Settle in kids, today I’m going to tell you a story of how I possibly got scammed on a Facebook Buy / Sell/ Trade group.
I thought I was a savvy corset thrift-shopper – after all, I’ve made videos on how to prep and pack your gently used corsets for shipping, as well as tips and tricks when buying gently used corsets – but in this most recent transaction, there were so many red flags that I disregarded, and I wound up getting burned for it. So in this post, I’ll be pointing out the red flags and discussing what should have gone differently. (You can watch the video above, or read the written version below.)
I’m going to start off by saying that I’m not giving any identifying information about the other party in this video – this video is not about slander, I’m not going to name and shame the person, but I do want to share a cautionary tale so others learn from my mistakes.
The corset I tried to buy was What Katie Did brand, but I have never had any issue with this brand’s customer service or quality – I’ve reviewed this brand a dozen times on my channel before – their corsets have stood up over time. So there is no issue with WKD themselves.
It was a regular August afternoon, just like any other.
Each month I put up a poll on my Patreon page asking my lovely patrons which corset brand and style they want me to review next. In July there was a tie between an Etsy sample and one of the new WKD style (since they recently redesigned all their corsets).
I was about to purchase a corset directly from WKD’s site, but I decided to check some BST (buy, sell, trade) corset groups in various forums and social media pages, just in case someone posted a WKD corset in my size.
Almost serendipitously, there was someone selling their Luna waspie in my size! I messaged them right away. The price new would be £140 while this person was selling theirs for £100 plus shipping. (This is a reasonable price for a 2nd hand corset; I usually look for a savings of 60% to 75% of the original price, if it’s gently used with no damage and little signs of wear.)
I am very experienced with buying and selling lightly used corsets, so I didn’t anticipate this situation to be any different than the others.
Red Flag #1: Asking that I cover the Paypal fees.
First, the seller asked that I cover the Paypal fees. This is against Paypal’s terms of service (which I’ll explain later) but I know that this sort of this is common in these groups. So I made a mental note of this, but I thought “Whatever… adding another 3% on top of the discounted price is still a good deal.” I agreed to pay £119 total: £100 for the corset, £15 for shipping and £4 on top of that (which amounts to ~ 3% fees).
Red Flag #2: Asking additional fees after I had already paid what we agreed on.
I sent the payment through Paypal and when they received the money, they told me it wasn’t enough and wanted me to pay an additional amount on top of the fees I had already paid for. At that point I was getting a little bit suspicious, but I kept it polite and cordial – I explained that we did not agree to pay more than what we had previously discussed, so if it was going to cost more than that, I change my mind about the purchase and could they kindly give a refund. (The corset hadn’t shipped yet so it was still fair to ask this).
The seller said “It’s fine, don’t worry about it, the price is close enough,” and shipped the corset. (They said they would ship it on the 10th, but the stamp said it was not shipped until more than a week later – but this is small enough that I don’t consider it too big a red flag; after all, life gets busy sometimes.)
Red Flag #3: Overstating the value of the corset in the customs forms.
Several weeks later, I went to the post office to pick up my new corset, and was shocked to hear that I owed them $126 in taxes and duty. The reason for this is because the value stated on the parcel was (for some bizarre reason) £200, or $348 when converted. That is not what the Luna corset was even worth brand new (even with the price of shipping, VAT, any additional fees, etc, it still would not have come up to that much). This is twice the purchase price we had agreed on for the corset itself. The only reason I could think of for them overestimating the value of a parcel is if they:
a) wanted to cash in on extra money if the parcel were lost in the post (which is deceitful anyway), or
b) they might have been bitter about my refusing to pay more, and wanted me to get dinged by the post once delivered.
I had no choice but to pay the $126, but I will be contesting it because I still have the Paypal receipt for what I paid – but from what I’ve read, people do not often successfully get reimbursed when they’re overcharged duty.
Over $330 dollars later (more than I would have paid if I just bought the corset brand new), the corset is finally in my hands.
Finally, I unboxed the corset during this month’s Patreon livestream. I noted that it was very similar in its cut and construction to WKD’s old styles, but it was dark at the time so I didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until the next morning that I was taking a closer look at it, that I realized it’s not the Luna corset at all.
Red Flag #4: It’s not even the right corset!!
After looking closely at some archived images and dimensions (thanks to the Wayback machine and my Corset Database), I realized that I had received the Baby waspie, one of their WKD’d old styles, which I have already reviewed in the past.
- The measurements match the Baby, and does not match the stated measurements for the Luna.
- It has a 3-pin busk (like the Baby) instead of a 4-pin busk (like the Luna).
- It is single boned on the seams, with external boning channels, like the Baby (the Luna has sandwiched double bones).
- It has an attached modesty panel like the Baby corset (the Luna does not come with a modesty panel, but a floating panel can be purchased separately).
