactly their systems work but what I know for sure is that their 'in stock' numbers are never right. They don't reflect at all the correct amount of stock they have in their 'warehouse'.
- An interesting point is that the really cheap clothes, the really shoddy sewed clothes from my experience wouldn't be bought by the local people in China. It can be THAT bad.
- Clothes are usually one size because it suits the local market, not really the Australian market. The clothes often skimp out on finer details, extra fabric, etc. Photos are usually different to the real thing.
- What makes a good wholesale/retail site is that they pick the right items that are acceptable quality and do all they can to properly depict the product and describe the features correctly. Wholesale7 seems to indiscriminately pick anything and everything without assessing the quality and in fact uses these cheap prices and misleading images to rope in the consumer. Their general interest is for products to sell as quickly as possible in an out direction and the money to come in but not out!
- These sites work best on the premise of not being in touch with the consumer to carry out their business.
- What's most important is the fact that most of these clothes are not worth the money you pay for them. You can buy clothes of similar or better quality in Australia and in most countries that people are buying from than you would on these websites. Support your local market! Because there really is no comparison or worth the heartache in buying from these sites. Don't risk it because you deserve better!
- You might also be wondering why I haven't shared emails. Emails are private communications so I'd like to think I'm doing the legally right thing by not sharing it all bared out. I am sharing my experience and my opinion and I hope this will warn any potential buyer NOT to ever buy from Wholesale7 and be VERY WARY that other sites probably aren't a good idea either!