Deals in disguise: What you see may not be what you get

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- Almost everyone is searching for great fashion at even greater prices and several websites are popping up online offering it. Websites are advertising blouses for as low as five dollars and formal wear for under $30.

But a search online reveals dozens of people who have had bad luck with some of the sites, including Payton Garland of Limestone. She ordered a bridesmaid dress from an online boutique and was disappointed when it arrived. Garland said, “It didn’t fit right. The colors weren’t right. The placement of the bodice was way too high. The dress was way too short.”

We ordered a skirt, blouse and formal dress for about $40 from Sammydress.com
We ordered a skirt, blouse and formal dress for about $40 from Sammydress.com

News Channel 11 decided to put some companies to the test. I went on a shopping spree to test the quality of the clothes advertised online. News Channel 11 Marketing Producer and Writer Brittany Moore joined me. We spent about $150 and ordered three dresses, four tops, and two skirts from four websites: Sammydress.com, DressLily.com, Rosegal.com, and Rosewe.com.

About four weeks later, three of the four orders had arrived. I immediately noticed they were all shipped from China. We never received the shipment from DressLily. We took our purchases to Serendipity Boutique in Johnson City where store owner and former fashion designer Sarah Hull gave her expert opinion on the quality of the clothes.

Right away, we made some interesting observations. One of the dresses from Sammydress had a piece of fabric tied around it to secure the package. Also, we noticed the size of a skirt, also from Sammydress, looked like a kid’s large, rather than an adult large.

A dress we ordered from Sammydress.com arrived with a piece of fabric tied around it.
A dress we ordered from Sammydress.com arrived with a piece of fabric tied around it.

We ran into problems as soon as we entered the dressing room. Brittany’s $8 polka dot skirt from Sammydress did not zip up, even though she ordered a larger-than-normal size. My $24 formal gown, also from Sammydress, would not zip up either. The dress proportions were also off, making the dress ill-fitting. Hull noticed some issues too. “One thing I noticed right when we took it out of the packaging is that the colors, the blue, are not dyed to match,” she said. “In a garment that has a little better quality to it you’ll see the blue of the threading matching to the blue in the garment.” Hull also said the embroidery would normally be built into the mesh rather than sewn on top of it.

We didn’t have many complaints about the dress and shirt we ordered from Rosegal. “The little black dress really wasn’t bad at all,” Brittany said. “I probably wouldn’t wear it out though.” Hull said the $9 blouse was probably the best buy. “As far as fit goes, I would say the polka dot top [was the best]. It looked probably most like the photo,” Hull said. “The fabrication was a bit sheer but once you actually got it on it didn’t look that bad.”

This $8 skirt from Sammydress.com is a large.
This $8 skirt from Sammydress.com is a large.

But the two items we ordered from Rosewe did not look like the advertised pictures. I ordered a $20 red skirt that looked like it had a natural flare in the advertised picture, but the skirt that I received fell flat. The material looked thicker in the picture, but my skirt was very flimsy and thin. Brittany’s white blouse was pictured as longer online, but was shorter. It was also very sheer and she had to wear a tank-top underneath it. The material looked thicker in the picture advertised online.

Hull said there are signs, indicating when a manufacturer has cut costs during production. “One of the biggest ways that manufacturing facilities can cut cost in production is the zippers and the buttons and the fasteners… not taking the time to clip threads when they’re done.”

 

An online search reveals dozens of unhappy customers across the board with people complaining about the quality of the product and customer service. Sammydress has an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau.

We learned three of the websites we ordered from are owned by the same company, Globalegrow, which is based in China. Last year, the e-commerce company shipped 14.5 billion orders across the world. Globalegrow owns several websites including, rosegal.com, dresslily.com and sammydress.com. Trevor Martin is a spokesperson for the company. “Globalegrow is trying to provide affordable fashion at meets expectations of the customers and yeah it’s aware that some of the customer service and quality assurance problems have occurred in the US.”

Martin said the company works with vendors to produce clothes and in light of recent issues it is implementing a two-year plan to improve customer service and its product. Martin said, “Every single product is going to be inspected before it ships so that means we’re going in and they’re reviewing product quality, they’re inspecting factories, they’re looking at production processes.” But Martin said it could take some time to see improvements. In June, a temporary policy was instated offering an unconditional re-shipment or refund on orders $50 or less for dissatisfied customers within 30 days of receiving the order. We never received our order from Dresslily, but customer service offered to ship it again for free or give us a full refund. Sammydress refunded the $50 we spent on its website.

When we tried to return our items to Rosewe citing poor quality, we received a return note saying, “Please consider the low price of the items. And sometimes customers have quite high expectation[s]. We have been trying best to offer the best quality at this price. Hope you understand that.” An administrator then responded to our complaint ticket saying, “I think it is not worthy and troublesome,” to return the items and suggested we “sell it online or send it to someone as a gift.” If we did want to return the items we would be responsible for paying for shipping to China.

We reached out to Rosewe.com for more information about the quality of its clothes and whether or not the company was aware of customer concerns and if changes were underway to improve the quality of its clothes. We received an emailed response from the Rosewe service team that stated, “We do not need it.”

After our shopping spree Brittany said she would not buy anything from any of the websites we visited. “They looked good on the screen, but on the body it didn’t look quite that well.” But Globalegrow wants people to give them another try. “For those who have had a bad experience in the past, with great apology, but give us another try,” Martin said. Hull advises people to be open-minded if they want to shop on these websites. “Just be willing to be surprised… and even be ok with just eating the cost.”

Copyright WJHL 2016. All rights reserved.

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