- The hardware, like the busk width/ quality and the grommets are all old-style, whereas they’ve changed their hardware sources for the Luna.
Normally I prefer to assume the best in others – what if this person purchased the corset in WKD’s shop, and they thought it was the Luna corset but they were mistaken? Maybe they couldn’t tell the difference. But then again, the Baby corset has been discontinued for well over a year now.
I also know that in some buy/sell/trade groups, some people will buy out dresses or products in side-walk sales, clearance racks, and liquidation events for up to 80% off, and then re-sell those items in Facebook buy/sell/trade groups for profit. (Oftentimes Facebook marketplace allows this – this type of resale of clothing is technically not illegal). Could this seller have done the same in this situation, snapping up a Baby corset at deep discount and selling it for more?
There was technically only one way to find out: I messaged the seller.
Red Flag #5: No response / ignored by the seller.
Again, I tried the sugar approach – I told them that the corset arrived safely, thanked them for the prompt shipping, but mentioned that I noticed that it’s not the Luna corset as advertised, it’s the discontinued Baby corset instead. I noted the evidence of the corset being the Baby and not the Luna (old hardware, old measurements, old construction). I asked them around what timeframe they had purchased this corset. I kept it cordial and asked a clear question, allowing them space to answer, or even give some kind of excuse.
My message was read just a few minutes later, but they never responded.
So, over $330 later, I have a corset that is… wearable (it’s functional!), but it’s not what was advertised and it’s useless for a review. However, I could (and I’m tempted to) re-review this corset out of spite, so that my money wouldn’t be a total
waist waste. The last time I reviewed the Baby corset, it was 2011 and I hadn’t yet established my systematic order of doing reviews – so if you want me to review this corset again, comment below and I can do so – but I don’t know who it’s going to serve because this style is not available for purchase (unless you want to buy this corset off me, so I can get a bit of my money back).
I thought I was a savvy and seasoned corset shopper, but even I messed up this time.
So, what should have been done differently?
Here are some tips for buyers so you can avoid getting scammed in these BST groups (and sellers, so you can learn to play by the rules properly):
(Also see my second-hand FAQ article for more tips and tricks)
- The seller should never ask the buyer to cover Paypal / bank fees. It is a common occurrence in buy/sell/trade groups, but you have to know that this is against their terms of service. If they catch you, they could terminate your account without warning or appeal. If you’re a seller and you hate the idea of losing $3-4 on your $100 corset, you can inflate your sales price (e.g. $105 instead of $100), and it’s up to the buyer if they want to meet your price. But you cannot specifically demand that others cover a sales fee.
- Send your payment as “goods and services”. The seller should not specifically ask or demand that you send payment as a family or friend (unless the seller really is family / friend and you trust them a lot). If you send money as a friend, then as far as the system is concerned, you are sending a loved one a monetary gift, and there is no buyer protection – so if your parcel gets lost in the mail or if the seller doesn’t ship anything, you’re not able to easily dispute it.
- When you’re sending payment, there is usually a box to write comments – spend the extra 30 seconds or a minute to fill it out with the details of your purchase. Break down the cost for each part – for instance, write, “Hello [seller’s name], here is $80 for the [brand, style name, color, size] dress, plus $10 for shipping.” Sellers: if you are sending an invoice, you can break down the price like this too – so you have absolute proof of what you agreed on, in case you need to contest the value, or you accidentally received something different.
- If you are selling and shipping an item, state the purchase price of that item on the parcel as the value, no more, no less. Don’t include the shipping fee in the value of the item. Don’t include the tax of the item (if you’re shipping to a different country, that international customer DOES NOT pay state/federal taxes!). Buyers, DO NOT ask a seller to declare the value of a parcel as less than it is (like stating that a $100 item is only $10 or something) because that’s illegal, and the highest penalty for that could be tax fraud. But there are also problems with stating the value as too much – like the government charging too much duty.
- Do save the listing of an independent seller and compare it with the original listing on the brand’s website. Screencap the listing if necessary, and compare both the pictures and the descriptions, side by side. Count the busk pins if it’s a corset. Ask for more info if the listing is sparse. Ask for close-up photos if none are provided in the listing (especially if there’s any damage declared). (In my case, the listing was removed before I could save it, but I do have FB messenger evidence.)
- If you doubt the label/ brand of the corset, ask for photo evidence. In my case, I received a real WKD corset (not a knockoff), but if you have doubts about whether someone might be selling a knockoff of a certain dress or design, ask for a photo of the label. Ask the seller to include a post-it note with your name or the date written on it, stuck beside the designer label so you know that the seller didn’t just swipe a picture of the label off the internet and send it to you.
What do you think – rookie seller mistake, or scam? What other tips would you include to avoid getting scammed? Leave a comment down below!