'Unbelievable' 96% online discounts - too good to be true?

2018-01-12 16:59 - Kyle Venktess, Fin24
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Wish app


Johannesburg - It is difficult not to come across online adverts showcasing "unbelievable" deals from the latest online bargain store Wish. 

But is the promise of too-good-to-true sales real?

Wish is an app and desktop based platform, which allows shoppers to snap up goods ranging from jewellery and gadgets, to car parts and fashion. Most are listed as going for a song. Some of the deals cost as little as R13, while other items are labeled as "free".

On its webiste it describes itself as the "sixth largest eCommerce company in the world". 

"We have over 300 million users across the world, from Russia to Brazil to the United States to the far corners of the globe, and they love our product," it states. 

It is currently advertising dozens of jobs at its San Francisco headquarters. 

On Friday afternoon, some of the items being offered on Wish included a purple evening dress for R187, a laptop for R1 200 (which the site claims is R28 000 cheaper than its usual asking price), and lunch box coolers for just R13. 

Buyers just have to add shipping to the costs. 

With the dirt cheap prizes, is Wish too good to be true? Fin24 investigated and found that the Wish service appeared to work well for some, and not so well for others.

And complaints, of undelivered and incorrect items, and difficulties reaching Wish to complain, were numerous online.

Third party suppliers

Wish's model offers customers products from third-party suppliers, and will ship orders all over the world. Most of the products seemingly originate from China. 

At face-value it is hard to imagine that you could find offers for such a steal. When compared to Wish, the prices of other retailers seemingly fall short, with Wish offering items such as earrings, necklaces, waterproof wallets and even clothing priced at a fraction of the cost.

But customers who had used Wish urged users to be careful.

Some customers complained that the item's image as displayed on the app or browser was often misleading. Others warned that incorrect sizes were rampant when orders arrived. And if an item is dirt cheap, the quality would often not be up to scratch. 

"Toys are a lot smaller than expected. Be careful to read description," wrote one user on the webiste www.trustpilot.com. Wish has an avergae of three out of five stars from 2 366 reviews. 

Other users said they hadn't received their goods. 

"I made a purchase more than 6 month ago. The item was supposed to arrived in August 2017 as per their schedule," said another commentator, who said he had no way of contacting the site to find out where his item was. 

But others agreed that if you were a savvy shopper, you could score impressive bargains. 

"Many products pictured are not the actual items you are adding to your cart - I learned this the hard way and the items I actually ordered were not at all those I intended to order," said another poster. "However, if you review everything thoroughly, you can find some great deals."

News24 journalist Siya Canca is an avid shopper on Wish and shared his experience with Fin24. He explained that he came across the store online when he saw “unbelievable” deals and decided to investigate it further. 

“I was browsing the website and saw that the price of items were unbelievably cheap, with some being free, only incurring a shipping fee,” Canca said. 

This led him to watch YouTube videos of other people’s experiences of the service. 

“I was in desperate need of a new wallet and, despite my scepticism about filling in my banking details, I decided that with the wallet I wanted being free, it wouldn’t have much to lose - around R30,” he said. 

Canca said his delivery took about a month to reach him, but when he received it he was satisfied with the product and decided to use the service again. 

In total, thereafter, Canca spent just under R200 on two watches, two pairs of sunglasses and the wallet. 

“I did a lot of research into Wish, watching videos and reading reviews from Google. I did come across many complaints. At first I was very nervous about the transaction, but I have a little more confidence in Wish while still being very cautious,” he said. 

Canca said that, because the products were shipped from different suppliers, timing of their arrival varied. 

Wish gives users an estimated time of arrival. Many users complimented the site about an early delivery, while others complained that the item was not delivered at all.

Another customer, Sarita Coetzee from Kempton Park, told Fin24 that she only used PayPal when ordering on Wish, as extra costs had been added to her credit card for a product. 

"You can score bargains on this site, but you have to be careful," she said.

She also urged users to inspect the description of an item carefully. "The pic of the item and what you actually receive, are two different things."

The Wish app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play store. 

*Fin24 does not endorse the Wish app, but merely conducted a short investigation, and cannot be liable for any financial loss.

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